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The Evolution of Dog Names – Most Popular Picks, Then and Now

Choosing a name for your furry new family member can be a challenging process. You don’t know what their personality is like yet, and want a name that you won’t tire of yelling out to the backyard for years. There’s pressure these days to choose an interesting moniker — now that children are called Apple, North West and Reign, the name game has ratcheted up.

A whopping 94% of people say that their dogs are part of their families. As family members, today’s dogs have special names that reflect how their family feels about them. Monikers are often borrowed from pop culture, food names, alcoholic beverages, other animals’ names (like Bear or Moose), technology, politics, designers, and sports.

Here are the top female dog names for 2015:

Bella, Lucy, Daisy, Molly, Lola, Sadie, Maggie, Sophie, Chloe, and Bailey.

These names are predominantly people names as we love to anthropomorphize our fur babies. Certainly people names seem more dignified than Spot or Rover. This trend may symbolize an escalation of dogs’ status in society.

The top male dog names of 2015:

Max, Charlie, Buddy, Cooper, Jack, Rocky, Toby, Duke, Bear, and Tucker.

Again, these names would work for human offspring. Psychology Today reports that 19.88% of dogs were given Human Names in 2013. The percentage rose to 21.17% in 2014. Last year dogs with human names rose to 49%–practically half.

Let’s take a look at the names people gave their pets throughout history.

Medieval dog names were much less human. Blawnche, Nosewise, Smylfeste, Bragge, Holdfast, Zaphphyro, Zalbot, Mopsus, and Mopsulus. We don’t meet too many dogs with those names these days!

Skipping ahead a few hundred years, in the 1700s George Washington called his hunting dogs Sweetlips, Scentwell, Vulcan, Drunkard, Taster, Tipler, Venus, Truelove, and Tipsy. That’s an interesting sample of dog names in the 18th century.

In the late 1800s names like Brownie, Laddie, Hobo, Trixie, Rags, Jaba, Bunty, Boogles, Teko, Dick, Rosie, Snap, Punch, Bébé and Pippy were all the rage. These names have been found on tombstones in old cemeteries.

From the 1960s to the 1980s, dog names became more gender-related. Riko, Ginny, Francois, Samantha, Daniel, Freckles, Snowy, Clover, Spaghetti, Champ, Happy, Rusty, and Taka. Despite not quite being human names, people began referring to their dogs by gender with monikers like Cha Cha Man, Candy Girl, Mr. Cat, and Dot-Z-Girl.

In 1985, New York Times columnist William Safire invited readers to share stories about how they named their dogs. He analyzed the 12,000-plus names and concluded that people liked to name their dogs after food (Cookie, Candy, Taffy, Peaches), personality (Rascal, Bandit, Crab), colors (Blackie, Amber, Midnight), and by profession (lawyers named dogs Shyster and Escrow; doctors liked the name Bones). People names began increasing in popularity. George, Daisy, and Charley were on the rise.

The history of name choices for dogs throughout the ages reflects our feelings for our pets. It seems that as we become more obsessed with spoiling them and treating them like babies many of their names become more like our own.


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The Evolution of Dog Names – Most Popular Picks, Then and Now


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