Karen B. London
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Popular Dog Names in 2011
Most are common for people, too
Rover, Fido, Spot, and Rusty? Max, Jake, Sam, and Charlie?

When I was deciding what to call my children, any name that seemed more like a dog’s name than a person’s name was immediately eliminated. That meant that I said, “No,” to Max, Sadie, Molly, Jack, Jake, Maggie, Lucy, Zoe, Charlie, Riley, Bailey and Sam, even though my grandfather was named Sam, and my dad’s grandparents were Max and Sadie. After years of training dogs in classes and in private consultations, those names seemed more canine than human to me. I was worried enough about treating my kids like puppies, and I didn’t want their names to make it even harder for me to learn how to be a parent to human children.

A generation ago, this would not have been a problem since the use of traditionally human names for our dogs is relatively new. It reflects the wonderful trend towards considering our dogs members of the family and our ever-closer relationship with them. So except for the fact that it added an extra challenge to choosing names for my children, I heartily embrace the changes in dog names.

The list of the top 10 dog names for 2011 according to Petfinder.com contains eight common human names (Max, Daisy, Bella, Lucy, Molly, Charlie, Jack, Sadie) and two names that sometimes belong to humans but are still more common for pets (Buddy and Rocky). This is a big contrast to years ago when Rusty, Rover, Fido, Spot, Chief and Patches were among the most popular names for dogs.

Does your dog have a name that is also popular with people?


Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by Stacy L. | January 3 2012 |

Our 13-year old dog is named Daisy...guess I was ahead of the curve. LOL. Our puppy's named Callie, and I've had dogs named Cookie and the more traditional Muffin while growing up.

My very first dog as a kid was a terripoo named Meggie...I named her after Meggie from The Thorn Birds. Had just watched the mini-series. :)

Submitted by Anonymous | January 12 2012 |

I had a foster dog at the beginning of last summer and called her Lucy. When my oldest friend had a little girl in November and called her Lucy I kept the crazy dog lady in check and didn't mention that I'd called a little beagle Lucy ;-)

Submitted by Anonymous | January 12 2012 |

All my dogs have "human" names: Henry, Holly, and Jasper. The kitties do not: Loki, Pixel, and Chess. :-)

Submitted by Anonymous | January 4 2012 |

It seems like almost every female dog I've met this year is either Stella or Bella.

Submitted by PP | January 4 2012 |

Our darling Lab was "just like people" so I guess that's why she is the only one of my dogs to have a people name - Molly. Our current boys are Dash (Irish setter) and Bean (Yorkie/Bichon mix). Growing up, my dogs had names like Harris, Pepper, Chintzy and Oden - not too popular with people, though Harris and Oden got cutesied into Harry and Odie.

However, our ferret is Mr. Jones and our cockatiel is Pippa!

Submitted by Marian | January 6 2012 |

About a year after I named my dog Teddy, a co-worker's wife had a baby that they named Edward. They call him Teddy. I think it's cute that we both have Teddies.

Of course, on any given day at the dog park, there will be at least one other Teddy there. It's such a common, almost cliche name these days, but it was the first name that popped into my head when I first laid eyes on him. I like to say that he told me what to name him.

Submitted by Judi Hales | January 10 2012 |

I love, love, love people names. As a trainer, I get a kick out of the people names I hear. Not only does it make them like a member of the family, but it is pretty darn funny too. But, then again, I have a weird sense of humor. My dog is named Lydia Louise. My cats are Paul and Silas. Not many cats named Paul around! Lol!

Submitted by Jim | January 11 2012 |

Our two kids ( yes the four legged ones) are Cooper James and Ellie May). They only get called their full names when they are in trouble.

Submitted by jules0527 | January 12 2012 |

I don't care for traditioal human names for my pets. My golden/sheltie is Emerson Fitzgerald and my cocolate lab is Tucker Aspen

Submitted by Ronnie | January 12 2012 |

When I got my Dachshund as a puppy, I knew of the German origins of the breed. But living in deep south Texas, close to the border of Mexico, I was torn between a German and Spanish name. I decided to call him "Max", short for "Maximilian", the Austrian dictator of Mexico. Too bad I couldn't get a "Carlotta" for him....

Submitted by Anonymous | January 12 2012 |

My dogs are Zelda, Barley, Takoda,and Liam. But here is what happens with dogs vs. human names - the never ending sweet nicknames we apply! In order - Zuzu, Missy Zuzu, Zuzabelle; Mister Wowley, Wowzer; Kody, Kodie Odie O; Bo Bo. They recognize all of their nicknames. When we name kids, we may nick it a little, but rarely as much as we do all the sweet callings we make up for our dogs!

Submitted by Kristine | January 12 2012 |

My puppy came to us with the name Elliot. Probably not a name I would have ever picked out of thin air, but when I saw his photo and then his name (via Petfinder of course!) - I was in love. Loved his face, loved his name, it just 'worked'. Everyone he meets also loves his name. I just recently learned that Elliot is on the top trending name for 'human babies'. Perhaps there is no difference when it comes to a member of the family? I know my dogs are my 'kids'.

Submitted by Ron Ayotte | January 12 2012 |

Our three dogs are named Bernie, Murphy and Bailey. The cats are named Jake and Mia.

Submitted by BAC | January 12 2012 |

My 11 year old failing Rottie(who I inherited from my daughter... I wouldn't let her take her when she move out) is Kira. I recently adopted a pom (I've never had a little dog) named Clark, who thinks he is Clark Kent!

Submitted by Julie | January 12 2012 |

I have no idea why I named my dog Brandy. I did always like the song, "Brandy You're a Fine Girl"...

Submitted by Renae | January 12 2012 |

Bebe is named for Sandra Bullock's character (nickname) in The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. :)

Submitted by Anonymous | January 12 2012 |

Our dogs are Sweet Pea, Django and Malcolm, but we're about to have a (human) baby and he or she will have a name that people will probably think is a dog name!

Submitted by MrsHank | January 12 2012 |

Our two Golden Retrievers are litter mates, brother and sister. The male is huge, the female smaller and very spirited. They are known as Mr. Bear and Miss Emily, or Bear and Emmie to those who are on a first name basis :-)

Submitted by Anonymous | January 12 2012 |

At the time we got our puppy we had 2 cats, so we named her Josie, for Josie and the pussycats.

Submitted by Julie | January 12 2012 |

My dog's name is Daisy... I'd never met anyone named Daisy until I got my dog about a year ago... and now I know two Daisy's! Which is funny because I tried to pick a name that I didn't consider a "people" name, for fear of offending anyone when I told them they had the same name as my dog. Clearly that did not work out!

Submitted by Sara | January 12 2012 |

Most of my pets have or had people names, some popular with people, some not. We've had Nelson, Lucy, Mazel ( I know it a person's name...I found it in the phone book...) We have Jessie, Bea, Fergus, Eula, Gary and Ivy. We also have a Ripley and a Zippy but there are not a lot of people named Zippy...

Submitted by Susie K | January 12 2012 |

Our first dogs names were crazy: stashil bonski and gisella marie! They were two of the best Pembroke Welsh Corgis!! Now we have conformed to the norm with: Bentley James, Barkley adam and Bella LaRue. They are also awesome Pembroke Welsh Corgis!!

Submitted by Beth | January 12 2012 |

Growing up, 4 sisters, our dog got the name a brother would have gotten - Larry - and was referred to as our brothers!

Submitted by Terrierman | January 13 2012 |

Human names relatively new? regular human names have dominated, All Working Terrier breeds since the beginning of recorded history. There are other breeds as well, primarily the ones going back to the UK that have always used "regular" names.

Perhaps the Show world's rediscovery of regular names is wonderful trend towards considering our dogs members of the family, because Worker Breed owners have never forgot. ;)

Submitted by Anonymous | January 13 2012 |

I have always given my dogs human names. My first dog was named Shanna, Next was Maggie May, And this one is Kelly Anne.

Submitted by Anonymous | January 17 2012 |

My shelter dog came with the name Wesley. Now he is Wesley Bob Joe, or, when he is being posh, Wesley Robert Joseph Smedley-Smythe, the Earl of Poopstain.

Submitted by Anonymous | February 13 2012 |

I have always named my dogs using 'human' names. My dogs are named Hugo, Xander, Mégan and Ryno. I named them all with the exception of Megan. She came with that name as a 7 yr old and I like that it had a french accent in the spelling.

Submitted by LaurenN | February 13 2012 |

We've had a good mix of people-names and pet-names in my house: Panda, Frosty, Glitter, Tyger, Jynx, Neiko, Riley, Leilah and Link.

Submitted by Nina L. | February 13 2012 |

My rescued dogs are Sammy (to replace his original name, Scruffy) and my flower girl,Poppy, which is a popular name for people in England but here, not so much. My cats are Raven (which is picking up popularity with humans) and Chaim-Henry, who was in rescue for the first 6 months of his life and he needed some life and spirit to get past his captive past (Chaim means life in Hebrew).
What was funny was when looking for a new groomer I called one person who works at home. She told me she had a very friendly dog named Nina (my name!) Still not sure how I feel about that, but I bet she is a great dog. :-)

Submitted by Sherwin Chen | February 28 2012 |

We started naming our dogs with human names because we felt a closer connection to them than with people. Some names for dogs are so common that we begun associating them with dogs more than people. My own favourite names are Spike, Spot and Chucky.

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