How Dogs' Names Have Changed Through History

By Anne Williams, April 2019

In 2019, Britain's most ​favored names for our ​four​-legged friends are names we​'d​ give to our children, like Charlie, Max, Bella and Luna. But go back hundreds of years and things are radically different. Why call your dog Max when you could go with Magastomo, meaning big mouth?

​We explore how names have changed over time and what this says about our relationship with them...


Dogs in the Middle Ages were less for petting and more practically used for hunting, herding or put on guard duty. Their names were often just a description of their physical attributes, but we can see that female lapdogs were doted on as much as they are now.


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​​​​​Male: ​Holdfast, Magastomo, Nosewise, Ringwood, Sturdy, Whitefoot

​Female: ​Bellina, Clenche, Dyamant, Purkoy, Terri, Venus

"I speak to my hounds as I would to a man... And they understand me and do as I wish better than any man of my household, but I do not think that any other man can make them do as I do."

​–14th century hunter Gaston, Comte de Foix​


Many of the breeds we know today can be traced to this time. King Charles I was so devoted to his​ ​span​iels, that a variety were named after him. Given names were less about a dog's occupation or appearance and more about their personalities.

​Male: ​Bangor ​, ​Blue​-man​, Chante​r​​, ​Drunkard​, ​Thunder​, ​Tickler​, ​Rapper​, ​Spanker 

​Female: ​Beauty​, ​Countess​, Daphne​, Darling, Duchess​, ​Jenny​, ​Juneau​, ​Moxie

"​B​ulldogs are adorable, with faces like toads that have been s​at on. My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind; so ​flew'd so sanded​; ​their heads are hung with ears that sweep away the morning due..."

–​William Shakespeare​


The Victorians practically invented the modern idea of the dog as the member of the family and this was reflected in the popular names. this was the age when animal rights began, with the founding of the RSPCA in 1824 and ​Bettersea Dogs Home in 1860.

​Male: ​Albert, Arnold, Cyril, Dante, Ernie, Ezra, Fletcher, Owen, Ruben, Wyatt

​Female:​ Ada, Arabelle, Ariella, Clara, Cordelia, Gertrude, ivy, Lucinda, Myrtle, Rosetta

​"​The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven not man's​"

Mark Twain​


​T​hese days, dogs are such a part of the family that we've started to give them names we consider for our children. Names like Alfie and ​Ollie ​appear both in popular dog names and most popular baby names.

​Male: ​Charlie, Max, Archie, buddy, Ollie, Milo, Oscar, Bailey, Alfie, Cooper

​Female: ​Bella, Luna, Ruby, Molly, Coco, Daisy, Lucy, Rosie, Lola, papi

​O​ver hundreds of years, dogs have evolved from working companions to family members.

But even now a new generation of our ​four-legged friends are finding new roles, supporting our emotional well-being.

To find out about how therapy dogs are helping people with mental health issues visit​​