Barbara Fitzgerald is an AKC Breeder of Merit and author of the column "Conversations with Champions" for the BCSA magazine, Borderlines.
Looking for an unusual name for your new male dog? Celtic history and legend provide a rich pantheon of untapped dog names. But, remember, names may have the power of self-fulfilling prophecy, so choose your dog’s name wisely. Here is a list of strong Irish and Scottish names from myth and legend for dogs of all sizes, breeds, and colors.
Dog Names From Irish Mythology
1. Angus: Both Irish and Scottish, Angus was the Celtic god of Love, Beauty and Dreams. Derived from Old Irish, “Oengus” it means exceptional strength, unique choice, chosen one, and unique strength. His tale and those of his many loves has been told for over 5,000 years in Irish mythology.
Perhaps the most famous is the tale of his love from Caer. Every night Angus dreamt of a lovely dark-haired beauty, and every day he searched the Earth for this lovely girl. He searched until he grew weary and ill from disappointment. Finally he was too ill to continue the search, and fearing for his life, the other gods set out to search for the lady of his dreams. They finally found her near a lake and sent word to Angus that she had been found.
However, upon his arrival he learned that she was bewitched. She was a lady by night, but a swan by day. In order to be with his great love, Angus mirrored the transformation; they are man and woman by night and swans by day. If your seeking a loving companion, choose Angus to fulfill your dreams.
2. Arawn: A Celtic god, a mythical king of the underworld. A good name for a dark dog.
3. Balor or “Balor of the Evil Eye”: In Irish mythology, Balor was a king of the Fomorians, a race of giants. He is remarkable for having one eye on his forehead and the other directly at the back of his head. This eye prevented enemies from sneaking up on him. Additionally, the eye at the back of his skull, the evil eye, had the power to burn with a deadly eye beam and wreak havoc on his enemies. Name your dog Balor if you want a giant, ever-watchful guard dog.
4. Lir: Irish Lord of the Sea. His children were turned into swans by his jealous second wife. Under this curse, they waited 900 years for St. Patrick to come to Ireland and ring the Christian Bell, freeing them from the spell.
5. Lugh: Celtic God of the sun and lightning. Strong and radiant, he is master of all skills, including carpentry, masonry, Druidry, and poetry. He is also a smith of precious metals and a doctor of healing. Call your dog Big Lugh if you want to call forth the characteristics of Discipline, Strength, and Courage.
6. Fáilinis: The treasured hound of Lugh (see description above), he was invincible in battle; he caught every wild beast he encountered, and he could transform the running water he bathed in into wine. He was used as a guard dog and provided the gods an endless source of wine. Name your dog Failinis if you’re looking for a guard or hunting dog that likes to party.
7. Fermac (or Fer Mac): This is another dog of Irish mythology sharing similar qualities to Failinis. Fermac is described as a parti-colored furred dog who belched out wine, gold, and silver. Though Fermac was a huge dog by day, he shrank down to the size of a lapdog by night.
Legend has it that two watchmen, in defiance of a specific warning, spied on the threesome from Iruaid (the owners of Fermac) at nighttime. However they suffered the consequences for their disobedience. Fermac, in the form of a lapdog, swirled up a druidic wind with his tail, and “the watchmen were swept away, their swords driven into each other's bodies.” Name your dog Fermac if you have giant guard dog that thinks he is really a lapdog.
8. Finn MacCool: Also Fionn. A legendary warrior, Finn MacCool roasted the Salmon of Wisdom. While he roasted the great salmon on the fire, its juices spit on his thumb. Finn sucked his thumb to cool it, and in so doing gained all of the knowledge possessed by the Salmon of Wisdom. Later in life, when confronted with a lack of knowledge, Finn had only to suck his thumb to receive understanding of his situation.
Names of Legendary Scottish and Irish Kings
9. Airell: This name is Celtic for Nobleman.
10. Cináed: This is pronounced "KIN-ay" or "KIN-ee." The modern form is Kenneth, and its pronunciation is very close to “Kenny.” Cinaed was the name of the first King of Scotland and King of the Picts. It means “born of fire” or “wise ruler.” A perfect naming choice for large working and herding dogs.
11. Conall: Means “Strong Wolf” in Gaelic. Used by both the Scottish and Irish, this is the name of several characters in Irish legend as a mythic warrior and also a legendary king. Use this name for Wolfhounds, Huskies, and Malamutes.
12. Duff or Dubh: Scottish, meaning “dark.” A King of Scotland, he reigned a brief 5 years until his murder. It is said that his body was hidden beneath a bridge, and that the sun did not shine until his body had been recovered. It is now known that an eclipse of the sun occurred at the same time as the day of his recorded death, confirming the veracity of the legend of his life and death. A great choice for a powerful dark dog like a Rottie, Newfie, or Dobbie.
13. Duncan: Scottish meaning “brown warrior.” The name of two Scottish kings, including one featured in Macbeth. A good choice for terriers and German breeds.
14. Niels or Naill: Meaning “champion.” Derived from Niall of the Nine Hostages, the greatest of the Irish High Kings; he lived in the 5th century. The nine hostages were royal hostages sent as tributes to the high king. They included one from each of the 5 Irish provinces and one each from Scotland, the Saxons, the Britons, and the Franks. St. Patrick was also brought to Ireland as a captive during the 9th year of Niall’s reign. Name your dog Niels or Naill if you want him to be a supreme champion.
Gentle Giants: Meaningful Irish and Scottish Names for Strong Dogs
15. Arden: Celtic, meaning eager, ardent. An amazing name for a performance dog.
16. Artek: Celtic, a variation of Arthur. Meaning strong as a bear, strong like a rock.
17. Dermid: Scottish, means without envy. Variations include Dermot, Derry, and Diarmad. Use this name for a gentle giant.
18. Guinness: Still the most popular alcoholic beverage in Ireland; name your dog Guinness if you want everyone to love him.
19. Seumas: This is pronounced SHAY-muhs, and it means the "the supplanter" or "substitute;" it is the Gaelic form of James. Name you dog Seumas if you find your new canine companion has taken over the household!
20. Simeon: A Hebrew name long used in Scotland and associated with Clan Fraser, it means "listener." Variations include Simon and Symon, and nicknames include Sim, Sym, and Syme. If you want your new dog to be an obedient dog that listens carefully, name your dog Simon or Simeon.
More Male Dog Name Ideas
- 50 Meaningful Native American Names for Male Dogs
These meaningful and lyrical Native American names and words make cool names for strong dogs and small dogs alike.
- Male Dog Names: 25 Noble Names For Strong Male Dogs
Looking for that perfect name for your strong dog? Check out these meaningful and powerful dog names based on noble titles from various cultures around the world.
- 20 Male Greek Names That Make Cool Dog Names
Is there a secret to naming dogs? The Pantheon of Greek Heroes, Gods and Monsters offers many interesting and unique names for male dogs; learn their stories and tips for choosing the perfect name.
Cheryl Sparrow on February 07, 2020:
I'm getting a male yorkshire terrier. Like Rian. Gaelic for little king.
Laura Wolfe on December 13, 2018:
Charlie Blue, colonel Cole, Gunner. Thoughts?! Thank you!
trish on August 15, 2018:
i am adopting a male Scottish Terrier puppy and would like a name that would have a Scottish flair to it. any suggestions??
JeanBakula on February 25, 2016:
Interesting. I'm thinking of getting a female Siberian Husky and want her to have an Irish name. I was thinking of Maeve. Any ideas? I liked your Greek names too. Very clever.
Barbara Fitzgerald (author) from Georgia on August 04, 2013:
Thanks Dr. Mark - I always enjoy your hubs as well. You have a great sense of humor and knowledge of dogs.
Dr Mark from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 04, 2013:
Some good choices--I just put this on my Pinterest "dog names" page.