How can I Choose Puppy Names?

Michael Pollick

Part of the joy of pet ownership is finding the perfect name, something that defines your puppy's unique personality. Puppy names can be funny, descriptive, historical or even fanciful. The important thing to keep in mind about puppy names is that they grow with your pet. There's a reason we don't meet many 90 year old women named Caitlin or Britney, so keep that in mind before little Fluffy reaches the 90 pound stage.

Puppy names can be created through combinations made from both parents' names.
Puppy names can be created through combinations made from both parents' names.

Some puppy names are based on physical characteristics. You might want to consider Cinnamon, Rusty or Ginger if your puppy has a reddish coat, for example. Spotted puppies might earn the name Freckles, Spot or Dot. Other puppy names based on physical appearance might be Droopy, Patches or Tiger.

Puppy names need to be able to grow with them.
Puppy names need to be able to grow with them.

The good thing about puppy names based on appearance is that they will almost always age well. Calling a ten year old dog Patches won't seem out of place. The difficulty lies in finding something distinctive about the puppy's appearance. Many breeds don't have variations in coloring or coat.

Another source for puppy names is personality traits. A puppy may display a bubbly personality, leading to names like Sparky, Bubbles or Sunshine. Another puppy might be very frenetic, which could inspire puppy names like Scampy, Scooter, Speedy or Hyperdog. Other personality traits could inspire appropriate puppy names like Curious George, Snooper, Princess or Queenie. Naming a puppy for a personality trait might help distinguish one from another when dealing with more than one pet.

Many dog owners choose puppy names based on famous human personalities or literary characters. A male and female puppy combination might be called Bonnie and Clyde, or Elvis and Priscilla. An especially curious puppy might become Sherlock Holmes. A gang of four puppies could easily become John, Paul, George and Ringo or Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Some owners may choose puppy names which leave room for later additions. The first puppy might be named Happy, while a second might be named Sneezy. As more puppies are added to the fold, the rest of the seven dwarfs' names can be added. Large puppy families can bear the names of famous television families, like the Brady Bunch or the Simpsons.

Whatever method you use to select puppy names, it might be best to allow the younger pet owners to assist in the process. Naming a puppy often enhances the bonding process between a young child and his or her new pet. With a sense of ownership may come a sense of responsibility as well. Finding that perfect name for the right pet should provide some quality family time as well.

Some people need to get to know their puppy's personality before naming it.
Some people need to get to know their puppy's personality before naming it.

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Discussion Comments


@rosequartz - I am no expert by any means but have lived my whole life with plenty of animals, mostly dogs.

Here's what I recommend when it comes to changing a dog's name. Let's say you adopt a puppy who's already a year and a half old or older, and her name is Natasha.

If you absolutely hate the name, Natasha, you could simply change it up a bit to Tasha or Sasha so it's still recognizable to your new pet. Changing Natasha to Sweetie or some other popular puppy name will not make sense to her.


What if you want to change your female puppy's name?

We got a puppy that was about 14 months old. Do we have to keep her name that she came with or can we change it? We don't like the original name but surely don't want to confuse her any more than necessary by being put in a whole new living situation with a strange name.


No matter what you name your puppy, nicknames will find their way into your daily life with your dog. For example, if you name your puppy Jasmine, you can be sure that as time goes by, she will also be known as "Jazz" or simply "J".

Shortening or changing a dog's name happens just from living with the dog. When we had a dog named Taffy, after a while he became Taffy-Toy-Puppy-Boy. In his case, his nickname was longer than his given name.

One little beauty we adopted (the cutest mutt ever), was given a long name because no one could agree on just one name. He is Teddy-Bear-T-Bone-Tiny-Terror-of-Love! What does the family call him? Bear!

You just never know how the name will morph into something else, but every name you call your pet is cool with them. They know what love sounds like, no matter what the words are!

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