Choosing a Name for Your Puppy
Updated: Feb 19, 2021
A collage of 9 different dog ID tags with various dog names on them.
Most Common Dog/Pet Names
It’s puppy season and as usual, people are getting puppies left and right. If you’re looking for a unique name for your new puppy, don’t pick one of these. They are the doggy equivalents of Jessica, Jennifer, Ashley, Michael, Chris, or Matt. No hate, it’s just that everyone knows one, or more likely several of them. Over the past 14 years, I've worked with a dozen or so of each of these (some of them two dozen)! But, if you want a super popular name for your pup, here you go!
Gypsy (NOTE: This is a racial slur - please DON'T name your pet this!)
Now, if you're looking for something a little more unique, try the following themes:
Music - bands, musicians, composers, song titles, or something inspired by lyrics Literature - authors, characters, book titles, or poems Nature/Geography - national parks, countries, cities, minerals, plants, weather phenomena, or even other animals/insects TV & Movies - movie/show titles, characters, or something inspired by lines (names based on popular tv show characters have been trending in the past few years, though, so maybe try something more obscure or a cult classic)
Video games - characters, special items, locations, spells, and really anything else goes Colors - you might use actual colors or choose something related to the color of your dog (Example: for a "blue" dog, you might choose Cyan or Indigo, or combine it with a nature theme to get River, Sapphire, or Twilight)
Astronomy - constellations, stars, planets, or galaxies
Sports - athletes or sports terminology Foods - This category is actually quite common, especially with breakfast foods and desserts, but it can be super fun to name your dog after your favorite foods!
Ancestry - choose a name that pays homage to your dog breed's ancestry, or your own. Just be careful to do your research to make sure the name isn't offensive to the culture, and make sure you actually know how to pronounce it. For instance, unless you speak Sanskrit, you will not pronounce "Karma" correctly, and nor will anyone else. BehindTheName is one of the better sources, but it is not perfect. In general, food names and everyday objects are fine, and common human names are usually okay, but may get you some sideways glances.
Names categories to avoid:
Gods & Religious Figures - For some reason, it is has become really popular to use the names of Gods from various religions around the world, but that's extremely offensive to the people who practice those religions. This includes Native American/First Nations, Aboriginal, and African gods and deities. I think that even non-Christians would agree that it would be disrespectful to name your dog Jesus Christ, so let's give the same respect to all religions. The exception is that most Nordic, Greek, Roman, and Egyptian people that I've spoken with when discussing this topic in groups don't mind you naming pets after Norse, Greek, Roman, or Egyptian gods, but there are some people who still practice these religions (including pantheists), so I'd personally avoid those gods/deities, too. Racially or culturally insensitive names - Most of these should be obvious NO-NOs, but these are surprisingly common. Some examples include Django; Tonto; Gypsy and other racial slurs/derogatory terms such as Spook, Cholo, Beaner, Guido, Sambo, and Uncle Tom (yes, some people actually name their dogs those things); Voodoo; Wendigo; Banshee; slang from cultures other than your own; and mafia/mob/gang-related names. If you find an "exotic" name you like and you don't know its history/usage/meaning, please look it up first (and on multiple sites, and not on BabyNames.com) and then speak to people you know of that culture if you still aren't sure. If you don't know anyone from that culture, it's likely best to skip it. I've been told there are Facebook groups that are great for getting feedback on the appropriateness of names from other cultures if you're wondering about cultural appropriation, but I haven't used them since most of my pets have had "human" names.