Picking the Right Dog Name

Choosing a name for your dog can be fun, but it can also be difficult. Here are some helpful tips to ensure that you get your dog’s name right.

Puppy lying in basket looking toward foreground

Keep your dog’s name simple and short to avoid confusion when you call him.

Choosing a dog's name is an important decision in the life of your pet, and just one of the many decisions you have to make. The name you choose for your puppy will be his for the rest of his life, for better or for worse. Thus, it’s essential that you choose a moniker that you like. Choosing a dog name, though, isn’t just about coming up with something catchy. There are a lot of factors that go into a dog’s name that you may be overlooking. Here are some factors you should take into account when deciding on a name for your canine companion:

  • Keep it Short: Though you may like a long, grand-sounding name, your dog won’t be able to understand something with so many syllables. It’s important to keep your dog’s name simple and short, so he will hear it without getting confused in any manner. One way you can compromise between the long name you want and the short name you need is to call your dog a nickname based on a longer proper name. For example, your dog’s full name can be “Winston Churchill” as long as you call him by “Winnie.”
  • Sharp Sounds: Your dog obviously does not have the same ear for human language as you do, so you will need a name that is very easy to distinguish. For dogs, harder sounds like k’s and t’s are easier to hear than softer sounds like f’s or s’s.
  • Avoid Commands: Aside from his name, the other important words your dog will need to learn will be his commands. It’s important that he is able to understand the commands that you will be giving him during dog training. For this reason, it’s wise to avoid naming your dog something that sounds similar to any of his prospective command words. Names that sound like “sit,” “stay,” or “heel” will make dog training very confusing and difficult.
  • Don’t Double Up: This may seem obvious, but don’t give your dog a name that is already someone else’s in the household. This causes confusion among pets and humans.
  • No Need to Explain: If you get tired of answering the question, “Is it a he or a she?” you can give your dog a gender-specific name. Lots of human names are also popular dog names and can help you avoid undue explanation. Popular dog names for males are Max, Jake, or Rocky, while popular female dog names are Molly, Maggy, or Sadie.
  • Good in Public: Make sure to give your dog a name that you would feel comfortable calling in public. Names that are too silly or strange or inappropriate are not good dog names, especially when you’re calling for your pet in front of the whole neighborhood.