Tips for Naming Your Dog or Puppy


Finding the perfect name for your new dog or puppy can be tough. You may be worried about getting it just right. After all, you’ll be using this name for the long haul. But, as huge as the task seems today, try not to worry too much. No matter what name you choose, it will come to represent your canine companion, and that’s a wonderful thing. Plus, you’re not on your own. Experts have established tried-and-true tips to help narrow down your choices.

How to Name Your Dog

There is a little bit of art and science behind choosing a great dog name. Dr. Judy Morgan, nationally renowned author and veterinarian, suggests keeping your pup’s name short and chipper—as long as it doesn’t rhyme with a common command like “no” or “stay.”

“Go for two-syllable names if possible, since the first syllable will serve as a warm-up for the second,” advises Dr. Morgan. “Animal behavioralists and trainers often recommend that you use sharp-sounding consonants in a name (think D, K, and P), since these make a sound that is a bit like a ‘clicker’ and dogs are therefore very responsive to them.”

In addition, keep these tips in mind:

  • Choose a name that you truly like. You will be using it all the time, so you should enjoy the sound of it.
  • Try out the new name for a few days and see how your dog responds.
  • Don’t name your dog something that others may find offensive or embarrassing. This includes potential racial or cultural slurs, general insults, crass slang terms, and anything that has a curse word in it. Do you really want to call out “Poophead” and have the whole neighborhood hear it? What will your vet’s office call your dog if you name him “Fartface?” Not to mention, these names imply a general sense of disrespect for your canine friend.
  • Try not to pick a complicated name like Sir Fluffy Von Wagglestein unless you plan to actually use a simplified call name like “Sir Fluffy.”
  • As a general rule, avoid changing an adult dog’s name if the dog knows it well. If you must change the name, try choosing one that sounds similar. “Bailey” can be changed to “Hailey” or “Kaylee,” and “Charlie” can easily become “Harley” or “Farley.”

Additional Considerations

Unless you are especially attached to a certain popular dog name, you may wish to avoid the most common names if you live in a heavily populated area. You will likely run into other dogs with your dog’s name, and it could lead to confusion at the dog park or vet’s office.

The names Bella, Bailey, Max, Molly, Buddy, and Lucy are just a few of the most popular dog names. This is sure to change over time, so do some research before you settle on a name.

If you wish to give your dog a name that also belongs to a human family member or friend, you should ask that person how they feel about it first. Uncle Herbert might be amused that you wish to name your basset hound after him, but Cousin Annabelle might be offended if you choose her name for your Maltese.

Fun Ways to Choose a Dog Name

Need a little more inspiration? Here are a few fun ways to come up with a name that perfectly suits your pet:

  • Consider your dog’s appearance and personality. You can choose a descriptive name like “Dottie” for a Dalmatian, “Shorty” for a Dachshund, or “Happy” for a jovial mutt, but this has been done many times before. On the other hand, it can be cute to pick a name that describes the opposite of your dog, such as “Tiny” for a mastiff or “Attila” for a wee Yorkie.
  • Your name choice could be based on a certain place, incident, or item. For instance, a dog found as a stray at The Home Depot might be named “Depot.” A dog born or adopted in the spring can be called “Petal” or “Blossom.” A dog might be named “Converse” if a Converse shoe is the first thing the puppy chews up.
  • Some people like to name their dogs after celebrities or historical figures. For instance, a classical music lover might name a dog “Brahms” or “Mozart.” Sports fans might pick the first or last names of their favorite players. Literature enthusiasts might name a dog after a favorite author or character.
  • Another fun idea, if you like the idea of a theme, is to name your dog after something you enjoy. Wine enthusiasts might consider “Merlot” or “Riesling.” Scientists could name their dogs after chemical elements. Anglophiles, look no further than snappy British slang. If you are really into certain foods—say, cheese—you might fancy “Roquefort,” “Stilton,” or “Limburger.”

The 9 Best Dog ID Tags of 2023 The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing Your Dog’s Name. Dr. Judy Morgan’s Naturally Healthy Pets.
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