In addition to his veterinary work, Dr. Mark also trains dogs—mostly large breeds and those that suffer from aggression problems.
Tough Names for Your Tough Dog
A lot of dogs need tough names. Well, maybe not need, exactly. But, a lot of dogs look great wearing a tough name—whether it's a guard dog that needs a gangsta name to match its brawny exterior or a little, scrawny dog that needs some street cred.
In this article, we'll look to real world and pop culture for tough-name inspiration. Since dogs respond best to two-syllable names, here is a list of two-syllable dog names inspired by:
- Rappers, singers, and bands
- Names that mean tough things
- Mythological figures
- Tough sounding words
Male and Female Dog Names Inspired by Rappers, Singers, and Bands
A lot of musicians adopt “gangsta,” outlaw images. Some of them are real, some of them are just acting up for the videos, but all of them have great names:
- Arcade (short for Arcade Fire, an alternative rock band)
- Dido (female)
- Fergie (female)
- Ice Cube
- Ke$ha (female)
- Pitty (female, a Brazilian singer)
- Twisted (short for Twisted Sister, an older acid rock band with a tough, “We´re not gonna take it” image)
- Waylon (a country singer with an outlaw image)
Does this list give you any ideas? There are a lot of new bands that I have not put on the list—if one of them has a name that gives off the vibe you want for your dog, consider using it. Again, just keep in mind that good names for a dog need to be two syllables, like those in the list above. "Chamillionaire" might be a cool name, but it isn't something you should expect your dog to respond to.
I have a pitbull, and people already give her space, even though she is the sweetest thing in the world. I bought a spike collar and she looks even tougher when strolling around on our afternoon walks.
Outlaw Dog Names
Here are famous outlaws, both real and fictional, that you can name your dog after. The suggested name is in bold—for example, for "Baby Face Nelson," it's much easier to call "Nelson" than "Baby Face."
- Bonney: Billy the Kid's last name
- Bonnie: from Bonnie and Clyde
- Lizzie Borden: ax-murderer
- Butch Cassidy: bank and train robber
- Al Capone: the boss of the Chicago mafia
- Genghis Khan: founder of the Mongolian Empire. Though not everyone considers him an outlaw, it's impossible to deny that he killed thousands of people.
- Jesse James: murderer and bank and train robber
- Theo Kojak: NYPD detective lieutenant from the 70's TV series
- Baby Face Nelson: murderer and bank and train robber
- Robin Hood: fictional English outlaw who stole from the rich and gave to the poor
- 'Tila: short for Attila, the Hun who ruled over a huge swath of Asia and Europe in the 400s
- Darth Vader: fictional villain in Star Wars
- Pancho Villa: famous general in the Mexican Revolution
- Vlad the Impaler: the prince of Wallachia who fought the Ottoman Turks
- General Zod: fictional villain in various Superman comic-book series
Or you can avoid all of these and just call him “Outlaw” or “Bandit."
This might not be for everyone, but you could always name your tough dog after a notorious prison:
- Chino: a state men's prison in San Bernardino County, California
- Folsom: a state prison near Sacramento, California
- Hatfield: a men's prison and Young Offender's Institution in Yorkshire, UK
- Lompoc: a federal men's prison in California
- Parchman: the oldest maximum security men's prison in Mississippi
- Raiford: Florida's state prison, which houses its execution chamber
- Rikers: New York City's correctional facility, which sits on Rikers Island
- Sing Sing: a maximum security state prison in New York
- Yodok: a political prison camp in North Korea famous for its human rights violations
People With Tough Names
Father of peace
Strong in faith
Strong in battle
Short for Alexander; a defender of men
Man of steel
Short for Alexander; a defender of men
As soon as you find a name, get your tough puppy a name tag. Be sure to include your cell phone number on the tag. His or her life may depend on it some day.
Also talk to your vet about a microchip the next time you visit.
Tough Guys From Mythology
Here are famously tough men and women from various religions and Greek and Norse mythology:
- Ares: the Greek god of war
- Atlas: the Titan in Greek mythology who carries the world on his back
- Ajax: a hero in Greek mythology who was so strong and skilled in battle that he held off the entire Trojan army at one point during the Trojan War
- Bacchus: the Greek god of wine. I am not sure how tough this god was, but he did get up every morning and throw another party, never taking a day off to nurse a hangover.
- Hades: the Greek god of the underworld
- Hera: as Zeus's wife, she was the queen of Greek gods. Known for her vengeful personality, Hera is the mother of Ares, mentioned above, and Eris, the goddess of discord.
- Loki: a Norse god or giant, Loki is a shapeshifter famous for causing trouble. After being punished by the gods, who tie him up with his son's entrails and leave him under a venom-dripping serpent, his convulsions are said to be the cause of earthquakes.
- Maia: one of the daughters of Atlas who helped teach Bacchus as a child and eventually turned into the constellation Pleiades.
- Neptune: the Roman name of “Poseidon,” the Greek god of the sea. This name is a great choice for a dog that likes water
- Samson: a biblical man of superhuman strength
- Shaitan: Satan's Arabic name
- Thor: the Norse god of thunder
- Titan: Titans were the Greek giants of incredible strength who preceded the Olympian gods
I named my pit bull “Ajej,” which is the Moroccan Arabic word for “sandstorm.” That may not seem tough enough for some people, but the storms in north Africa are fierce enough to drive grains of sand into your flesh, and I have seen bikers lose control of their motorcycles when hit with one of these winds. That's a tough storm.
There are a few rules you should remember when naming any tough puppy:
- Don’t forget to choose a name that has one or two syllables. A lot of good names with three or more syllables did not make this list. A lot of people would like to have a dog called “Dillinger,” for example, but names longer than two syllables are difficult to use for commands. Of course, if you have a long name that you really like, you should use it, but be sure to find a good nickname.
- Do not use any name that sounds similar to the name of a dog you already have.
- Don´t give your new dog a name that sounds like one of his training commands—“Grit” may be tough, but it sounds too much like “sit”! If you give him a name that sounds like one of his basic commands, he is going to get confused and not perform when he should. None of the dog names I have suggested in this list sound like any commands.
- Give your dog a name that commands some respect and stay away from the dog names I would not use. Most tough dog lists will recommend movie names like Rambo and Rocky. There are worse choices, but I would not want to make my dog go through his life with a name like that.
- Do not name your dog “Puddles” after an accident at the carpet. It may be funny at first, but will get old real fast.
- Do not brand your new dog with one of the overused dog names. Cody and Buster may sound good, but they are also going to be one of the most common names you run into when you take your dog to the park or to the vet. Your dog is an individual, and the last thing he needs is to be just another Harley. Every dog deserves a unique name!
More Dog Name Ideas
- Best Roman Dog Names for My Cane Corso
Are you searching for a great Latin or Italian name for your new Cane Corso puppy? Check out this list!
- Great Dog Names From Germany for Males and Females
Do you have a German dog breed? If so, you should find a special name. This article will give you plenty to choose from.
- Strong, Badass, Fighting Dog Names for Boxers
Powerful puppies that love to play need strong names to keep bullies away. Every one of these boxer names will let your puppy show off and feel strong! Just pick.
Questions & Answers
Question: I have a six-week-old Pit Bull puppy. She is brown and white, she has baby blue eyes, and she is very sweet, but she can also be serious and mean. Her dads' name was Zeus. I'm having trouble coming up with a name for her, could you help me?
Answer: Is she a red nose? Zeus is kind of overused in Pits, so I came up with this list that might help: https://hubpages.com/dogs/best-name-for-a-red-nose...
(My red nose has an Arabic name, but a name like Crimson or Rufus sounds great too.)
Question: I have a Border Collie-German shepherd and can't think of a good name. Can you suggest some?
Answer: I like fast names for a dog like that. Flash, Sonic, Jordan, etc. Try this list and see if there is anything else you like: https://hubpages.com/dogs/best-names-for-a-border-...
Question: I have a brother and sister blue nose pocket bullies, and I am having a hard times coming up with names. Do you have any ideas?
Answer: Since you have a brother and sister, how about naming them after the brother and sister that started it all: Zeus and Hera. The names work for bullies.
Question: I have an Alaskan Malamute. It's grey and white in color. What should I name it?
Answer: Try to look at a map of Alaska and find some native words that are two syllables, preferably ending in a vowel. I also have a list of authentic words for Siberian Huskies if you care to reference it: https://hubpages.com/dogs/best-names-for-a-siberia...
Question: I am adopting a Siberian Husky and Doberman mix puppy. She has a very fluffy and has an extremely soft coat right now. She is gorgeous and has one blue-gray eye. The other is a gorgeous piercing blue. I'm looking for a unique name for her; possibly something non-American. Do you have any ideas for a name?
Answer: I don't think a Sibe/Dobie mix needs a tough name. How about Vixi? (Pronounced Vee-see) That is a Brazilian expression that means "Oh my God!" and we use it when we see something unique, special, and impressive. Your puppy sounds like a little Vixi.
Question: I have an eight-week-old girl American pit/ brindle pit-dalmatian puppy. She is full of spunk and loves to chomp, but when it's downtime, she will tell you in a soft whimper. She's very vocal and incredibly sweet and cuddly too. I love the name Harley, but notice it is an overused name. I want something that represents her spunky craziness to her sweetness. Can you help me with a name?
Answer: What about Fergie? It's sweet and not too spunky. I have a Ke$ha at home too.
Question: I have a Brindle Cane Corso he is eight-weeks-old and I am having a hard time with names for him. Do you have any ideas?
Answer: I like authentic names. Here are some good choices for a Cane Corso:
Question: I have a blue nose pitbull puppy that's seven weeks old. He's grey with white under his chin and chest. I'm having trouble choosing his name. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer: I think "Loki" is an excellent choice.
I have a red nose Pitbull, and I wrote another article on best names for a red nose Pitbull. I do not know if you will find anything on there that you want but you can try: https://hubpages.com/dogs/best-name-for-a-red-nose...
© 2013 Mark dos Anjos DVM
Me not you on June 16, 2020:
What do you think of the name I gave my 80lb put bull I adopted from the shelter, he left there with the name Triston but came home with the name trouble.
Abby on June 15, 2020:
I had a blue nose purple ribbon puppy.she lived fo be 14 and waa a beautiful bluish grey and went ro work with me everyday. I worked in a pottery shop. Anyway her name was Cassius Clay floated like a butterfly a blue bull in a china shop who never stung like a bee and was the color of clay. It was the name Ali's mamma gave him and Cassius means protector. Best dog ever she will never be forgotten and i a so truely missed.
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on January 09, 2020:
For a toy or miniature poodle, I really like these names: https://pethelpful.com/dogs/-funny-dog-names-for-a...
Anonymous on January 08, 2020:
I have a small brown curly hair poodle. But i cant find a name that is sweet and gentle like her that fits
Anonymous on September 27, 2019:
I’m getting a German shorthaired pointer and I don’t have a clue what to name him
Karrie L Wall on September 27, 2019:
Just got a new female puppy she is a pit xl , German shepherd rottweiler mix and trying to figure out a good name fore her she is a brindle colored
Anonymous on May 17, 2019:
I am getting a new Puppy I am naming her teyo but I also call her coco which one is better?
Dog Doc on May 01, 2019:
I have a Blue Micro Bully. I name him Stich from the Kids Movie "Lilo and Stich".
Mishka Katyayan on April 30, 2019:
Just got a german Sheppard pup and u have no idea what to name him
Anonymous on March 10, 2019:
I might be getting a black and brown Doberman Pinscher but I can’t choose a name. Some options are
Rhondapitbully momma on February 17, 2019:
I have a blue nose male puppy and have no idea what to name him i need a tough name please help
Sue on January 24, 2019:
TANK is a great name. So is CANE or KUDZU. It doesn't get any tougher than that!
Three on January 14, 2019:
i'm stuck between hades and bandit
raftar on November 17, 2018:
Very sweet name
Awesome on November 17, 2018:
My dogs name is Torq! Well TorqueWrench but we just call him Torq. I had a Joey Boxer but her "real" name was Josyf Ray Amanda. And our pup is Leia ... Leia Skywalker Organa Solo, yes i did include skywalker. They gotta have "show names" ha, theyre Not show dogs!
Ruth Bridges on October 21, 2018:
I would never put a collar around my dogs neck. Imagine having a collar on your own neck and then someone pulling on it. Now imagine you have a harness on . Much kinder to you if someone pulls on it. Harnesses ONLY !!!
Patty on October 17, 2018:
Any ideas for a little Maltese?
Country girl on April 29, 2018:
im gonna name my dog chevy and gunner
Lucy Hobbs on April 15, 2018:
jacob on March 18, 2018:
i named my pit boxer mix blitz
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on November 30, 2017:
Blake, have you read the Prey books by John Sandford? Patch over the eye reminded me of a scar over the eye, with blue eyes, what about Lucas? (From Lucas Davenport.)
Blake on November 30, 2017:
I am getting this new puppy it is a mini Australian Shepherd and it has a patch over it eye and it has blue eyes what do you think I should name it
Paula on July 22, 2017:
I had a female red heeler named her Thistle someone stole her. But I thought the name was different. I raise heelers. My second love now is a jack Russell his name is Torque.
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on November 10, 2016:
Hi Jennifer, I think Ruger sounds good, or how about Mossi (for Mossberg)? Cali will work too. (Caliber). Good luck with them, sorry to hear about the other dogs.
Jennifer on November 09, 2016:
We had 2 blue pits named Bella and Trigger but our house was broke into n the shot our dogs as they came out the door so we have 2 new pups we named our female maci and I was thinking ruger for our male but I'm not sure since we didn't name out female remi short for Remington what do you think I have had them 2 weeks and we haven't decided on our little guy a name yet and our female has her name bc my daughter isn't gonna have it any other way
jenny salvador on June 01, 2016:
what about spooky ?
Anonymous on February 02, 2016:
I have a 7 week old female blue pitbull and i would like to give her a badass name not a mean or tough name just something that sounds cool
lol on December 17, 2015:
lol at this alexander in greek **** it's Albanian and it means the Boy from the Dream ALEANDERR
caddy on October 22, 2015:
Name my dig caddy after my favorite car Cadillac
Deegsma on March 14, 2015:
We had a beautiful fawn bluie pit bull. He was the best dog EVER!, his name was Deegan. Tough ass name for my gentle giant. You can add to your list or use if anyone is looking for a dreat dog name.
Samantha on March 02, 2015:
Hi! I just brought home an AM staf - white and black. Wanting a strong loyal name...
Btw this page is great!!
karenweir on February 07, 2015:
I would have wanted a meaner name but that was good
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on November 13, 2014:
I think Gunner or Gunter sound tough, like a good boy. What kind of dog are you expecting?
peeps popper on November 12, 2014:
How about thunder or guntner leave me a comment which one it's a boy.
Calie on November 11, 2014:
I have a great name, I named my puppy, Kryptonic.
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on September 01, 2014:
Chi Chi! Did he walk in the room carrying an extra-small muzzle? Great story.
B Lucy from Podunk, Virginia on September 01, 2014:
Love, love, love this hub. Voted Up and across the board. I have a mastiff my daughter named Chi Chi which of course people use for chihuahuas. Imagine the vet's surprise when he walked in expecting a little peep and finding a beast! Very good advice about the short names - dogs respond well to one or two syllables. Chi Chi progressed to Cheech which I think is also an awesomely badass name!! Thanks so much for this hub!!
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 30, 2014:
Great idea, Cheeky Kid. I knew someone (years ago!) who named his 200 pound dog "Kitty", since who is going to expect a huge slobbering dog to appear when he calls out "Here kitty, kitty"?
Cheeky Kid from Milky Way on August 30, 2014:
Lol. Why not do the reverse and give them a "girly" name. Not sure but that way, they might sound suspiciously more tougher...and funny. hahaha.
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 20, 2014:
Thanks Jackie the name Lockjaw sounds tough!
Jackie Reinke on August 20, 2014:
What about Lockjaw from the pet avengers? He's a beasty bulldog. You could always add Riddick on there too. Especial for dogs whoseem to be able to escape from anywhere. And then there's Diesel. Like Vin Diesel.
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 08, 2014:
I guess Oreo has trouble being tough, but you never know. He could tell the other dogs that he hangs out with a bunch of tough dragons!
KnowWhatImean on August 06, 2014:
My dogs are named after food - Flour and Oreo, but my Bearded Dragon's name is Doomagheddon, the Redoomagheddoning. We call her Doom though. :)
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 18, 2014:
It really depends on her personality too, Morgan. I am boarding a Red Nose that always looks sad, and a tough name just isn't right for her.
If you have a tough little puppy, what about naming her Chino (after the prison in California)? Does that work for you?
Morgan Paige on July 18, 2014:
I have a chinaman pit puppy she's blue. . Any ideas on a name for her?
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 26, 2014:
Mquade works! It does not roll off my tongue, but then again not all of the good ones do.
Mquade on June 25, 2014:
Mquade from Chuck Norris movie, LoneWolf Mquade is sweet.
Carrie Lee Night from Northeast United States on June 25, 2014:
Interesting and just a fun hub :) thank you for sharing
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 22, 2014:
Thanks for the share, Solaras.
DavidG, is your white Pit a red nose? I have a bunch of red nose Pitbull names
or white dog names at
Whatever, just pick something different!
DavidG on June 22, 2014:
Named my first pit Axe, after the lone survivor.... soon came to realize there was an Axe murderer too. Tough as it gets but now I'm having trouble with my second pit because he's all white... so don't know?
Barbara Fitzgerald from Georgia on June 21, 2014:
Great List Dr. Mark - Pinned and Shared!
BODYLEVIVE from Alabama, USA on May 29, 2014:
Our first pit came from our son's pit bull, Titus. He was first pick and was given to us without a name, we called him Conan. Our second pit was given the name Eragon. I chose these names because of their breed. Conan only lived to be 4 months old. Eragon will be 8 years old comes his birthday in August.
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 29, 2013:
Thanks Bob, Kojak is such a good one that I had to edit and add it. I wasn´t quite sure where, though! Maybe I should skip over and add it to my Sitcom Dog Names. (calm down, I am just kidding; you guys from Mass are really sensitive)
Hi Mary thanks for stopping by. This list was fun to put together, too. That is the best part about working in a niche you enjoy!
Mary Craig from New York on June 29, 2013:
What great lists you have here. I'm sure a lot of them will be used now that you've so graciously pointed them out. As always your advice is right on the money.
Voted up, useful, and interesting.
Bob Bamberg on June 29, 2013:
Nobody names their dog Kojak, after the tough Telly Savalas character in the 1970s TV series of the same name. Isn't that a good one? Maybe it's too close to Cujo.
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 23, 2013:
Thanks Billie! Zod is such a cool outlaw name I had to edit this and put it on my list. That name really sounds tough!!
Billie Kelpin from Newport Beach on June 23, 2013:
I'm very afraid of tough dogs, especially when my fearless, naïve, little llapsha/shih-tzu Scooter growls at them, but this is fun. How about Zod? as in General Zod in "Man of Steel"? or Khan as in 'the wrath of...'? oooh, "Tony" (for Tony Soprano) - too much fun. back to work
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 22, 2013:
I did the same thing with my Maltese, Kristen. I am not sure if that was an excuse for his swagger or not!
Kristen Haynie from Scotia, CA on June 22, 2013:
This is pretty cool! I like to use tough names like many of these for my small pets: parakeets, bunny rabbits, kittens, etc. I think it's funny. There are lots of great ideas in this Hub! Thanks for sharing!