Shakespeare said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” While this is true, we humans tend to want names to have a purpose, to mean something! Our canine companions are often like our children, and we typically go about the same process in naming our fur babies just as we do our human children. With dogs, we often want to give them names that fit not only their looks or breed but also the dog’s personality as well. If you’re thinking you should get a dog, deciding what you should name your dog is one of the first major decisions you’ll encounter.
Our Dog Name Ideas
Here at The Pampered Pup, we have quite extensive lists of dog name ideas! Find the perfect one for your new furbaby in the following name categories:
Pop Culture References
- Australian Dog Names
- French Dog Names
- German Dog Names
- Greek Dog Names
- Hawaiian Dog Names
- Indian Dog Names
- Irish Dog Names
- Italian Dog Names
- Japanese Dog Names
- Korean Dog Names
- Mexican Dog Names
- Russian Dog Names
- Scottish Dog Names
- Southern Dog Names
- Viking Dog Names
Random Name Categories
- Dog Names That Mean ‘Protector’
- Female Dog Names And Their Meanings
- Little Dog Names
- Military Dog Names
- Nature Names For Dogs
- Nerdy Dog Names
Rules For Naming a Dog
Did you know there are actually a few rules for naming a dog? Of course, they’re unwritten, but, yes, there is a bit of a code when it comes to naming your dog. We often go with traditional names (I know my own dad was the world’s worst about giving a dog a name; one of our Feist puppies was named Spot because of his looks). However, traditional names often seem mundane when we want a unique name to fit our unique pup! Plus, there’s a bit of artistry that goes with being able to name a dog properly – it’s great to give a dog a unique name, but giving a unique yet really good dog name takes some talent!
Certified dog trainers will tell you that some dog names are better than others – and not just because of the cool factor. Dogs will actually respond better to certain names than others. Names with vowels are better than names with lots of consonants. Names that are one or two syllables are also better for your dog. This is because dogs tend to have a short attention span, and calling for Princess Anastasia to come to play fetch is well, a little over the top in addition to the fact that dogs just tend to respond better to shorter words. Let’s take a look at some other points to consider before naming your dog.
1. Choose a name that ends with a vowel rather than a consonant.
Remember learning “A, E, I, O, U – and sometimes Y” in grade school? Yep, those are your vowels, and dogs tend to respond best to short names that end in a vowel. Why a vowel? Dogs tend to distinguish higher-level frequencies than we humans do. Have you ever noticed that when you say someone’s name that ends with a vowel that you tend to raise your voice ever so slightly? Well, that’s the higher frequency we’re talking about, and dogs can pick up on this change in your voice.
Some good names that end in a vowel:
2. Use no more than two syllables in the name.
Dogs tend to respond to short, one to two-syllable words. Think about commands you teach your dog – “Sit, Stay, Come,” and “Heel.” Each of those words is one syllable. Our canine companions are built to respond to these shorter names and commands. It’s just in their DNA. Plus, most of the time, if you give your pup a long name, at some point, you’ll probably end up shortening it yourself anyway.
Some great one or two-syllable names:
3. Avoid dog names that might be cute but carry a bad connotation.
You might not be old enough to remember Stephen King’s infamous bad dog, but the name Cujo can stir up some nasty memories for some (for the record, the poor dog in the book and film had contracted rabies). You also might not want to name a dog Pennywise, or Freddy (as in Freddy Kruger of the Nightmare on Elm Street horror films).
4. Try not to choose names that sound like a command you might give your dog.
The name Joe or Beau might be confusing to your dog if you have also told him “no” in the past. The same can be said for Ray or Jay, as those two names rhyme with the command “Stay.”
5. Make sure that the name you choose doesn’t closely resemble the name of a pet already present in your home.
You might not want to name your new dog Lelo if you already have a pet named Cleo. At the same time, Leo and Cleo wouldn’t go together very well either! Rhyming names may be cute – especially if you get a male and female pair. However, make it somewhat different – remember, in Where the Red Fern Grows, the male and female pair were named Old Dan and Little Ann (oops, that name broke our syllable rule, didn’t it?).
6. Now It’s Time to Consider your Dog’s Personality
Many dog owners wait until they’ve spent a little time with their new puppy before naming the fur baby. This is because they want to see a little of the pup’s personality shine through. I’ve seen pet parents name a bulldog Spanky, especially if the dog was a little chubby but still spunky and playful. A puppy that has been the leader of his litter might be named Spike. A very regal little female that is picky about getting dirty might be a great Princess.
7. You can also name your dog because of its looks.
Just as my dad named our spotted Feist puppy “Spot,” you might find some obvious physical trait that causes you to choose a certain name. If you’ve ever watched the Little Rascals, then you pick a puppy that is white over its body with a brindle spot around its eye, you might want to call the dog “Petey.” A female Dalmatian might garner the moniker “Perdita,” while another spotted dog might be “Freckles.” A dog that has a black coat with white spots might be “Pepper.” The choices for names based on your pup’s looks are endless.
8. Choose a name you really like.
When my brother and I were younger, we fought over what to name our new dog. My brother won, and the dog’s name was “Fred.” (Yes, there’s a story there, but that’s for another day!) I never liked the name, but once I got on my own and got my own dog, I made sure the name I choose for the dog was one that I was truly happy with. After all, I spend a lot of time with my canine companions, so I want them to have a name that they’ll not only respond to but I like as well.
9. Try out the new name for a day or so to see how your dog responds.
With a puppy, it takes a bit for them to recognize you’re calling them by a specific name and to respond to it. Once you name a puppy and they understand you’re calling them to you, it is difficult to change their name. So, if you’re not sure of the name that you wish to call your dog, then you might try a couple of others to see what fits best.
With older dogs, changing their name isn’t easy. If you adopt an older dog, you may need to stick with the name the folks at the shelter gave him or her. You can try a new name, but there is no guarantee the puppy will respond to it.
If you must change an older dog’s name, try to choose something that sounds similar to the name they’ve already become accustomed to recognizing. For instance, “Charley” can easily be changed to “Harley” and “Jack” could be changed to “Jax.”
10. Avoid complicated names.
Princess Anastasia or Sir Rocky Von Boren is a great dog name to put on your pet’s papers, but neither of those names rolls off the tongue! In fact, you’ll probably get tired of calling such a long and convoluted name! If you want something that is reminiscent of a princess or royalty, Coco (as in Coco Chanel) or Lizzie (as in England’s Queen Elizabeth) both sound fabulous but with far fewer syllables!
11. Avoid the most popular names.
Any internet list will give you certain puppy names over and over again. How many times have you heard a dog named “Bella?” or “Max?”  Imagine if you took your pup to the dog park, and your fur baby shares the same name as four other dogs playing in the park. While you probably won’t have all four Bellas running to you at once, you might confuse the dogs that share the same name. Plus, you DO want your dog to have a unique name.
12. Be cautious when naming multiple pups at once.
Sure, it’s fun to get a pair of pups (or more!) and give them all names that “go together” like “Bo” and “Hope” (that’s a famous soap opera couple) or “Kayce” and “Jojo” (an R&B singing act). 80s music fans might even want to name a pair “Axel” and “Slash!” However, you need to consider how you like those names used separately. Heaven forbid, but at some point, your dogs might not be together, and their names would seem weird without their partner pup.
13. Avoid naming a puppy after a family member unless they are aware of the idea and approve.
Your favorite uncle might be Uncle Charles, but if he comes to visit, do you really want to tell him that Charlie the Saint Bernard is his namesake? You might name your poodle after your grandma with curly hair, but do you think Granny will be insulted or flattered that you did so? Always talk to living family members before giving their name to a new puppy. While some people would love the idea, others might find it offensive.
14. Avoid odd names you’re uncomfortable using
Since you would be proud of your puppy, choose a name that you are proud of and a name that you would not have any hesitation to call, even in public places. If you are teaching techniques of obedience to your puppy, most especially, you would not want to call the animal with an odd name.
How do I find my perfect dog name?
Consider your dog’s looks, her personality, and her breed in order to find the perfect dog name. Remember to use short names that end in a vowel when possible for the best pup response. Avoid the most popular names, and, if you choose to name the dog after a friend or relative, make sure you have the go-ahead from your loved one.
What is a good name for a dog?
This depends on your personality as well as that of your dog. Remember to keep his name short, less than two syllables, and try to make sure it ends with a vowel for best responsiveness in your dog.