Mediocre Names, Mediocre Pets?
I will never understand how uncreative people can be at naming animals. Time and time again, I take my beloved dog to the dog park, and we meet such exciting new breeds with exotic hairstyles and fancy training and hilarious antics. But time and time again I am disappointed to find that out of every 30 dogs in a dog park, it is likely that they all share one of the same 8 to 10 names.
Do dog owners feel that the animal's title is simply not that important? Do they assume that just because it's a pet, it doesn't deserve a respectable name representative of their individual personality and traits? Dog owners frequently assume that their animal is unique beyond all others, special in every way, a treasure to be protected, a child to be loved, yet they give their "children" such hideously ordinary names. Is it some kind of joke? A commentary on the structures of society, an expression on how even the most average of Joe Blows can surpass expectation and conformity?
Unless you are for some reason trying to name your dog ironically, it would be wise to refrain from such overly used titles as:
The Dangers of Boring Dog Names
Common dog names are not only extremely boring, but they also cause countless hundreds of hours of confusion in veterinary, daycare, boarding, and park settings. When you have 16 black Labrador retrievers who are all named Sam in a boarding facility, and Sam's owner returns from a long vacation to pick up Sam, why is Sam's owner so constantly offended when the wrong Sam is brought out to him? Don't the kennel workers have more of a right to be offended, working with 16 identical dogs with horrendously identical names? Can you imagine how stressful it must be to keep the food and belongings of 16 dogs named Sam in an appropriately labeled and categorized system?
Is it really so hard to imagine your dog with a designation that is more unique than Sam, or Lucy, or Lucky? With every possible combination of vowels and consonants available to the average pet owner, what draws so many, again and again, to the same conclusion that Buster and Daisy are the best possible choices in the entire world for their new puppy?
Why Should I?
Do you want people to remember your freakishly smart terrier by the ho-hum title of Samson? Do you want your grandly gorgeous poodle to be immortalized as simply Bella? To be just like every other dog you meet on the street? I didn't think so!
The benefits of an uncommon name are many:
- Easily identifiable by others in a multi-dog environment.
- Easily recalled by yourself in a multi-dog environment.
- Interesting conversation starters (for all you single dog owners).
- Easily found in veterinary, kennel, and grooming computer databases.
- Representative of the unparalleled awesomeness that is your ace pooch.
How Can I Choose A Good Name?
First of all, if you are naming your dog a name you have heard another dog named as, please stop. It is likely the name you are about to name your dog is Shiloh, Dakota, or Blackie, and those are all grievously terrible names. It is important to think outside the box when it comes to your pup, as he is, I assume, as unique as you are. There are many different ways to come up with unique names, but here are some of my favorites.
Named Derived from Media
Though movies and television shows are a great place to find names for your new best friend, books tend to be my favorite source of media reference. Countless animal characters are found in the works of Rudyard Kipling, Richard Adams, George Orwell, and Felix Salten, whose characters have inspired, enamored, terrified and mystified many. Names such as Akela, Fly, Snitter, Maugrim, Gmork, Remus, Fell, Two Socks, Kiba, Toto, Sirius, Garm, and Arcos are all fictional canines from various literature and movies. I once had a friend who had named her dog Missy Coyote, after the beautifully deadly character from the Hank the Cowdog series. But you needn't limit yourself to canines alone; I once met a dog named Captain Nemo.
Names Derived from Mythology
I find the venue of legendary and mythological names to be a fun one, as back then they used a lot more variety. There is, of course, the typical canine-specific ones such as Cerberus, Amarok, Anubis, and Fenrir, but mythology brings you to an entirely new world of ideas you wouldn't have ever thought of otherwise. Is your dog a mischievous, misunderstood devil? Perhaps the name Loki is appropriate. Is your dog at home in the water, swimming for hours on end? Maybe Poseidon would be a fitting title. If your she-dog is black in color and subdued in personality, wouldn't calling her Nyx make sense? I am particularly fond of Hinkypunk, myself.
Names Derived From Flora
Now when I say flora, I am not talking about Daisy, Rose, or Bud. I'm talking names you most likely have never heard of, unless you are in fact a gardening fanatic. Pennyroyal is a simple plant with attractive flowers, but beware its taste - it is toxic! Mangelwurzel is a type of edible beet, and it makes for a name you will never forget. Lilli pilli, often called myrtle, is a name that suggests playfulness, though being an evergreen tree often used as hedgerows, it represents loyalty and determination.
Names That Are Not Names
I have the peculiar habit of finding particular words to be very appealing when spoken out loud. They are usually words that are not often used, or perhaps are so over-used that they have lost all meaning on their own. Some examples of rarely used words would be Widdershins, Raze, Fleet, and Fallow, while examples of over-used words might be Unless, Entire, December, and Until.
Having volunteered and worked in dog kennels, veterinary clinics, animal shelters, and pet stores my entire life, I have run across a few dogs here and there. After so many years of dealing with thousands of faces, you forget a lot of the ones you meet, but there are certain dogs in my life who I will never forget due to the unique qualities of their names.
These unforgettable dogs included:
None of these are names you would necessarily name your child, but that's half the fun of animal names. Humans are restricted to such a bland list of overused titles that have been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years. How many Jessicas must I confuse with each other in my cell phone buddy list before I realize I need to stop making friends with Jessicas? Surely, the influx of Nathans and Sarahs will end someday... Is it just me, or have I met enough Justins to fill a moderately sized water silo? With all these common names floating around, at work, at home, in our romantic lives, and even on television, what's the harm with a little spark of originality in the form of your pet's alias?
It is perhaps pointless to dwell on the mysteries of the typical human brain and why they continue to reuse these weathered labels, but I can at least be happy with my lot. I dare you to find another snake named Widdershins, or another tarantula named December. As for my dog, he is named Beowulf, after the legendary hero.
Mia on July 31, 2020:
I have two dogs and their names are Wilson and Romeo
THE GREATEST NON-SPORT ARTICLE IVE EVER READ!!!!!!! on July 22, 2020:
I LOVE THIS ARTICLE SO MUCH!!!! Usually I read sports articles (just because I am a sports geek) Also my Pugs name is Dudley from Harry Potter because he so fat.
budgie on April 30, 2020:
please reply on the comments. The title you written is 'worst 5 pets' (something like that).
LeahFreckles on April 19, 2020:
Why do i need to know these boring dog names? people can name their dog/pet whatever they want! I cannot believe there is an article that talks about having a good dog name. Like what the heck? I am very very disappointed in this article. :/
Asialyna on February 18, 2018:
My 3 dog names are pumpkin patches and piper they are all ps our 24day old puppy died we were gonna name her page
Shaddie (author) from Washington state on December 15, 2013:
That's a cute name! :) And original, too.
Abby on December 11, 2013:
I have a dog named Crouton.
Shaddie (author) from Washington state on October 24, 2012:
I am always delighted when people put ranks/titles in front of their pets' names, like Sir, or Chancellor... It is the best :D
Janie on October 23, 2012:
My dogs name is Sir Wiggles-a-lot. It's great because I having met another dog with the same name and people getting a kick out of when I introduce him.
Shaddie (author) from Washington state on September 23, 2012:
I like your style of names ;) I do not, however, know where the name Gameldansk originated. It sounds very unique though, definitely not the norm as far as names for dogs go!
ian on September 23, 2012:
my current dogs name is Beowulf too. His grand uncle was Greystoke (I couldn't call my dog Tarzan) and his son is named Gameldansk, i leave you to figure that out
Lioness on August 31, 2012:
My last dog was already named when we got her: Sasha. Yes, I know, boring...
Our current dog has a name that I think is good: Jaxi. Named after C.S Lewis' dog.
shea duane from new jersey on May 07, 2012:
So funny and so true. But I once had a dog named Io who could open the fridge and seemed to understand everything I said.
Shaddie (author) from Washington state on May 07, 2012:
Robustus, that is GREAT! Latin names are phenomenal, I've named a few frogs after their own scientific names :) I also am fond of the name 'Pup' for some reason. It's short and to the point. I like your style of naming for sure.
Ausemade from Australia on May 06, 2012:
Love your sense of humour... our first dog that came from the RSPCA we named 'Pup' (this was because she was still a pup and we could not decide on a name). We also call her 'Pupperlicious', although when she is older we have contemplated calling her 'Pop'. Our second rescued dog we called 'Ro' short for 'Robustus'... which is part of the latin name for a euro kangaroo, Macropus robustus...
Shaddie (author) from Washington state on March 11, 2012:
The name Kissy Lipstick had me laugh out loud. That is super cute :) I'm glad to hear that someone else out there is making up unique names for their pets!
Ciel Clark from USA on March 11, 2012:
Snort, I love that name.
This hub gives an important message Shaddie! (I think it goes for people too, but that's another topic)
One of my first dogs when I was about seven, I named Baby Burrito, and I've since had dogs named Winston Waffle, Sir Wiggles, and Kissy Lipstick. Wiggles was the best dog of the bunch and we tried to make his name more dignified as he got older by adding the "Sir"
My horse was Keoke, and I've had cats named Mr Biscuit JellyFishRoll, The Foamster, and Eggroll. Eggroll was actually named by my son when he was just learning to talk. He pointed at the kitten and said, "Egguh!"
Shaddie (author) from Washington state on March 02, 2012:
Chaos is a beautiful word, regardless of the meaning! What a great choice for a name, and it does seem quite fitting.
Jules on March 01, 2012:
I agree completely! All of our friends named their dogs boring, common dog names and to me, it is a missed opportunity to have a little fun. When we adopted our wheaten terrier mix from the pound we named him Chaos because he was crazy and the whole situation surrounding his adoption was crazy. It fits him and everyone gets a kick out of his name.
Shaddie (author) from Washington state on February 13, 2012:
That sounds like an exceptionally smart pooch! The smart ones are the ones you have to watch out for the most ;) Mischievous little cuties.
Juliek958 from Norman, Oklahoma on February 09, 2012:
My first dog was Mindy - actually named after Mork and Mindy. She was a rescued dachsund mix. Quietly intelligent but with a little spunk. My second dog was Sophie - another rescued dog of unknown origin, a little border collie in coloring but lots of fluffy, soft hair. Sophie fit as she was snuggly and quiet. Just content to be with me. I intended to get another dog like her but sometimes God just knows what you need more than you do. I have a comedienne...a terrier mix by the name of Roxie. I named her because I thought she might have some Fox Terrier in her but again, as a rescued dog, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. She picked me that day and I am completely wrapped around her paws. Roxie was perfect name as my little Roxie has moxie! All 25 pounds of her...she can get a peanut butter jar off the counter, unscrew the lid and lick that jar so clean it looks like it's been through the dishwasher!
Highly possible common names but so far, haven't encountered any problems at the vet. Especially with Roxie. She has that place wrapped around her paws too!
Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on February 09, 2012:
I live in Texas - around here, if you go down certain roads and yell for "Bubba," most of the dogs in the neighborhood and half the men come running. Nice hub - voted up and interesting.
Shaddie (author) from Washington state on February 01, 2012:
Anne, I could not agree more! I love the name Jack, but I can't stand when people use the breed name in the name of their pet :P Lazy lazy lazy.
Ann on January 28, 2012:
I also wanted to add that the one thing that annoys me more than multiple Maggies is when people name their Jack Russell "Jack" or "J.R" or their Pug "Pugsley" etc. Talk about lack of imagination!!
Anne on January 28, 2012:
I'm at fault for not changing my dogs name when we got her. She was four and knew nothing EXCEPT her name. Maggie. .I meet so many other dogs named Maggie, and I hate it.
My friend and groomer named all her pets after food. Her dogs are Noodle, Scooby Snacks and Popcorn. And her cats are Oreo and Bubblegum!! I love it!
Donna Cosmato from USA on December 31, 2011:
Great viewpoint! I never really considered how hard it would be on a staffer at a boarding kennel or vet's office to differentiate between numerous dogs with the same name, but it makes sense. I love your sense or humor and writer's voice as well. Voted up and useful.
Shaddie (author) from Washington state on December 20, 2011:
Burger! What a sad name for a cow, haha... Though when I was younger, we always named our goldfish after types of sushi :)
Eranofu from Europe on December 20, 2011:
Hehe, my first thought was about cows that people call Snack or Burger...
Sadly, dogs have bad names too. When I had my dog, her name was Kirke from Greek mythology. :)
Shaddie (author) from Washington state on December 15, 2011:
Moonlake, I actually really like the name Reno. I've never met a dog with the name Reno, but there are a lot of people online who chose the name Reno for themselves :)
moonlake from America on December 15, 2011:
We have a Reno which I know is common. At the time that we got him we had his sister and we named them Reno and Reba. We once had Tatum,Lindy,Kelly,Alex,Rufus,Susie,Zebrina,Taffy,Jessy,
Mitzie, Heidi and we now have a Doc. I hate Doc's name but he was a rescue. We didn't feel we should change his name.
Enjoyed your hub, interesting.
The name I hear the most lately is Capone usually a Pit Bull.
Shaddie (author) from Washington state on December 15, 2011:
Sprout and Kitsune are both great names. I'm surprised veterinarians don't know what kitsunes are. Being in the world of animals, you'd think they knew a little something about animal mythology?
Armenianmom1 on December 15, 2011:
Well we have 3 dogs and they all have nice names in my opinion, our females name is lil'bit, and our 2 males are raider and gunner.....guess which one is the hunting dog lol
34th Bomb Group on December 15, 2011:
We have always been "dog people," and have tried to come up with "meaningful" names. After Toby the Weimeraner and Rocky the Staffordshire Terrier at least.
First was "Trey," because he was a three-part mix. (We knew his parents.) I lapsed a bit with "Sam, the BEST DOG EVER!" She came from the pound with that name and she was so traumatized we didn't want to further confuse her. Next was Gryffindor, my son was quite into Harry Potter and we'd used Percy, Hermione and Harry on the cats.
That brings us to "Sprout." Sprout is the man of the hour - currently attempting to mate with Percy, who is a girl. This annoys her. I got Sprout during the year my Dad was very sick and I was going back and forth to Florida on a regular basis. Gryff died and I wasn't going to get another dog until I wasn't doing the back and forth routine.
I went on four web sites - ALL of which suggested that a Schipperke was the perfect dog for me. A WHAT? I said to myself "What the f***'s a Schipperke?!" My Father overheard me and said "Oh, yeah - the Canadians brought those back from Europe," after he told me that language wasn't appreciated. I wanted to pop him.
So I went back home where I discovered that, due to the quickness I had to go to Florida that time, I hadn't turned off the newspaper. Right there under "Dogs for Sale" I see a SCHIPPERKE! (For $1,000 no less.)
So the next day I called and met "Sprout." He had some stupid name like Mickey at the time. I took him home - for about $300.00. He was 4 months old and a terror.
I was set to call him "Leo." The King of Belgium was Leopold and he WAS from Belgium after all. 'Til my Mother suggested either "Waffle" as in Belgian Waffle or "Sprout" as in Brussels Sprouts. I took the lesser of the dumb names. I still wanted Leo but thought it would be a kindness to take Mother's suggestion.
So now we have "Starr's Spectacular Sprout." (He had to be registered.) He waddles so "Waffle" was out. He's a riot, a pip, a pain in the butt and he barks at everything he thinks he sees. Sprout fits no matter what my son says and he's my boy. He's also fended off more than one obnoxious man. He doesn't look like much but he's the best guard dog and personal protection I have ever had.
I kinda love him, too.
Dragonrain on December 15, 2011:
Eh what's in a name, I say let people name their pets whatever they want too and let it be. Different people like different types of names, and just because you might think a name is boring doesn't mean that the dog's owners might not really like the name.
My dog's name is Kitsune, which I don't think is boring, but you should hear his vets and random people try to pronounce his name correctly. Most people look at me like I have two heads when they ask me what my dogs name is. So apparently, having more unique names can present some problems sometimes too.
Also all the vets offices and boarding kennels I've ever been to list the dogs with their first name, and then the owners last name. So even if they did have 30 Sams in the kennels at once they should at least be able to tell which is which by the last name.
I tend to agree with you in that I personally like to give my pets more unique names. But everyone is different and I don't judge. If people like the more common dog names for their dog, than that's their choice and nothing is wrong with that.
Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on December 15, 2011:
Boring pet names are really no fun. I like to name my hamsters after vampires since they are nocturnal and can sometimes bite. I think it is funny. No one else seems to get the joke though. Fun hub and voted up!