As dogs have become vital family members, it shouldn’t be a surprise that roughly 50 percent of all pets have human names or nicknames.
Some owners name their dogs based on their appearance, for example, Blacky, Midnight or Spot. And a few dog owners opt for irony — one of my former neighbors had a miniature gray poodle named Bear.
Choose a simple dog name
Keep it simple. A one- or two-syllable dog name is best.
I also recommend saying the name out loud a few times to see how it sounds. Does it roll off your tongue? Would you be embarrassed to have your friends or neighbors hear it?
When I adopted my first dog – Browning – I briefly considered naming him Pulitzer.
As a journalist, I thought it was a fun name. But it had too many syllables and didn’t sound that great when I shouted it off the deck.
Instead, my sister, Amy, suggested a literary name since both of us and our other two siblings had been English majors in college.
I pondered other names – Shakespeare and Hemingway – but opted for Browning (for the poet Robert Browning) when I saw the adorable beagle/Labrador mix puppy I adopted from the humane society.
A few months later, Finley came to join our home. Friends had found him abandoned near the Finley River in southwest Missouri.
Although I briefly considered changing Finley’s name for a literary one, ultimately I decided against it. Finley suited him, and I worried he’d be confused by a name change.
Avoid the most popular dog name
When I got Sydney in 2008, I considered several names – Aspen (because I now live in Colorado), Cinco (the paper collar she wore only had the number 5 on it when I adopted her) and Bella.
I finally settled on Sydney because she’s an Australian Shepherd-Corgi mix.
The name suits her and I’m so glad I decided against Bella, which was my second choice.
Three of the eight dogs in her puppy kindergarten class were named Bella. If I’d chosen that name for my girl, 50 percent would have had the same name. It was confusing enough having three Bellas.
And I like it that none of my dogs’ names have ever been on any of the popular lists. Each of my dogs is an original, and I love that each of them has had a unique dog name.
Top dog names
According to Veterinary Pet Insurance, the most popular dog names are Max, Molly, Buddy, Bella, and Lucy, based on a survey of more than 450,000 policyholders.
Dogster has several dog name lists that offer options ranging from wacky dog names to holiday-related dog names and Star Wars dog names.
If you need more help choosing a great dog name for your pup, visit dognameguide.com.
Sara B. Hansen has spent the past 20-plus years as a professional editor and writer. She’s also the author of The Complete Guide to Cocker Spaniels. She decided to create her dream job by launching Dog’s Best Life. Sara grew up with family dogs, and since she bought her first house, she’s had a furry companion or two to help make it a home. She shares her heart and home with Nutmeg, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy. Her previous dogs: Sydney (September 2008-April 2020), Finley (November 1993-January 2008), and Browning (May 1993-November 2007). You can reach Sara @ [email protected].