Pet names can be as simple as “Fido” and “Mittens,” as obscure as “Professor Walter Beans, Sr., Esquire” and “Seven of K9,” as cute as “Isaac Mewton” and as wacky as “Yeti Spaghetti.” So how do you find potential pet names that are as unique as your pet? And how do you know you’re choosing the right one?
The possibilities are endless, actually. It all comes down to the type of name you want for your pet, your creativity and personal expression — and, of course, whether your pet is a dog or cat. More on that in a moment.
Naming strategies used by other pet owners
Pet names have all types of origins, and today’s pet owners take a variety of approaches to naming their canine and feline companions. In the past, pet owners tended to name their pets based on some physical or personality trait, like “Stripe,” “Midnight” or “Honey.” Today, however, dogs and cats are often considered family members, so more pets are being given human names or nicknames — names that might otherwise be given to children.
In a recent online survey, Pet Sitters International asked pet owners, “How did you choose your pets’ names?” The majority of pet owners, 47.1 percent, reported they chose a “human name,” with another 32.8 percent of owners giving monikers that described the pets’ personality. Yet another 23 percent of owners chose names based on their pets’ physical appearance, and 18.5 percent named their pets after famous people.
A pet’s breed heritage and behavior can also inspire names. While the appropriate moniker may jump right out, there’s no harm in observing your new pet’s behavior for a few days before choosing a name. (That’s how my cat came to be named “Tigger” — he bounced around like he was made of springs!)
When we asked Diamond Pet Foods Facebook fans how they chose their pets’ names, many dubbed their dogs and cats after their own interests. One pet owner named her dog “Miles” because he was to be her running partner. Beverages provided inspiration for several dogs’ names: “Bailey,” after Baileys Irish Cream, and “Brewster” for coffee and beer. And in the case of already-named pets at the time of adoption, some owners tweaked the pet’s given name slightly to suit their family or tastes.
Helpful tips for choosing your pet’s name
It turns out there’s both an art and a science to choosing the right name for your pet.
Both dogs and cats are more likely to respond to certain sounds, and veterinary behaviorists have found that pets rely more on what words “sound like” rather than “mean” when they’re trying to understand what you’re communicating to them. For example, veterinary behaviorists say “short” and “choppy” sounds get dogs to respond quickly, while “long, slow, soothing tones” don’t. That’s why several behaviorists and trainers suggest a name with a hard consonant sound, such as “c” or “k,” to help dogs distinguish their names from other sounds.
Cats, on the other hand, tend to respond better to high-pitched human voices and seem to prefer women’s voices to men’s. They also respond to names that contain the long “e,” or “ee,” sound.
Online resources are plentiful and helpful
If you’re struggling to find just the right moniker for your four-legged furry companion, don’t worry. Your favorite search engine can serve up lots of websites and blog articles that can help you select a special name. American Kennel Club, Bow Wow Meow, Nationwide Pet Insurance, Rover.com and Trupanion (pet insurance) are just a few of the websites that provide lists of popular pet names and even some of the wackiest ones. Pet Place offers 1,200 names (listed in alphabetical order!), while Pet Names boasts more than 20,000 names for you to choose from. There are even websites like New Pet Name that will randomly generate a pet name for you.
Choosing a name for your pet can be fun — or it can be stressful. The good news is that there really isn’t a right or wrong way to do it. So find one that you — and your pet — like!