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Now, there are some people who think it isn’t important what you call your dog. I totally disagree with that. Your puppy will carry his name for the rest of his life, and you want to make sure that you get it right. You’re going to use the name when you introduce your dog to people, and often, a name will affect the way that people perceive your dog. Just as an example, if you name your dog “Crusher,” do you really think anyone is going to want to approach him?
When I first started researching this topic, I was shocked at how many people think it’s funny to name their dog A**hole or S***head. Why would anyone do that? Dogs are supposed to be loved and cherished, and yet these are actually fairly common names. It’s not funny. It’s demeaning. So is naming your dog Puddles. And most of us have heard the joke about the dog named Sex. If you haven’t, just Google it.
You may have noticed, when reading my blogs, that I do not begin sentences with things like “If Rover won’t come when called…” or “Make sure Fido doesn’t….” These are names that should be forever consigned to the dustbin of canine history. I mean, how lazy can people be when picking out a name for their dog?
Other lazy choices include Blackie (or any other color variation), Spot, Wrinkles, Curly, or anything else that is purely descriptive of the dog’s appearance. How would you like it if your parent had named you Ginger, Chubby, Mr. Big Ears, or Tiny?
I’m also not overly fond of cutesy names like Cuddles, Snookums, and Baby, although maybe that’s just personal preference. At least those names aren’t disrespectful or thoughtless.
Now, having said my piece about awful dog names, let’s move on to giving your puppy the right name.
We all know people who say “I am going to get a puppy and call him Gabriel.” I always think, “You haven’t even found your puppy yet; how can you name him?”
I’m put in mind of one of my friends, Shelly, who has no dogs, but does have human children. When she was planning for her first child, she had decided well in advance that if it was a boy, it would be named Jason. A girl would be Karen. As it ended up, Shelly had a girl. She told me afterward, “I took one look at her when they handed her to me, and I knew she wasn’t Karen – she was Jody.”
A lot of the time, it works out the same way with dogs. Neila, my friend with the Rottweilers, told me about a time when she had arranged to buy a puppy, and she was thinking Kevin would be a great name. Well, “Kevin” ended up being (I kid you not) Sponagle. Sometimes you just have to meet them to be sure of the name.
I think the point I am trying to make here is, don’t be in a big hurry to name your puppy. Get to know him. See what his energy level is like, what he likes to do, and the sort of personality he has. The right name will come to you, and it might not be the one that you were originally considering.
There are all kinds of sources that will give you great ideas for puppy names. One thing you could do is consider the origin of the breed, and the meaning of the name. A male German Shepherd, for instance, might very appropriately be named Gunther (warrior), and a female could be Lindie (tender beauty) or Ada (noble and serene). A female English Mastiff might be Elda (old and wise protector) or Esme (emerald), and a male could be Reese (powerful). You get the idea.
Fictional characters are also good sources for dog names. If you are a Jane Austen fan, for instance, you could name your dog Darcy, assuming it fits his personality. I once knew a huge Newfoundland dog named Dracula (he wasn’t a biter, though!).
You could also look to famous people for names. You could pick the name of a powerful ruler, a musician, a poet, an actor, or anyone else you admire.
If you want to stand out, you will probably want to avoid the most common dog names. I checked out many, many lists, and these names are on just about all of them. For males, the most common names are Bailey, Buddy, Charlie, Jake and Max. For females, they are Bella, Daisy, Lucy, Maggie and Molly. If you choose one of these names, it could cause a lot of confusion at the dog park!
Ideally, you should choose a name that doesn’t have a lot of syllables – this is important if you need to get your dog’s attention quickly. Most experts think that two-syllable names are best. Of course you could always go with a longer “formal” name and shorten it a bit. Neila’sSponagle, for instance, quickly became “Sponny.”
Single-syllable names are less desirable, because most dog commands are just one word – “Sit,” “Stay,” “Come,” “Heel” and so on. If your dog’s name contains only one syllable, it can be difficult for him to distinguish his name from the command.
Another thing to keep in mind when choosing a name for your new puppy is that it shouldn’t sound too much like the names of friends or family members. If your husband’s name is Steven, for instance, Heaven is not a good name for your dog. It can be confusing for all concerned.
Take your time naming your puppy. You and he will both have to live with the name for a long time, so consider things like breed, temperament, and personality when deciding on the name. You’ll know when you get it right, and there’s no rush.