A Dog by Any Other Name . . . (is just as sweet)

Popularity in dog names, as with those for children, change over the years.  Dogs of yesteryear were often descriptive of a dog’s particular traits (e.g., Barker) or reflected some common attribute of dogs in general. For example, the name Rover, a popular name before leash laws, is rather indicative of the dogs of that era — since they roamed about at will, or until he/she was called home for dinner.  Other popular dog names were based on Latin roots.  The name “Fido” is a good example of this, since its Latin root suggests a dog of loyalty and courage.  (One thinks of the motto for the U.S. Marine Corps, Semper Fi — meaning, always faithful.)

Today’s dogs are more likely to have names usually given to humans.  According to 2013 data from VPI pet insurance, Max and Bella remain at the top of the 100 most popular dog names. In order, the 25 most popular names are listed below. (Names followed by a number with an asterisk, indicates its rank the previous year)

MORGAN - Dr. B's service dog

MORGAN – Dr. B’s service dog


Top male dog names: Top female dog names:
1. Max (3*) 1. Bella (1*)
2. Buddy (6*) 2. Molly (5*)
3. Rocky 3. Lucy (4*)
4. Bailey (2*) 4. Maggie (8*)
5. Jake 5. Daisy (7*)
6. Charlie (9*) 6. Sophie (10*)
7. Jack 7. Sadie
8. Toby 8. Chloe
9. Cody 9. Bailey
10. Buster 10. Lola
11. Duke 11. Zoe
12. Cooper 12. Abby
13. Riley 13. Ginger
14. Harley 14. Roxy
15. Bear 15. Gracie
16. Tucker 16. Coco
17. Murphy 17. Sasha
18. Lucky 18. Lily
19. Oliver 19. Angel
20. Sam 20. Princess
21. Oscar 21. Emma
22. Teddy 22. Annie
23. Winston 23. Rosie
24. Sammy 24. Ruby
25. Rusty 25. Lady


For some reason, any clever names I devised, somehow ended up going to my cats (e.g., Cat’astrophe and Lucy Fur).  My dogs have always had names that came with them from the shelter or were given to them by someone else.  My current dog, however, reflects my husband’s request that this dog fulfill my obsession for a Morgan.

As a young girl, my favorite singer was Helen Morgan.  Her records (yeah . . . for those of you who remember record albums before the digital age) are virtually unobtainable now.  Then, I wanted a Morgan horse.  “Too expensive,” my husband said, and “Where would we keep him?”  Then I wanted a Morgan car (I still do!).

English: Close up of black on black Morgan 4/4...

English: Close up of black on black Morgan 4/4 wire wheels @ the Eastern Counties area for the Morgan Sports Car Club (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wow — we soon discovered we could keep ten Morgan horses for the price of one of those cars! Such an expensive car was completely out of the question.  So, when I got my current dog, my husband suggested his name so that I could — finally — have my Morgan.  (See his picture above.)

But any discussion of popular dog names should include the wackiest*.  And VIP pet insurance has compiled the following list (just in case you’re interested):

  1. Chew Barka
  2. Nigel Nosewhistle
  3. Sir Maui Senqkey Schwykle
  4. Spark Pug
  5. Agent 99
  6. Stinker Belle
  7. Vienna Sausage
  8. Furnace Hills Dante
  9. Senorita Margarita
  10. Trigonometry
  11. Spunky Brewster
  12. Captain Awesome
  13. Peanut Von Strudel
  14. Raising A. Ruckus
  15. Flash T. Trousers
  16. Vito Meatball
  17. Marcopolo
  18. Otto Itchy Bobo
  19. Tugboat O’Malley
  20. Ziggy Stardust Floyd
  21. Fudge McDreamy
  22. Dandy Lion
  23. Phat Daddy
  24. Pawly D
  25. Nacho Cheese

What’s the best names you’ve found for a dog — yours or someone else’s?
(Send us your reply below).


*For the full list of unusual dog names, go to “wacky pet names” contributed by VIP pet insurance.

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7 Responses to A Dog by Any Other Name . . . (is just as sweet)

  1. Edie Hoover May 29, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

    Dog names can be funny, useful, and silly. CCI dogs are named for a letter assigned to their litter. We have has everything from a “Spike-Homba-Cupid-Scooby-and our last one Chief! We had one special girl named Ulani-we called her Lani. She died of cancer less than a year after she was placed with us. Only then did we discover her name-Ulani- means heaven in Hawaiian. That’s where she is, at the Rainbow Bridge with so many others, waiting.

  2. Kathleen Kaska May 29, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    This was a fun post to read, Pat. I always thought if I got two more dogs I’d name them Watson and Holmes. I usually named my dogs after literary characters. I once thought I’d name my dogs Sammy and Sosa after my baseball hero at that time. It’s a good thing I didn’t since he fell from baseball grace.

  3. Karen Stanford May 29, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    My Yorkie is Kennedy Jane and my rescue cutie is Applejack.

  4. Norman W Wilson May 29, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

    You hit upon a good one, Doc. My former dogs were named for a quality they exhibited or coloring: Friskie and Smokey.

  5. Bill Thorn May 30, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    Years ago I had a shelter dog that fulfilled his name completely — Rascal. My favorite came later and was a purebred Cocker Spaniel named Junior from his formal name —-High Toned Townsman II. My son’s present dog is Shadow who follows him everywhere, and his former dog and best friend was a jet black Cocker from an abusive home. His name was Midnight. I had a Yorkie also that I intended to breed (and did once) named Crumpet and a mixed Shih Tzu named Alfie (nick name —-Ralph).

    This was an interesting article to see the wide variety in naming.

  6. Dr. B June 1, 2013 at 3:20 am #

    Goodness — what a lot of wonderful replies! Thanks everyone and give your special furry-friends an extra hug from me.

  7. Marie Grime June 19, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

    We picked up a stray Chihuahua in our neighborhood. “The Lion King” was current, and the neighborhood children had already named him Timone after a Lion King character he resembled.

    However, letting small children name a pet isn’t always a good idea. I have a friend with one of those dust-mop puppies. Her grandchildren named the tiny little thing Lola Marie, giving her a name three syllables longer than she is.

    We had a female cat named Murphy. When Murphy had kittens, I was maybe 4 or 5 and my vocabulary wasn’t yet developed; I knew lots of words, but not always their meanings. So I called them Art, Bart, Fart and Smart after an adult joke I’d overheard.

    When a family came to pick out a kitten for their kids, they picked up the prettiest one in the litter and asked its name. “That’s Fart,” I said proudly. They took Art home instead.

    My mother once bought a purebred Boston Terrier with papers. She looked at his papers and said, “Oh, he has a name. Samuel. We’ll call him Sammy.” It became awkward when the breeder and his family visited us socially. She had misread the papers. The breeder’s first name was Samuel, so when she called Sammy the dog, Sammy the man answered her.

    My husband and I once picked up a couple of strays from behind a country store. I named them Sampson and Delilah after my favorite Victor Mature (Yes, I’m that old) movie. It fit handsome, long-haired Sampson but Delilah? – well, she was no beauty.

    Cat owners seem to have more creative names for their pets. My theory is that they name their cats after what they like. One friend, an aficionado of old movies, adopted three kittens at one time and named them Zsa Zsa, Sophia, and Ava. Another friend has Muffin, Cupcake, and a bit of a sweet tooth. My aunt had Cavernet, Chardonnay, and Merlot; I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

    My favorite dog-naming story: A neighbor rescued a small mutt at SW 117th Avenue and Kendall Drive, a notoriously busy intersection in Miami. He named the dog Kendall, and when people ask him why, he said, “Well, I couldn’t very well name him Southwest One Seventeenth Avenue.”

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