Your Guide to Choosing the Perfect Dog Name

Your Guide to Choosing the Perfect Dog Name

Choosing a name has always been one of my favorite parts of welcoming a new dog into the home. The name you pick is often a reflection of your own personality, as well as one of the first connections you’ll make with your pet. It ties them to you, and you to them.

I think a lot of people feel weird renaming a dog they've adopted that came with a name. But I actually think in most cases, choosing a new name is a great first step to bonding with your dog. And because dog associate their names with the way that name is most commonly used, it's especially good to rename a dog that had a rough past or has developed behavioral issues. 

The best way to teach a dog its name (whether this is its first or fifth) is to avoid using it with negatives. This is especially important in the beginning of your relationship, but even later on I usually recommend avoiding overusing their name in conjunction with corrections. 

This is by no means a list of the best dog names, or the “top 100 dog names”. But even if you don’t find the perfect name here, I hope I can help give you some new ideas on how to discover your dog's name. 


Tips for Choosing Dog Names

  • Choose single or double syllable names. Or, pick a longer name that has a nice shortened version, since you’re almost definitely going to be shortening it.
  • Say the name out-loud. A LOT. Some names look awesome on paper, but they may not sound as great spoken. Especially after a couple hundred times. Or they may sound too similar to another more common name, and you’ll be correcting every single person who comes up to you wanting to know your adorable puppy’s name.
  • Be careful that you’re not picking a name that may get confused as a common command, like “no”.
  • Names that end in a long vowel sound (Cody) or a short “a” (Bella) tend to make the best dog names.


And now on to the lists!!


The “Popular” Dog Names

Not everyone needs to choose obscure, random, one-of-a-kind names for their dogs (the same goes for kids- amIright??). If you want to make these a little more unique, try changing up the spelling – just don’t go too overboard. “Baylie” is cute, but “Beighlee” is a little silly.

Pros: These names are tried-and-true; they roll off the tongue nicely as you’re screaming and chasing your escape artist puppy down the street.

Cons: You may be more likely to get a handful of “Roxy's” that come when you call at the dog park.

 Unisex Female Male
  • Bailey
  • Rocky
  • Cody
  • Frankie
  • Riley
  • Sammy
  • Casey
  • Dakota
  • Harley
  • Kona
  • Marley
  • Ziggy
  • Bear
  • Chase
  • Coco
  • Bella
  • Lucy
  • Molly
  • Abby
  • Daisy
  • Roxy
  • Maggie
  • Zoe
  • Sophie
  • Sadie
  • Chloe
  • Lola
  • Ginger
  • Annie
  • Sasha
  • Max
  • Murphy
  • Charlie
  • Buddy
  • Jake
  • Jack
  • Toby
  • Oscar
  • Leo
  • Oliver
  • Ace
  • Cooper
  • Tucker
  • Luke
  • Teddy

Old School Dog Names

With the trends towards more “unique” names, this list will probably hit home as including “typical” dog names.

 Unisex Female Male
  • Scruffy
  • Lucky
  • Freckles
  • Sparky
  • Spot
  • Shadow
  • Patches
  • Scout
  • Fluffy
  • Fifi
  • Princess
  • Angel
  • Lady
  • Lassie
  • Honey
  • Sugar
  • Cricket
  • Lulu
  • Duke
  • Bones
  • Fido
  • Bubba
  • Blue
  • Brutus
  • Boomer
  • Rex
  • Champ
  • Spike

People Names

A lot of dog names are also common human names. But occasionally you come across names that are so “human” that they almost seem out of place on a dog. And that makes them even better.

Pro: These names are perfect for people with an ironic sense of humor, and you’re very likely to get a laugh out of people when you tell them.

Cons: With how common it is for people to way over-humanize their pets these days, picking a human name may not be the best choice for someone who has a history of treating their pets too much like people.

  • Agatha
  • Samantha
  • Jenna
  • Brittany
  • Sharon
  • Katie
  • Linda
  • Jessica
  • Mabel
  • Rachel
  • Donna
  • Gail
  • Dolores
  • Jenny
  • Karen
  • Kevin
  • Seymour
  • Walter
  • Doug
  • Winston
  • James
  • Fred
  • Steve (or even better, Steven)
  • Jeff
  • Gary
  • Carl
  • Jeremy
  • Roger
  • Jim
  • Cliff

Dog Names for The Outdoor Lover

  • Timber
  • Aspen
  • Birch
  • Montana
  • Jackson
  • Denali
  • Moose
  • Hunter
  • Oak
  • Autumn
  • Briar
  • Cedar
  • Clover
  • Copper
  • Dawn
  • Dusty
  • Fern
  • Forest
  • Ivy
  • Lark
  • Sparrow
  • North
  • Rain
  • Ridge
  • Sky
  • Peak
  • Sage
  • Sprout
  • Thunder
  • Denver
  • Alder
  • Archer
  • Fitz (and Roy)
  • Pike
  • Zion
  • Shasta

Food and Drink Related Dog Names

These names are cute and fun, but may give people too much insight into your indulgences.

  • Olive
  • Brownie
  • Cheerio
  • Barley
  • Mango
  • Chocolate
  • Peanut
  • Chardonnay
  • Fig
  • Kiwi
  • Wasabi
  • Sushi
  • Fudge
  • Porter

Pop Culture Names for Dogs

Some of these names may also have other meanings or historical references, but have recently become more popular due to movies and TV shows. This is really just a brief list, as there are endless possibilities based on songs, books, movies, and TV shows.

  • Rocket
  • Groot
  • Drax
  • Yondu
  • Hulk
  • Khaleesi
  • Drogo
  • Ghost
  • Snow
  • Khal
  • Nymeria
  • Sansa
  • Arya
  • Stark
  • Tyrion
  • Winter
  • Loki
  • Thor
  • Ahsoka
  • Vader
  • Obi
  • Jyn
  • Kylo
  • Rey
  • Artoo
  • Chewie
  • Boba
  • Yoda
  • Jedi
  • Astro
  • Storm
  • Kazak
  • Frodo
  • Gimli
  • Pippin
  • Pepper
  • Falcor
  • Atreyu
  • Kirk
  • Spock
  • Sheldon
  • Baxter
  • Brick
  • Stella
  • Brigitte
  • Maggie
  • Glenn
  • Negan
  • Wishbone
  • Bouton
  • Bran
  • Luna
  • Draco
  • George
  • Ragnar
  • Rollo
  • Siggy
  • Bjorn
  • Floki
  • Dolores
  • Maeve
  • Clementine
  • Logan
  • Bolt
  • Balto
  • Juno
  • Flash
  • Arrow
  • Grey
  • Brian
  • Ajax
  • Wade

Getting Creative

If you’re looking for really obscure pet names, there’s a ton of places you can get inspiration from. Maybe you have a favorite band, and your dog’s tail is constantly whacking against things - so you name him after the drummer.

Much of my family originally came from Scandinavian countries, and I’ve always been interested in Viking era lore and history. So I’ve always looked at words and names from those areas. My older dog’s name is “Signey” (a variation of Signe or Signy). I had to beg, plead, and convince my family to let me have a puppy, which is why the meaning of her name - “new victory” - really appealed to me.

My second dog’s name is Rumo, which is a dog/deer character from a great fictional novel by German writer Walter Moers. The book, Rumo and His Miraculous Adventures, has remained in my top 5 favorite books for many years. When I adopted Rumo from his breeder, he came with the name “Kenzo”. While I find Japanese culture fascinating, I really don’t know that much about it. And since he came to me with behavioral issues, I also felt it was better to leave as much of those former associations he had in the past. I didn’t know right away what I wanted to name him, but after I watched him bound around like a goofy little fawn the first week I had him, he just seemed to fit the name perfectly. Rumo is also somewhat… socially inept… very much like his namesake.


I absolutely love Behind the Name for researching unique pet names. You can search by country of origin, gender, as well as things like mythology and history.


What are your favorite dog names? Do you have a different method of picking names for your pets?

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