What Not to Name Your Dog

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You can call me superstitious or call me crazy, but I stand firm in my belief that certain dog names should be completely avoided. Yes your new pup may be just as sweet as sugar, but call her “Sugar” and you can just about be guaranteed that she will develop sugar diabetes later in life.  Thinking of calling your dog “Lucky”?  Really? Are you kidding me?!  Every “Lucky” I’ve ever known was lucky enough to get kicked by a horse, run over by a truck, lose an eye in a dog fight, fall off a cliff, or develop every serious disease known to dog-kind. 

If you feel compelled to name your new dog after the dog you just lost, consider some serious self-introspection. When I meet Bart II, Bart III, or Bart IV (yes, I’ve met every single one of these Barts), I sense that my client never fully embraced the grieving process.

I’m a believer in freedom of speech, but name your adorable new pup “Satan”, “Killer”, or “Hitler” (yes, I’ve encountered all three) and don’t count on developing a warm and fuzzy relationship with your veterinarian.

And finally, if you happen to get two pups at the same time (generally not a good idea, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog), please avoid any of this “Bonnie and Clyde”, “Mickey and Minnie” or “Pinot and Noir” business.  Inevitably, one of your beloveds will precede the other in death and the matching name thing is only going to make the loss feel all the more painful.  It’s awfully hard for a “Batman” to stand on his own two feet (make that four feet) when “Robin” is no longer part of the dynamic duo.

Google “dog names” and you’ll come up with almost five million hits. C’mon now, no excuses!

What is your dog’s name and have you been pleased with your choice?

Now, here’s wishing you and your four-legged best friend abundant good health!

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, 2009 Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, 2009 Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life

Website: http://www.speakingforspot.com
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook    

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller.

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78 Responses to “What Not to Name Your Dog”

  1. debbie says:

    We have a very handsome “rescue” dog named Chance. He’s a 90lb. pure white colored lab/great pyranese mix. While signing his adoption papers we simply had to change the name the shelter had given him…Snowball! No way did this big gentle giant resemble a snowball. So our son suggested “Chance”. “After all”, he said, “We’re giving him a second “Chance.” Perfect don’t you think?

  2. Donna says:

    I worked in the veterinary business for several years and always thought the way that you do – a dog named Bear will not always be the nicest dog, nor will a cat named Satan. I also believe that if you give them a little time an animal will let you know its name if you are open to the suggestion. Otherwise, I would never have chosen the name Henry for a parrot or a cat that started out as Diana became LadyBug.

    Three of the 4 dogs I have now came to me already named. Roxie was about 12 weeks old when I got her and the breeder had called her that because she acted as though she had rocks in her head. JoJo’s formal name is Baldassare but his call name is JoJo (or Jo). He came to us at age 2. When I started doing rescue work Charlie was my first foster dog. He never made it to another home. The names did not change even though I have family members named Joe and Charlie. My latest addition is Linguini. He’s from the breeder’s “L” litter and she uses Italian names and I thought that was perfect. His registered name is Dolce di Giorno (sweet of the day) but he’s still Linguini to me! These are all Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. My very first Cavalier was from a “W” litter and I named her Wallis (for Wallis Simpson). The next one was a rescue we called Tibby because the vaccination record we got with her said Name – TBA and it stuck.

    I could go on and on as I’ve had birds, cats (7 at one time), helped my daughter with her dogs’ names, and rehabilitated wildlife, naming most of the raccoons we got. But I will stop here.

    I love the stories of how some of these critters got their names.

  3. Melissa says:

    I confess: I’ve committed at least two of the sins of dog naming. My childhood companion was Lucky the dachsund, who was run over on the first night of Chanukah. In high school and through college, my sister and I loved two toy poodles named Honey and Cher, named for a favorite singing duo (that sure dates me!). My son was far more sane and deliberate in his choice: he named our Australian Shepherd “Austen,” for several reasons that were carefully explained: his nickname can be Aussie, and he IS an Aussie; it’s spelled with an “e” instead of an “i” because we don’t want it confused with a place in Texas which might be associated with then President Bush. And besides, Mom loves Jane Austen (he’s promised me the next dog will be named “Darcy”).

  4. Amanda says:

    My doggies names I love and am very proud of! Starting with the oldest which was my dad’s dog and has outlived my dog. His name is Rufus, his nickname is Barry Bonds due to his usage of steriods for a skin disorder. Originally his name was Jerry Only, named after a member of the band The Misfits. Once he became dad’s that name had to go because his former best friend’s name was Jerry. So now we have Rufus and to look at this dog you would think his name should be Eeor.

    *NOTE: all our dogs have nicknames and sometimes these nicknames get used more than their real names*

    Next we have JFK’s Rose Kennedy (a.k.a Kennedy) she is MY first dog! She is a minpin and i got her before all the celebs came out with these dogcessories. That was my plan for her. To have a lil Jackie O’! What i have is a very very very loyal, loving, dog who has been with me through so much that she NEVER leaves my side. Yet, she has no problem sharing my side with our other dogs…just the limelight. Nicknames; Kenbug, Kennly
    Then we have Lexe Ann Staley, she’s a mini dachshund and a rescue. I got her for my husband as a 6 mth wedding ann. gift. She was roughly the same age so we gave her birthday the same day as our wedding day. The name came with her so we just added on. My husband had never owned his own dog so i thought this would be a perfect gift! Lexe has her own song ” How can you deny me, I’m Lexe, I’m sexy” and that pretty much defines her.
    Another rescue is our pitbull Karu, which means black in hindu. His full name is Operation Hindu Freedom Karu. That came to us on our ride to get him. We were told he was a puppy and i’m sure he was…just a big puppy lol. He’s a sweet heart who is terrified of thunder, fireworks, gun shots and women yelling. I’m very happy to have rescued him. With him his name goes every which way. When going for rides he’s Karuzin’ or Karu and Karusiers, get the idea.
    Finally we have our newest Lil Rebel Mudflap and like Lexe she is a mini dacshsund. Her name fits her to a tee!!! TO A TEE!! Lil’ she is! Rebel, ugh, you should see her paths of destruction and the look she gives you is just daring you to say something lol. Mudflap, that’s all on my husband. lol!! Her nicknames is mudders, Mudflip (a lady in Petsmart misunderstood me and kept calling her that so she got stuck with it), Flippers, Flap, Flappers, MF and our personal fave. mudflap you little shit, while repressing a laugh

  5. Tammy says:

    I have two Italian Greyhounds My male is named TJ and my female is named Jorja. both are named for a couple of my favorite actors. TJ Thyne from Bones and Jorja Fox from CSI

  6. Deborah Dean says:

    We named our two Cocker Spaniels Macy and Vicki. The blond, Macy is after the department store giant, and the black, Vicki, is for (who else?) Victoria’s Secret.

  7. Chris Bever says:

    We named our longhair Doxies littermates, DESI and LUCY. She is a beautiful redhead and he is a diluted cream, so the names really fit.
    Lucy is the boss and Desi is a laidback, handsome fellow. I don’t ever want to think of life without both my little dogs. They have only been apart once, when Lucy had to spend the night at the vet after her “operation”.
    Today is their birthday. Happy Birthday, DesiLu..Momma loves you.

  8. Diane says:

    We have three Jack Russels all adopted at different stages of life. Our first “Molly” came along and was lonely so we adopted “Ozzie”. Both were rescue dogs that were already named. We decided that three could live as easily as two so we adopted a baby boy. We were perplexed on what to name the new addition until one day it came to us……..Molly Hatchet, Ozzie Ozborne, and of course Iggy Pop! The three of them are now making beautiful music together! Woof Woof!

  9. Tricia Elliott says:

    I have the privledge of being owned by 3 dachsunds. Ladybug and Chili Dawg are red/sable longhaired dachsunds and Harley is a black/tan shorthaired dachsund. They are the loves of my life(along with my husband) and we can’ imagine our lives without them

  10. Mary says:

    My youngest (of 3) dogs, a chihuahua, was found at the dump when she was 6 to 8 weeks old. She weighed less than a pound, fit in one hand, and showed obvious behavioral signs of having been mistreated. We kept trying out different names and nothing stuck until somebody said Chloe. It wasn’t until a year or so later that someone told me that the name Chloe means “blossoming one”—In other words, I’ve got a “bloomin’ chihuahua”!!!….Now, a few years later, she is still a little crazy from her bad start in life, but she has blossomed–She is a beautiful, loveable member of the family. They say that one person’s trash is another persons treasure–but to this day it amazes me that someone would thow away such a wonderful little living creature. They could have easily found her a good home (even sold her). I’m just lucky that she was found and found her way to me.

  11. Mayte says:

    My Shitzu’s name is Kiwi, the name came to me before I even saw him in person, when I saw him online he was Jolly, which had nothing to do with him since he was born in October for some reason Kiwi came to mind. Everyone loves the name and it fits his personality (he is a little fruity) fresh,unique,exotic, but most of all very very sweet.

  12. Sonia says:

    I knew someone once who named her dog …\Dogma\!

  13. Sonia says:

    My Brother & his wife has a Shephard named Stephie (Stefie) she’s a beautiful dog and mostly well behaved but she becomes a big pain whenever FOOD is around even after she has already eaten & snacked! She can’t get enough and when she’s not drooling around the dinner table she is chewing on things to get our attention (mainly our shoes) or paper or whatever happens to be laying around! They did not raise her from a puppy she was a year or so when they “rescued” her from the previous family whose children abused her! We love her very much and she is very teachable we just all work alot and she needs more attenion than we can give her sometimes. But all in all she is well loved, healthy & happy!

  14. Veronica says:

    My Husky was named Skye, for her blue eyes. One cat is Floyd, named after Raymond Floyd the golfer. Another cat is Bitty, because she is tiny. And Bob the cat got her name because someone cut off her tail and made her a bob-tail cat. We just got a new dog and named him Sir Henrik von Zetterberg the Great, after our favorite Detroit Red Wing. We call him Zeek for short.

  15. Anne says:

    I have a fox terrier and his name is “Kafezinho” translating “coffee”, and here we are all very happy, including his own Kafezinho.
    For he has gone through several names when small (Bidu, Snoopy, Alfie, etc.), until he chooses this.

  16. Shai Steiner says:

    We named our mini schnauzer/ min-pin cross Lemon. After Liz Lemon on 30 rock, but also because she is cute – AND not exactly friendly to people she doesn’t know!
    Mosty I call her Cheeto – just lately…

  17. Lisa says:

    Barbara Woodhouse wrote that dogs like sounds with hard consonants, like b, t, p, and k, and that their names should be a happy sound for them, never connected with punishment. (ie, say “bad dog,” but not “Snoopy, bad dog!”) She wrote that they hate and S sound, perhaps due to snakes. I hadn’t read her book with my previous dogs, named Hans, Daisy, Sophie and Olivia, but when we got my now-senior citizen, I decided to give her theory a try. Well, Babette (lab mix) not only loves her name, but actually knew it and came when called in less than a day of our bringing her home! I’ve never seen anything like it. (Babette was PROBABLY between 6-8 weeks old when he got her from the shelter, but we aren’t sure because she’d been abandoned and abused.) She is old now, and we cherish whatever time we have left…I can tell you, though, all future dogs will be named in the Woodhouse fashion, that’s for sure.

  18. Heather says:

    Having previously adopted a kitten back in 2006 and kept his name – Tot, upon adopting my rescued pup (unknown mix – perhaps Chow with some sort of collie/shephard) I suggested re-naming her Tater (as opposed to the Midnight she came with) as a joke but it stuck and I now have a solid black set of Tater & Tot

  19. Nikki says:

    Bubba- HUGE black lab/St Bernard mix, Dogzilla- half pug/ half jack russell… and completely lives up to his name, and Lacey, a silvery dapple long haired doxie.

  20. Donna says:

    I named my Rottweiler/Austrian German Shepherd mix Esther Grace….she weighed all of maybe 2-3 pounds when we got her a little over three years ago. Her mama had weaned all 10 pups and would not let them suckle, so I took one the “runt” and gave her a home. She now weighs about 70 pounds and is the absolute joy and love of our home! Big, beautiful, smart, and has a vocabulary you would not believe!

  21. Erin says:

    I mostly let my animal companions “name” themselves. My cat is Robin Goodfellow, for his small size (all of seven pounds, so he’s one of the “wee folk”) and his delightful, Puckish sense of humor. The other cat, Felicity, came with our “new” house, so her name means happiness and good fortune. My dog Ceilidh is full of joie de vive, and her name is Irish Gaelic for a lively dance or a gathering of friends. The newest addition my husband named, after a dear friend, a gentle soul whose last name was Tucker. So far the pup shows promise of living up to his namesake.

  22. Melissa K says:

    I have to share this because I think it is so ridiculous. I work at an animal shelter. We just received a 10-month-old Rottweiler mix weighing in at 85 pounds. He was surrendered for being too large. His name? Biggie. Hello!!

  23. Leslie McGill says:

    I think it is also a good idea to try your new dog names with other words you will be saying before and after it. I often use the cue “Off” when my dogs jump up on me or the counter. I recently adopted a new dog who was named Jake from the pound, but because I have ason named Jacob I cleverly changed the new dog’s name to Jackson. Jack for short. Much to my suprise Jack jumps up on everything and my son is quick to yell at the top of his lungs “Jack off!”

  24. Miria Yarden, B.Sc.,MS,APDT says:

    My Bearded Collie was Sir Bedivere, my Samoyed/Golden was Ygraine (King Arthur’s mother), my Whippet is Niniane (Merlin’s girlfriend) – I guess I was in the Arthurian mode. My 11-lb Terrier-x was Mr. Smidgeon because of his size and my Grayhound-x was Circe because of her ability to charm. The cats are Casper the friendly ghost because of his ability to apppear silently (he is white) and Serendipity who appeared at a time when I wasn’t looking for her – she is black. They all live in perfect harmony. Lots of luck and lots of work but oh! so worth it!

  25. Polly Wrightman says:

    Bonnie, Fifi, and Rikki Tikki. All boxer dogs.

  26. Sherry Carpenter says:

    I never name my own dogs leaving that up to the breeder. Last litter–Cooper was the sire, Cagney was the dam and the all girl litter was Bacall, Hepburn, Monroe, Grable. Sigh!!
    This is not a name comment but an older dog concern. When I give my Springers Advantix I find they are depressed and lethargic. I separate them because sometimes the girls groom each other and I wonder how wise this spot on medication is to lick? I also wonder about dogs used in pet therapy after a dose and nursing home residents and/or children petting them? But, to return to 13 yr. old Cagney– she has successfully battled a number of health issues–pneumonia, congestive heart problems and arthritis and is doing well for all of that (she also has epilepsy) I do not want to give her AdvantiX as I doubt this has been tested on older dogs. In fact, I wonder how many medications are tested on older dogs.

  27. Belinda says:

    We lost 2 of our 3 beloved Dachshunds this year…Dutch Dieter,was 17 years old and our Harley Davidson was only 10 years old and had congestive heart failure. We have one 16 yr.old Dachshund left, named Heidi Mae. I was grieving horribly for “my boys”, when I decided to go to a pet expo where there were several rescue dogs needing new homes. I was almost through the whole expo without spoting a dog, when I turned the corner and there was BRODY! A beagle/pointer mix. It was instant love. When I brought him home to my husband, 2 adult children and 2 grandsons we all decided to keep the name he was given by the rescue group because it just seemed to fit him. BUT, he needed a middle name! After about a month of getting to know his personality, we decided on the middle name GUMP…as in Forest Gump…lol…so his name is Brody Gump and it’s more then fitting of his comical and somewhat clumsy personality! We couldn’t be more happier with the new member of our family!