Barbara Fitzgerald is an AKC Breeder of Merit and author of the column "Conversations with Champions" for the BCSA magazine, "Borderlines."
The Art of Selecting a Greek Name for Your Female Dog
What’s in a name? Shakespeare wrote, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet," but we all know how important a name can be. A dog's name can become a self-fulfilling prophecy; name her Luna, and she could turn out to be a lunatic. On the other hand, naming a hunting dog Artemis, after the Greek goddess of the hunt, may help to elevate your girl's hunting game. With that in mind, choose a name with its associated myth that aligns with your hopes for your new companion.
Here is a list of meaningful dog names from the Greek goddesses, monsters, and heroines and their tales, any of which is sure to bestow awesome powers on your canine companion.
Greek Names for Agile Female Dogs
If your new companion is destined to be an agility star, these Greek heroine names will give her a leg up on the competition. These fleet superstars of Greek myth are often chaste and eternally loyal. Some are also fantastic weavers—just what you need to assist you with your weave pole training!
Ariadne was daughter to King Minos and half sister to the Minotaur. When Theseus arrived to slay the Minotaur, Ariadne fell in love with him, and gave him a ball of twine to assist him in escaping from the labyrinth. Clever Ariadne escaped Crete with Theseus, however, Theseus eventually abandoned her on the island of Naxos. Here Dionisius rescued and married Ariadne, and her wedding diadem is immortalized in the constellation Corona Borealis.
Atalanta was the fleet-footed heroine and huntress who swore never to marry. Prized for her great beauty, many suitors sought her hand in marriage. In order to please her parents, Atalanta agreed to marry, but only if the suitor could beat her in a foot race. Many tried, but Atalanta was the fastest of humans. Hippomenes, watching one of her races, fell deeply in love with her and prayed to Venus for help, as he was sure he could never outrun the beautiful huntress.
Venus sent Hippomenes three golden apples with which to slow her so that he might keep up with her and ultimately win the race. He strategically tossed the golden apples before her as they raced, each a little further away from her path than the first. As she slowed to bend down to pick up each golden apple, Hippomenes was able to keep pace with her and eventually win by half a stride. Without Venus’ intervention, Hippomenes would not have stood a chance. Name your girl Atalanta if you want a fleet-footed girl that can outrun all of the boy dogs at the agility trial.
Athena is the goddess of mental agility, intelligence, art, literature, strategy, and weaving, among many other skills. She is beautiful, brave, and wise. The city of Athens was named after her, and she figures prominently in many stories, including the Odyssey and the Trojan War. Unlike Ares, her male counterpart, she is known for her fairness in battle and for cool-tempered strategy. Known as the goddess of heroic endeavor, she was her father's, Zeus, favorite child. Born of no woman, Athena sprang fully formed from her father's head.
The most skilled of weavers, Athena challenged the braggadocious Arachne to a weaving challenge, when Arachne bragged that she herself was the greatest weaver of all time. Sadly Arachne, after furious weaving of magnificent tapestries, lost the contest to Athena. In a nod to her considerable weaving skills, Athena transformed Arachne into a spider, so that she could continue to dazzle spinning webs, for all eternity. And that is how we have Arachnids, or spiders. Name your girl Arachne if you want a genius on the weave poles.
Greek goddess of the rainbow and messenger of the gods. As a messanger, Iris can move at hypersonic speeds.
Nike, the winged goddess of victory, represents strength, speed, and triumph. She flew around battlefields in a chariot, rewarding the victors with glory and fame represented, by a laurel wreath. She is often depicted on Greek coins, and shares her name to a popular line of athletic shoes; she can also be seen in the hood ornament on a Rolls-Royce. If you like to win fame and glory at Agility Trials or Flyball Tournaments, name your girl Nike.
Penelope was the wife of Odysseus, and she was a very good wife indeed. While he was on his ten-year journey trying to return home after the Trojan War, most believed that Odysseus was actually dead. Many suitors tried to convince Penelope to remarry. Believing that Odysseus was still alive, Penelope stalled for time.
She announced that she would remarry when she finished weaving a funeral shroud for her father-in-law. In reality, she would weave all day, and then unravel her weaving all night. If you want a smart and faithful girl dog that is as nimble in her actions as she is in her mind, name her Penelope; you can call her Penny.
Greek Names for Female Hunting Dogs
While many Greek myths revolve around the abduction or exploitation of female characters, they also allow for extraordinary female warriors and huntresses. In fact, some of these females are so talented, they surpass their male counterparts in skill and ingenuity. The name of one of these Greek huntresses may make a good fit for your extraordinary girl.
Artemis was known to the Greeks as the virgin goddess of the hunt and mistress of animals. At Ephesus in Turkey, her temple became one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Known also as the goddess of the hills and forests, she is depicted in paintings and statues in a forest setting, carrying her bow and arrows and is frequently accompanied by a dog or a deer. Name your female puppy Artemis if you want a beautiful, faithful, and independent hunting dog.
Callisto, which means “most beautiful,” was the daughter of Lycaon, king of Arcadia, and was one of Artemis' hunting companions. As an attendant of Artemis, she took a vow of chastity. When Zeus took a liking to her, poor Callisto was transformed into a bear by his wife Hera out of jealousy. Then Zeus, taking pity on her, transformed her into a bear in the heavens, thus creating Ursa Major, the bear constellation. If you want a beautiful and loyal hunting companion that is also a star in her own right, name her Callisto.
Not only was she fleet-footed (see her other myth, above), she was a skilled huntress as well. Abandoned by her father at birth for being a girl, she was rescued by a bear and raised by hunters. Atalanta was famed for being the first to draw blood in the Calydonian boar hunt. After her success with the boar, her father rediscovered her and sought to have her marry a proper suitor. Her early rejection by her father created a grudge wherein she swore to never marry. See Atalanta's agility tale above for the story of her famed foot races with potential suitors.
If your dog was a rescue, this might be the perfect name. If you are seeking a skilled and tenacious hunting dog that will beat the boy dogs to the quarry, name her Atalanta.
Grecian Names for Loyal, Obedience Dogs
Tales of epic faithfulness in Greek mythology have inspired authors and playwriters from Shakespeare to Shaw. These mythic ladies have risked their all, in their attempts to prove their worthiness to their best friends and husbands. The following Greek names are all personifications of loyalty and faithfulness.
Wife of Zeus and eternally faithful to him, she was also intensely jealous and brought suffering to many of his paramours. Name your female dog Hera, if you don't mind a little self righteous indignation mixed with vengeful might.
Greek word for cinnamon and Polish for "pure."
The Greek root word, meaning "to love." Name your girl Philo or Philos, meaning beloved, for a faithful companion.
In order to win back her husband, Eros, Psyche had to complete a series of four impossible tasks. With the help of ants, reeds, and towers, Psyche was able to accomplish these tasks and win immortality and a place beside her husband. This myth joins Eros (love) with Psyche (soul, mind, or spirit), and is one of the few Greek myths that ends happily.
In psychology, the psyche is the whole mind, consciousness and unconsciousness. In Greek, the word alludes to spirit, soul, ghost, and self (in the sense of the conscious aspects of personality). Name your dog Psyche if you want a resourceful and loving obedience dog that can get the job done.
Hecuba was the faithful queen and wife of Priam, the King of Troy, and mother to nineteen children, including Paris, Hector, and Cassandra. Following the fall of Troy, Hecuba was presented to Odysseus as a slave. One version of the story has it that she snarled at Odysseus and cursed him. The gods took pity on Hecuba and turned her into a dog to escape her enslavement. Name your girl dog Hecuba if you want a true and loyal partner.
Pallas was a childhood friend of Athena's. They were raised together by Pallas’ father, Triton. During a childhood war game, things turned nasty and Athena accidentally killed Pallas. Out of sadness and guilt, Athena took on her friend’s name and became known in Greek tradition as Pallas Athena. Pallas combines loyalty, wisdom, and strategy.
Giving someone the name Pallas alludes to the idea that keeping a name keeps someone's memory alive. Name your girl Pallas for a smart dog with an eternally youthful attitude to life and competition.
Delphi or Pythia
The Oracle of Delphi, also know as the Pythia, was the line of female priestesses who occupied the temple at the foot of Mount Parnassus and delivered prophesies inspired by Apollo. Oracles were believed to be the mouthpieces of the gods, the portals through which the gods spoke directly to people. Considered the most powerful and inspired of the Greek oracles, the Pythia figure prominently in the writings of Plato, Ovid, and Aristotle, among many others. Name your girl Pythia or Delphi if you want an intuitive dog that can read your mind.
Beautiful Greek Goddess Names for Show Dogs
Aretha: Greek girl's name meaning beautiful, excellent and virtuous.
Ariadne: Daughter of King Minos, who fell in love with Theseus and helped him escape from Cretan Labyrinth, after killing the minotaur. Later she was abandoned by Theseus, although she did eventually marry Dionysus. Ariadne now means chaste and most holy.