Japan is a country that has had an incredible international impact. It makes sense, then, that so many people would feel drawn towards names that come from Japan. Many, in fact, love to name their dogs after various Japanese names and aspects of Japanese culture.
Figuring out the right Japanese name for your dog takes a little work. There are plenty of options out there, after all, each with its own special meanings and its own connections to your life. If you’re looking to give your dog a great Japanese name, you’ll want to start with this list.
A Plethora of Japanese Dog Names
Male Japanese Dog Names
As you might expect, many people choose names for their dogs that are also used for humans. Some of the best Japanese names for dogs are not only popular in that country for children, but they have special meanings when translated to English.
If you’ve got a white dog, for example, you might want to look into names that reflect the dog’s brightness – Aki (bright) or Akihiro (great brightness) are both popular options here, as are Akio (bright man), and Haruto (flying sun). Kiyoshi (purity) is likewise a good fit for this kind of dog.
Prefer a name for your large dog? Why not try Dai (great), Hiroki (timber tree), Kaede (maple), or Taro (large son). Your first dog might be named Ichiro, Kenichi, or Taichi, which all refer to first sons, while a second dog could be a Jiro or a Shinji. Smart dogs could be Hitoshi (motivated), Osamu (studious), or Satoshi (wise). Dogs who share are generously named Hiroshi or Hiro, while competitive dogs might be Katsu or Masaru, which both translate to victory.
Female Japanese Dog Names
Just as there are some great, meaningful male names, there are similar names for female dogs. These can be great choices for girl dogs with many different types of personalities.
Great names for pretty dogs could be Akemi (bright and beautiful), Asami (morning beauty), Emi (beautiful blessing), Fumiko (beautiful child), Katsumi (winning beauty), Kiyomi (pure beauty), Miki (beautiful princess), Mio (beautiful cherry blossom), Miwa (harmonious beauty), or Miyuki (beautiful blessing) – that is, if you don’t just want to go with Mi (beauty). There are also many other beauty-based names that have to do with flowers and nature, including Air, Hana, Hikari, Hoshi, Hina, Izumi, Mao, Midori, Momoka, Nanami, Rina, Saki, Sakura, Natsumi, Sora, and Yuri.
Of course, not all female dog names have to be about beauty. Chiyo (one thousand generations) is a great name for a dog with a great pedigree, while Kamiko is good for one with superior breeding. A Kimi or Kyoko could be noble or respectful, while a Mana may well just be very loving. Other names like Minori (truth), Shiori (poem), or Suzu (bell) could be popular, as could Takara (treasure), Yasu (peace), and Yuka (gentle flower).
Japanese Dog Names Inspired By Animals
Just as many people choose English animal words for their dogs, so too do many others choose the Japanese names for various animals. These can be great names when your dog has the personality of another furry creature.
The most obvious name for a dog in Japanese is, of course, Inu (dog). Tanuki (raccoon) can be fun for a black and grey dog, while a big dog could be Kuma (bear), Ushi (cow), or Uma (horse). A dog with a wild streak could be Ookami (wolf) or Saru (monkey), while one that’s a little more feline in nature could be a Tora (tiger). If you really want to confuse people, though, you have to call your dog Neko (cat).
Japanese Dog Names Based on Cities
Another great set of names come from the various cities of Japan. Tokyo is probably the most obvious, but other large cities like Osaka and Kyoto definitely fit the bill here. Many also choose city names that are associated with other parts of culture, as some bike riders might go with Kawasaki while hikers could go with Fuji. There is, of course, almost nothing better than naming a good cattle ranch dog, Kobe.
Food-Based Japanese Dog Names
While you might think it’s weird to name a dog after food, it’s actually fairly common. Some of the best food names are Japanese, and they can work quite well with your favorite pet.
Easily the most identifiable food name for most westerners is Sushi, but Ramen and Sake have become very popular as of late. If you want to go a little more obscure, you can go with names like Soba, Udon, or Tempura. All of these names are a little silly, but they’re no sillier than calling a dog ‘cupcake’.
Cultural Japanese Dog Names
Finally, there are those names that are lifted from various aspects of Japanese culture. These names usually have more to do with a dog’s personality or that of the dog’s owner, and they can tell you quite a bit about both.
If you’re looking at the arts, there’s a lot to choose from. Haiku is a poetic name, of course, but Manga might be a little more popular these days. Bonsai is a fantastic name for a little dog, while even Origami could be a good name for a dog who seems to be incredibly flexible.
Those looking at culture might choose Geisha for a female dog or Samurai for a male dog. Shogun and Sensei both have a little more gravitas to them, but they won’t fit every dog. Even names like Daimyo can be popular, at least once you can explain what they mean.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is a good Japanese name for a dog?
There are many great Japanese names. If you’re looking for simple and identifiable, names like Shogun or Sushi might do. If you’re looking for more human-sounding names, names like Hoshi and Akihiro work.
2. What are some unique dog names?
Unique names can come from anywhere. Think about your favorite show, movie, or book – or even your favorite food – and then apply those names to your dog to get a very unique resort. It’s also a good idea to think of a name that you already like and to look at another language to give it a bit more of a unique flair. Sometimes investigating another culture can be a good way to ensure that your dog has a name that’s not the same as every other dog on the block.
3. What is a badass name for a dog?
Some of the classics are still badass. You probably won’t even mess with a Rex or a Killer, for example. Gun names are also fairly intimidating, with names like Colt or Bullet doing very well. It’s usually the dog itself that carries the reputation, though, so even ‘Tiny’ can be a badass name for the right dog. As such, you really need to think about your dog before you think about whether a name will make him or she seem tough.
4. What Japanese name means dog?
The Japanese word for dog is Inu.