Mythbuster | What’s in a Name?

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I don’t know what motivates you when naming your pets, but there are some ‘rules’ floating around out there about what’s a good name and what are things to avoid. Are these accurate, or are the just myths? Does it really matter what you name your dog? Let’s take a look at some of these guidelines:

  1. Don’t give your dog a human name. Huh? Tell that to Jack…and Maggie. This rule comes from the Monks of New Skete who breed and train German Shepherds. Their thinking behind it was giving the dog a human name may easily lead to anthropomorphizing the dog. Well, that may be, but if someone is taking the time to do research about the proper name for their dog and reading the monk’s training books – well they may be already on that path of treating their dog like a human – and what’s so bad about that?
  2. Don’t give your dog a name that sounds similar to a command like No, or Sit or Stay. Make sure the name is distinct from those common commands. This rule does make sense to me. It’s hard enough for dogs to master their commands, but if their name sounds like one of them it is only going to cause confusion and miscommunication.
  3. Keep the name to one or two syllables. I agree with this one too. Makes it easy to say and easy for the dog to understand.
  4. Use a name that is sex appropriate.  I really wanted to name my first Lab Max. I just LIKED the name. But, I also wanted a female because we wanted to breed her. So we had this pretty little female Lab named, Max. I won’t do that again. Obviously, she didn’t care, but it created a lot of confusion and explaining on my end.
  5. Give them a name with an “e” or a “y” at the end. This one is so it can end on a high note and be more sing-songy, and that higher pitch and modulation dogs respond more readily to.
  6. Use a name with a hard consonant at the end so it can be distinct and grab their attention – well, we did that with Jack and it seems to work.


SlimDoggy Jack

He just looks like a Jack doesn’t he?

Most people take the time to think about their pets names and it can be a fun family activity. Our Sally was named by Steve after a song he liked by Paw called Sweet Sally Brown. Tino was also named by Steve, after a famous Yankee baseball player, Tino Rodriguez and his brother Bernie was named for Bernie Williams, a teammate.
When we got Becca, we kept the name the rescue had given her, but when we adopted Jack, they had named him “Suka”. That just didn’t fit with this big lumbering Labrador, so we renamed him Jack, my choice. Maggie was named Della by the rescue and that seemed a little too old-fashioned for her so we renamed her too. All of them are human names, so I guess I’m guilty of anthropomorphizing. Oh well.


What is your dog’s name and how did you decide on it?



We are joining up with the Monday Mischief Blog Hop, hosted by Snoopy’s Dog Blog, Alfie’s Blog and My Brown Newfies



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  1. We have always given our dogs human names. I am just not a fan of traditional dog names. We named our first dog Madison from the movie “Splash.” I’d never heard anyone or any dog with that name back in 1982. Now, there are a ton of little girl’s with her name. We had met Bentley when he was given to a friend as a birthday present. We spent the weekend thinking of what we’d name him if he was ours. He simply looked like a Bentley. Two weeks later, the friend couldn’t keep him and offered him to us. They had named him “Flash!” We never called him that, he was Bentley immediately.

  2. Koira’s name doesn’t fit a lot of those. The main one I broke is the 1-2 syllable rule. Hers has three syllables, and is pronounced ko-ir-a. It isn’t a human name, it is a Finnish word that means dog. I started out pronouncing it correctly, but over the years, it morphed a bit into something that feels better when I say it as a name. I do make the eee sound of the -ir syllable nice and long sometimes, like when we are doing restrained recalls.

    Pallo’s name is also Finnish, to go with the theme that I started with Koira. His name means ball, since when I adopted him, he was completely ball obsessed. He still is, really, but is able to actually think around balls now! It is really easy to make the -o at the end of his name a really nice and long sound, again, during things like recalls.
    kkoira recently posted…Black and White Sunday: LogoMy Profile

  3. almost everyone has had human names… but now almost everything ends with an “e” sound; Katie, Trixie, Molly, Ise, Daisy, Sunny, Riley, Chicky .. the only one is my first dog Kyra, who I named after Kyra Sedgewick. 🙂 all are 2 syllables.
    Christine & Riley recently posted…Monday Mischief: Shih Tzus on the BeachMy Profile

  4. Obviously, Mom doesn’t agree with the first point either, but the others make sense. Mom keeps a running list of names she likes, but until she has the dog, she can’t pick a name. It has to suit the dog.
    Emma recently posted…Meanwhile, Back On The Farm with John DeereMy Profile

    • It really does have to suit the dog. Actually we were going to call Jack, Jake…but after a few days, I just found him more of a Jack…I know there’s not much difference, but Jack just felt better.
      mkob recently posted…Mythbuster | What’s in a Name?My Profile

  5. This was a fun post. In field test world you to should only have a one or two syllable name as you release your dog by its name and need to keep it clear. I named our first Chessie Brooke cause the property we just bought has a creek going through it. On her registered name I screwed up the name of the creek and called it sand creek instead of sand spring. John named Norman after norm on cheers, he wanted a fat lazy dog in the duck blind. I named Nellie not sure why but her registered name has hurricane in it as she was a hurricane puppy. I named gambler as I enjoy gambling and glory I named too when I heard lady gaga song on TV the edge of glory. I love her and anything to do with flags so glory it is.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Monday Mischief~Finished Test HRCMy Profile

  6. Pepper chose her name. We couldn’t come to an agreement on names so we each wrote our top pick on a piece of paper, crumpled them up and threw them on the floor. Then we told the puppy to pick her name. Logan was pulled from the shelter that I worked at. He was older, underweight, heartworm positive and not considered a good candidate for adoption. I took him anyway. I named him after the old sci-fi movie, Logan’s Run, where Michael York escaped death. Roxy was a rescue. We kept the name she knew because we felt it might help her assimilate better. Jedi is my first AKC papered dog and I wanted a name that would stand out when I show him. And I’m a huge Star Wars fan. We had to keep the kennel name (Zente), but his full name is Zente’s Jedi Mind Trick.
    Kelley recently posted…Friday Finds #5My Profile

  7. Hubby and I were undecided between \”Callie\” and \”Cassie\” until we saw her 2 weeks after she was born. We looked at her and both said \”Callie!\” at the same time. It just fit her. Before we got Shadow, I had decided that our 2nd Golden would follow her older sister around, hence \”Callie\’s Shadow\”, or Shadow for ease. And she has been Callie\’s Shadow since the day we brought her home (and mine too). Ducky was given that name by one of the shelter employees, and it fit her so well that we couldn\’t come up with anything better. My first dog who wasn\’t my Mom\’s dog first was Kissy. Her AKC registered name was Katie Scarlett, but she loved to give me kisses when I asked her for them, hence the name Kissy.Glad to hear Steve is a Yankee fan like me! But my favorite players were always Catfish Hunter and Bucky Dent.
    Callie, Shadow, and Ducky\’s Mom recently posted…With Tears in My Eyes & A Lump in My ThroatMy Profile

  8. We don’t give human names, but it is more of a preference than anything else. Not saying I would never give a human name though. I think I agree with not giving a name too close to a command. “Storm” and “Sit” are close. Of course she knows the difference and chooses to ignore….lol.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Senior Splash TimeMy Profile

  9. Names are so integral, I really thought about them when our dogs were named….and they usually ended up being names I would have named more children, except for McDuff…

  10. Easy sounds like the french “ici” what means “here”, so we sometimes get “THE” look from people when we call him. Butt this time I can borrow Easy’s phrase: wasn’t me. It was the breeder :o)
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog SMART SUNDAY & HELL-O TOMy Profile

  11. I love your dogs’ names, and I agree with most of those rules. Our Flash and Patches came with their names. My Hunny named Chewy, said he looked like a wee Chewbacca. He is rather Wookie-ish. Growing up, my favorite was our mutt, Wilbur. If it’s good enough for a pig, it’s good enough for a dog.
    Flea recently posted…Adorable Puppies, FBM 83My Profile

  12. Awhile back I wrote a blog post about the names of our dogs. Most are human names because most were named after humans! Ditto our horses’ names. Cats… not so much 🙂 Smiled about your female Lab named Max. When I adopted my black Lab puppy, I had my heart set on naming my next dog Spanky, thinking he’s grow up to be big and chunky. Joke was on me – Spanky was big and very LEAN!
    Sue recently posted…Left Behind | Monday MischiefMy Profile

  13. I named Ace and Scout. I apparently like one-syllable names. I just really like both those names and had them in mind before I even knew what kind of pet I was getting.

    When my husband adopted Beamer (before we were dating), Beamer’s name was actually Benz and his brother at the shelter was named Beamer. Well, Josh ended up adopting Benz but changed his name to Beamer. Are you confused yet? May have been a bit confusing to the cat too, but it seemed to work out OK.
    Lindsay recently posted…How to teach a dog to ring a bell to go potty – dog bell trainingMy Profile

    • I wanted to switch Tino’s name to his brother’s name (Bernie) because I like it better…but since he passed away from the distemper, I thought it might jinx things so we stuck with Tino.
      mkob recently posted…Mythbuster | What’s in a Name?My Profile

  14. Hi Y’all!

    Heard ’em all before.

    Most of my dogs have been rescues and come as adults without names. We tried out names on them and stuck with the one to which they answered. We tried to pick a name that suited the dog’s personality or appearance.

    Hawkeye came directly from the breeder and was 9 months old, so he already had a name…somehow, for daily life, we shortened it to Hawk. It can sound almost like a bark and he responds to it immediately.

    Y’all stop by,
    BrownDog’s Human
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…A Weekend Without Mischief…My Profile

  15. I think the best way to pick a name is to look at your dog, get to know it’s personality then pick something that just fits.

  16. Glad to see my name fits in most of your rules. Mom told the story about how their family couldn’t agree on their dog Lucy’s name. Then, we named most of our pets the same as relatives, not recommended, add it to rules. Love Dolly Pees: Mom really wanted to name me Betty after Betty White but dad refused because its his sister-in-law’s name.
    Dolly the Doxie recently posted…The Guilt TripMy Profile

  17. Eko was named after a character on the show LOST and Penny just seemed like the right name at the right time. I tend to see the rules more as guidelines, you always have to go with your gut!

  18. Love reading how dogs got their names ! Our
    Weimaraners name is Taj Amira Qalbi (her akc name is silverhoneys hearts afire) …. Taj means crown, Amira means princess and Qalbi means heart – all in Arabic – so yes, Taj is the crown princess of my heart ! Weimaraners have a little crown on their head – one of their defining features plus – I love the name Taj – and thats what we call her day to day – only the full name when shes in trouble! Tally got her name from the song Tally’s lullaby … Which is such a sweet heart filled and heart wrenching lullaby that I loved ….

  19. My first dog Loki, I wanted a mythological name and went through an entire encyclopedia to pick it. Gemini was my favourite female sounding mythological name (and my sign), so when she came to the pack, I gave her that name. After much debate we kept the names given to Hailey and Zaphod by the people who rescued them because we liked them. It also saved the great debate of coming up with other names ourselves lol!
    Hailey and Zaphod recently posted…Mischief Monday – And the big ones chewed on the bones-oMy Profile

    • IT is easier to keep the names they were given…as long as you like them. Jack’s so didn’t suit him.
      mkob recently posted…Mythbuster | What’s in a Name?My Profile

  20. Interesting! I think you can name your pup whatever you desire!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Oh My dog! Blacklisted dog breedsMy Profile

  21. Super interesting post! Well, I blew it with the name Dakota. It can be male or female. When we got Dakota his name was “Tanner” and I HATED it. I had always loved the name “Dakota.” I went online and looked up the meaning, it means “Trusted friend” in American Indian (not sure what Tribe) and that was it! He became Dakota!! My husband wanted “Apollo”, not only did I not like it, but I thought it didn’t suit him. That being said, my husband OFTEN calls him “Dakota Apollo” lol
    Caren Gittleman recently posted…Barking out the thank yous!!!My Profile

  22. I really like Indian art and history and was very fond of the sound of the name Rama. It is the name of a Hindu diety (male) but when I saw an actress on tv with the name Rama I thought, “That’s it! Rama it is!” It really is the perfect name for her. Suits her well.
    Rama’s Mama recently posted…Monday Mischief–Road TripMy Profile

  23. I’ve heard 2, 3 and 5 and followed them to some degree. (I heard 5 as “end in a vowel sound, as the name will carry farther when you’re calling the dog.”) We’ve had Bailey, Abby and Rita, so I guess we anthropomorphize too! Bailey was named after Bailey’s Bay, near where we lived in Bermuda. Abby Louise was named by taking all the letters from Bailey’s name and mixing them up. (and throwing in a few extras….) Rita was named Peaches when we got her. (Makes me giggle.) We changed it to Rita after “peach margaRITAs” (my hubs makes a mean one!) and RosaRITo Beach where she was found.
    Jackie Bouchard recently posted…Monday Mischief: Rita’s First Ice Cream ConeMy Profile

  24. When we first brought Leo home I wanted to name him \”Davidson\” (don\’t laugh) that way when someone asks \”what are their names?\” I would say \”Meet Harley Davidson (I know you\’re laughing). My husband persuaded me not to – thank the doodle!

  25. Such a great a great topic for a post. I have one rule I follow that I call the “Neighborhood Rule.” Whatever you plan on naming your pet, imagine yelling it really loud in your neighborhood to get your pet’s attention, and that all the neighbors will hear it. A friend of mine convinced his parents not to name their dog Piaf because of that rule. As for me:
    Lilah is named for the Hebrew word for “night,” as she is near-solid black.
    Jasper is also named for his color: he is all kinds of tans and browns, like picture Jasper. Plus one of our favorite authors is Jasper Fforde.
    Tucker was named for no other reason than he “looked like a Tucker.”

    Wags (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats
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  26. It took us forever to decide on our dog’s names. It’s hard naming pets!! 😀 Zoe we got after a few hours but Phoenix took a few days to name. I think it took longer with Phoenix because she was so skittish and shy and her true personality wasn’t really showing.
    Lauren Miller recently posted…Dog Reactivity Win – Positive Pet Training Blog HopMy Profile

  27. Depends in which language you do speak to your pet. I imagine in this post that most people are English mother tongue or at least English speaking. I have been having since almost 2 decades Westies which are known to be pretty stubborn and with a strong character. As my own mother tongue is Italian, I did try several times to \”preach\” my beloved dogs in Italian. No reaction. In German and English almost immediate effect as the sound is more \”harsh\” especially in German or even worse, Swiss German. My new baby Westie is called \”Tosca\” that reflects a young woman from Tuscany, Italy, that is more than stubborn, strong character, pretty appearance and a bit aristocratic.

  28. I think human names can be some of the greatest names for our pets. I knew a cat named John and well I just love being able to say I knew a cat named John. My last dogs name was Carter, which seemed to fit him quite well. He was the quiet, reserved type. If he were human I would have considered him bookish.

    I named Laika after the Russian space mutt that became the first mammal to orbit Earth. She’s also a mutt and well, it just sounded right. And I can always sing that stupid State Farm ad “Like a good neighbor…” and she perks up.
    Jen Jelly recently posted…Outward Hound Dog Backpack ReviewMy Profile

  29. We thought Lucy would be a perfect name for our (then) little black retriever, so we named her that. We were thinking of multiple names for Comet, so we just ended up combining them. His full first name is King Comet, but we just call him Comet or Fluffy. Tahoe’s shelter name was Cocoa, which did not fit the manly, burly, dog he is (he’s a small, sweet terrier, but Cocoa was just not his name), so we began thinking of names of place. We decided Tahoe after Lake Tahoe in Nevada and California.
    TXpups recently posted…Drink More Water: How to Keep your Pup HydratedMy Profile

  30. Bek came to us as Buddy. It just didn’t fit him at all. So I researched names and came up with Bek. Which was the name of a dog used in the psychological study that trained dog’s mouth to water when there is a tuning fork.

    Jill kept her name when she came to us. And then she had the puppies. Kita gets her name from the book I was reading when she popped out. Twofus got his name because I wasn’t keeping him so I wasn’t naming him. Half of his face is white and the other half is black so we called him two face for a while, which morphed in to Twofus.

    Puck was picked up off the side of the road with no name. Again, I tried to not name her or get attached. Didn’t work. I called her little duck a lot in the beginning. Then we went with Puck. My husband is a huge hockey fan.

    All of them have nicknames as well, or can easily have an ee sound added to their name.

  31. Hahaha. I laughed out loud at the “don’t give your dog a human name’ rule. As if naming a dog Snoopy or Fido would stop anyone from anthropomorphising a dog. It’s not the name that makes you feel like there’s a human inside – it’s all in the eyes!! Haha!

    Thanks for the post and I loved hearing about how your dogs got their names. I’ll share my story too.

    Our Pug is called Chowski and we always get funny looks. He is named after a sign that we passed on the way to the Bungle Bungle mountain range in Western Australia. The sign said ‘Philchowski’s Crossing’ and for that whole journey we decided one day we’d get a pug and call him Chowski. A few months later we did!

    Our second dog, a Min Pin, came from a breeder. Her full show name is Supacharm Dress to Kill… a.k.a ‘Killer’. The name has just stuck so she is still Killer but we have changed the spelling to Killa (not quite as violent’!) This name makes me laugh because it’s ironic as she is the gentlest, sweetest dog you ever did see!

    • Love the stories – thanks for sharing.
      mkob recently posted…Tino at Big BearMy Profile

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