Naming your puppy

By Gemma Hopkins on 25 January 2017

Naming your puppy is right up there with the best pet owner moments: bringing the dog home for the first time, the first time the dog rests his head on your knees or falls asleep in your lap. The difference is, a name lasts forever. It’s the one thing you want to get absolutely right.

The conventional approach

When you first set eyes on your handsome hound his name might come to you in an instant: He looks like a Bernard. Your princess pooch looks like a Coco. But it’s fair to say most dog owners will toss around a lot of names before they settle on the perfect one.

One of the most common reasons for choosing a particular name is the appearance or personality of the dog itself. A Dalmatian could be named Dotty or a Shih Tzu, Fluffy. Goldie is a popular name for a labrador or retriever; a black dog – especially if it’s fast – could end up a Jet. This kind of name will always be a hit since your dog is instantly recognisable.

Those who get to know the dog a little better could see a match with personality: Patience, Boss or Mischief. Some dogs wear a title well, like Lady or Colonel. We already know you don’t have to spend a lot of time with a dog to know what name might be a good fit.

Human names for dogs

Since most dogs are a part of the family, it’s no surprise we often name them as we would name ourselves. An affectionate nickname brings a dog into the fold, like Lola (short for Dolores) or Buddy. The name might be dainty, like Daisy or Poppy, as we seek to protect our pup. Or the name of our dog can represent our idols, like Elton and Jagger, or hail back to the family tree: perhaps Sidney, Rosie or Finley. Other owners prefer to make it more personal.

Me and my dog

Naming our dog can sometimes be an expression of who we are as an owner. Without doubt, there is often a story behind a name that is deeply personal:

Wilbur: Favourite character from a popular book (Charlotte’s Web) or The Dude from a cult film (The Big Lebowski). Willow or Murphy (which means ‘of the sea): Reflections from your favourite park or a trip to the shore. Bentley could represent a love for old cars, or Bruno a sports fan.

When you name your dog, the options are genuinely limitless.

A few simple rules

When you name your dog it’s important to choose the one you’re happy to say a lot of times, over and over, and out in public too. For your dog:

A short name of one or two syllables is easiest for them to recognise and respond to. Hard consonants are clearer eg. “S” for Sunny instead of “Sh” for Shimmer. To avoid confusion it’s also helpful to avoid names like Kit that sound like “Sit” or Bo as it can sound like “No”.

For many dog owners, it’s as simple as getting to know their dog to see which name fits.



Gemma holds an RCVS Certificate in Veterinary Cardiology and continues to work part time in practice to remain up to date and continue her interest in cardiology.

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Naming your puppy

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25 January 2017

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