Please Let Me Name Your Dog

I borrowed the Big Book of Baby Names from my junior high library several times, but not because I was spending my time in such a way that would result in a teenage pregnancy. Far from it. I obsessed over names; I wrote lists with as many names as I could think of (or create) for each letter of the alphabet, and I perused the book of names for hours. So I connected when I read Nina Badzin’s post Please Let Me Name Your Baby, and in a similar fashion, I would like to offer my naming services for canines.

Stanley (picture source)

Stanley

So what does the Big Book of Baby Names have to do with dog names? Well, I like to give dogs people names–no Snowball or Spot for me.

My husband and I have been talking about dog names for years–back in our no-dog early twenties we daydreamed about what we would name our future dog(s). Now we toss around names just for fun: What do you think of a bloodhound named Stanley? Ooh, how about a mastiff named Bernice?

And it is fun. You have a lot more license when considering dog names than you do with kid names. You don’t really have to worry about how it works with your last name–the only time you’ll hear that is at the vet. Nor do you have to worry about the other dogs making fun of your dog’s name. The one thing you do have to consider with a dog that you don’t with a child, or at least I think so, is the dog’s breed.

Below I have listed types of dog names with examples. I also provided pictures in which I “named” the subjects. I used Laura Wattenberg’s book The Baby Name Wizard as a reference but also just my own opinions about the “feel” of a name and how it fits with a certain breed, look, or type of dog. (I’m also not trying to discriminate against mixed breeds; the naming process is more about the look of a dog than its particular breed.) After reading these names, if you’d like to give me the honor of naming your dog, just holler!

My absolute favorite dog names are blue-hair human names. I think out-of-fashion people names gain a new spark when given to a dog. Wattenberg calls these names “Porch-Sitters.”

1. The Blue Hairs/Porch Sitters: Harriet, Edna, Mildred, Irma, Ruth, Ethel, Edith, Winifred, Beulah, Edwina, and Velma and Milton, Edgar, Herbert, Norbert, Grover, Abner, Doyle, Lester, Mortimer, and Melvin.

Harriet

Our boxer’s name*, of course, sits squarely on this porch: Gertrude. So ugly for a human (sorry, human Gertrudes of the world), but so splendid when applied, especially with the nickname Gertie, to a wrinkly, short-nosed, spunky boxer! I think the porch-sitting names work best when applied to smush-faced dogs, bully breeds and hounds–there’s just something about that so-ugly-they’re-adorable-look that begs for a fusty name–but they could definitely work for other breeds as well (a lab named Doyle, perhaps).

A classic Gertie

Norbert

I also like ironic names for dogs. I’m not talking about a Great Dane named Tiny, but rather grandiose, butch, or overly sophisticated names for little dogs, and fanciful or flowery names for huge or brutish-looking dogs.

2. Ironic little dog names: Blanche, Veronica, Tallulah, Delilah, Francesca, Magnus, Igor, and Judd.

Blanche or Igor--picture source

3. Ironic brute dog names: Violette, Winifred, Adeline, Penelope, Matilda, Wallace, Sylvester, Solomon, Oliver, Philip, and Peter.

Claribel or Wilhelmina--picture source

4. Match sight with sound: Or you could do just the opposite and choose a name for your dog with a sound that just fits how they look: a whippet named Winnie, a teacup chihuahua named Pip, a Rottweiler named Bruno, or an elkhound named Gregor.

Winnie sounds slight but sweet

5. Bright, cheerful, and cute: Poppy, Trixie, Polly, Archie, Milo, and Zeke.

Zeke

6. Foreign names that match the breed origin: You could choose a name that fits your breed’s ethnicity. Consider a Papillon named Delphine or Claude; an Irish setter named Gwendolyn or Hamish; an Italian greyhound named Alessandra or Salvatore.

Brigitte/Gaston

What names do you like for dogs? What do you think about my categories and/or the names I chose for the above dogs?

*We didn’t name Duke because he was already six when we got him, and we thought he had been through enough changes. However, if his name had been Killer, or some other heinous name, we would’ve changed it. If I had named him, I probably would have chosen something like Alfred–Alfie for short–or maybe Bernard or…so many names, so little time!

Related Post: DON’T Let Me Name Your Dog

We could always call him Duke Alfred.

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25 thoughts on “Please Let Me Name Your Dog

  1. You made me smile thinking about all of the wonderful possibilities for dog names. I love naming, too. I do it for the characters in my novels and short stories (some of whom are dogs). I think your naming suggestions apply there, too, so I’m going to keep this post handy. :)
    Our Lola was a puppy when we got her but they had already named her at the shelter and we decided the name fit, so we kept it. Whatever Lola wants…

    • …Lola gets!

      I think the word “possibilities” is perfect for this process–they’re endless and that’s where the fun lies!

      Nina Badzin, who wrote the original Please Let Me Name Your Baby Post and is a writer, writes a little bit about choosing names for characters, as do many of her writer commenters. It seems like that could be the lighthearted, fun break in the midst of the arduous writing process. It kind of makes me want to write fiction just for the naming opportunities, but I’m no fiction writer (since it IS a lot more than just coming up with names:)). As I have been perusing the name books lately, I have been paying attention to human names too. I think the name Ellery is great for a female teenage character (or really in age).

      Ok, see, I can still go on and on about names!

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  2. Oh…the doggie naming process. So much fun and so many names to choose from. My husband likes picking names of famous Generals but we’ve always had large dogs.
    Bubba’s name came about because we had to call him something while we waited for someone to claim him. Alas, when we realized he had been abandoned and at that point fallen in love with him the name had stuck.
    Your pictures and names are so adorable. Gertie has the classic boxer look.

    • Yes, I think Shary nailed it when she talked about all the possibilities of naming–that’s partly where the fun lies. Generals are a great source for names. And I didn’t even go into literary names. So many names, so little time. :)

      I can see how Bubba came about. I think that’s one of the MANY nicknames that I have called both Gertie and Duke, so if you needed a “placeholder” for a little while, it makes sense. I’m going to do a post soon on doggie nicknames–we dog lovers can’t seem to stick to one name for our dogs.

  3. This is such a fun post. I love the old-fashioned names for dogs (I think Gertie’s name is very fitting for her); I also love the ironic names for brute dogs, because in my experience the big or even giant breeds always seem to have gentle personalities. I only had one chance to name a dog – the others were older dogs in shelters that were like Duke and already knew their name, and I also liked their names (Chester, a black lab; Webster, a hound mix; and Inge, a greyhound). My dog Daisy was a stray and only 10 months old when she ended up in a shelter. They had given her the name Daisy so she only had the name for a few days when I met her (and decided I had to adopt her). They told me I could change her name, but the funny thing is that Daisy just happens to be my favorite name for a female dog, so we kept it.

  4. I enjoyed all your name picks for the different dogs. Bongo had his name already when we adopted him. When I’ve had the chance to name an animal I’ve usually just waited until the right name came to me. I’ve had some pets with people names. Cats named Amy and Holly and a dog named Andre.

  5. I love this; #1 is awesome and I love Violette in #3 as well. Harley (8 lb Mini Schnauzer) is named for his sleek body line and because we got him from a huge Harley-Davidson family from Texas. Scarlett (50 lb Vizsla/Pit) is named after her red nose and because when we rescued her, she had open wounds/scars all over her body. I love names, especially people-dog names :)

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  6. Well, you have really given this thought…for a long time, apparently! You have a great sense of humor. We had a wired-hair fox terrier we named Winston B. Louie. And that’s what we called him! My husband had known someone by that name and when he threw that name out we all embraced it. It fit this pompous dog! So fun, Andrea! Debra

    • Yeah, I clearly have some obsession with names. I guess I’d describe it as a sporadic hobby between my husband and I, which is fun! I love the name Winston for a dog. And I’d love to know what the human Winston B. Louis would have thought of having this doggie namesake. :) I would consider it the highest honor!

  7. LOL love it! My boyfriend and I always discuss what our future great dane will be. I made him read this with me and we both really enjoyed it and got a good laugh (and a few great ideas)! This was a really fun article, thanks!! :)

  8. I love it!!! Such a great post and I love your categories of how to name the pups. So are people contacting you at all for help naming? I DID have the happen! I couldn’t believe it.

    • Thanks for checking it out, Nina! And thanks for the inspiration, of course! I have not had any requests for my dog-naming expertise, and I think it’s a barking shame. :) Seriously, though, I would consider it an honor. That’s crazy that people contacted you for naming help. I do think I remember seeing some comments that at least suggested they wanted your help in that fashion. How did it go?!

  9. I always wanted to name a good mutt “Dr. Albert Brockman.”
    Or I like to add “Esquire” to the end of dog names.
    Right now we have a pit bull named Lillian (Lily for short) and a Heinz 57 called Vito Tito Bandito, or “The Bandit” for short.
    Thanks for liking my cartoon. :) I like your blog.

    • Ha, I think Dr. Albert Brockman would be great! I love Albert as a dog name, and the formality of the Dr. and the last name are hilarious. I have enjoyed checking out your cartoons of Lily and Bandit. I would love to be able to capture my dogs’ personalities in drawings as well as you do.

  10. We now have a gorgeous blue french bulldog puppy, 8 wks old. We are totally stuck with a name for her. Already she has such a character. Please help!!

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