The Wanderer.

The History of Dog Naming

March 27, 2019

A Beagle Named Bagel?

It's been said, never take a dog named Shark to the beach. There are a lot of factors that can go into deciding what to name your dog and a lot of implications that you might not have considered. The name you give them is what you're going to be calling them for years to come, so the decision deserves some serious consideration.

Do you want to name them with a classic dog name like Fido or try something more trendy like Mochi? Maybe you want to name them after a person in history or your favorite singer. Some people even like to add some irony and comic relief to their dog’s name, such as a Chihuahua named Bear or a Great Pyranese named Tiny.

Before you decide what to name your dog, why not take a look through history at some of the most popular dog names.

According to Today, last year, (2018), the most popular dog name was none other than Max for a boy and Bella for a girl. Pet behaviorists would be pleased with those choices since they recommend picking a name that is no more than one or two syllables. You might think it'd be fun to name your dog "Soren Kierkegaard," but shortening it to "Kirk" will be easier for both of you.

Looking all the way back to the 1800s, names like Brownie, Laddie, Trixie, Rosie, Snap, Punch and Pippy were the top names. How do we know this? These names have actually been found on tombstones all over the country in old cemeteries.

Jumping to 1985, William Safire wrote a column in the New York Times called, “On Language; Name That Dog,” where he surveyed people about how they chose their dog’s names. Out of 12,000 responses, most people said they chose to name their dogs with human names. Also, it turned out many people named their dogs after cartoon characters or other famous dogs.

One interesting finding is that many people would try to link their dog’s breed and origin with their names. For example, Sled dogs -malamutes, Siberian huskies - often had the Russian ending -asha in their names.”

One finding in the 1985 survey that has become even more popular recently is naming your dog after food. If you have never met a dog named “Cookie” “Taffy” or “Cinnamon” you’re in the minority. Recently more fun names like, “Bagel” and “Noodles” have been popping up all over the place!

So now that it’s time to name your pup, here are a few tips to help you decide.

Tips for Naming Your Dog

  • Use hard consonants. Letters like k or b make a name easier for your dog to recognize. Softer consonants like m or s are more difficult.
  • Avoid names that have similar sounds to commands you plan to teach your dog. Names like Kit and Kay might seem like great pet names at first, but they also sound a lot like "Sit" and "Stay."
  • Be careful in naming dogs after people you know. You might consider it an honor to name your new Corgi after your Aunt Beth, but she might not see it that way. Talk to them first to make sure it's OK.
  • If you're bringing multiple dogs into your home at once, consider naming them as a group: Bonnie and Clyde, Mac and Cheese, John, Paul, George, and Ringo... Think of the pairs or groups you like and use your imagination.

How to Name a Dog That's Had a Previous Owner

Do you have to keep their original name, or can you change it to something you like better? There's nothing wrong with changing a dog's name. With enough repetition, they'll start responding to the new one in time. Just be sure to take the time to get them familiar with the new name and help them to recognize it and associate it with themselves.

The Last Step in Naming Your Dog

Once you've chosen a name that you think sounds good, the final step is to call the name out loud. You might feel a little silly doing this, but it's important.

Stand on your back porch and call the name loudly a few times, in a few different ways. Then try pairing it with a few basic commands, like, "Stay," or "Heel."Hear how it sounds out loud. See how it feels to say. You're going to be saying the name a lot over the years, so it's important not to end up with something clunky or awkward.

When it comes to choosing a name for your dog, the possibilities are endless. But remember: just like naming a child, your dog's name is a big part of who they are and how you'll relate to them their whole lives. So make it a good one!