The definitive Good Dog guide to naming your dog

Choosing the perfect name for your puppy can be an arduous experience — this guide will help you dig in to the process.

by Good Dog

Once you connect with a responsible source and bring your dog home, it's time to decide on a name for the newest member of your family. This can be a confusing and difficult decision and many people spend days mulling over the perfect name for their dog. Despite the fact that you might be feeling stumped, making this choice for your puppy should be a fun and exciting experience — it marks the very beginning of your journey with your new companion.

An article from the New York Times describes dog naming as an “art. A science. Serendipity. Intuition.”

If you're worried about picking too human of a name, or too trendy of a name, you're not alone. Alexandra Horowitz, a professor of animal behavior and psychology at Barnard College, told the Times she would prefer if people focused on picking a name they'll feel comfortable having a conversation with.

“I like names that I’m willing to say repeatedly,” said Horowitz, “because you find yourself often conversing with your dog. It’s more that we’re finding a way to give the dog an identity, to draw a place for it in our lives," she said.

Stanley Coren, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of British Columbia, told Modern Dog that dog names with two syllables will allow your dog to better understand the emotion and/or urgency you’re using when saying their name.

Additionally, you might want to avoid names that rhyme with commands you’ll end up teaching your dog, i.e. “Kit” sounds like “sit,” and “Ray” sounds like “stay,” and “Mo” sounds like “no.”

Dogtime recently reported the top 20 dog names (male and female) as researched by VPI Pet Insurance:

  1. Bailey
  2. Max
  3. Charlie
  4. Buddy
  5. Rocky
  6. Jake
  7. Jack
  8. Toby
  9. Cody
  10. Buster
  11. Bella
  12. Lucy
  13. Molly
  14. Daisy
  15. Maggie
  16. Sophie
  17. Sadie
  18. Chloe
  19. Bailey
  20. Lola

If none of those inspired you, or if you’d rather give your new puppy a unique name — here are a few categories to choose from that can help guide your choice, in no order of popularity:

  • Cocoa
  • Basil
  • Cupcake
  • Bean(s)
  • Parsley
  • Walnut
  • Pasta
  • Nugget
  • Mochi
  • Muffin
  • Ginger
  • Pumpkin
  • Peanut
  • Noodles
  • Nacho
  • Meatball
  • Tofu
  • Apple
  • Blossom
  • Clover
  • Jasmine
  • Petunia
  • Aspen
  • Maple
  • Copper
  • Crystal
  • Autumn
  • Cedar
  • Bluebell
  • Winter
  • Storm
  • Radar
  • Thunder
  • Sunny
  • Arya
  • Maisel
  • Gomez
  • Kylie
  • Cardi
  • Gambino
  • Chrissy
  • Banksy
  • Cooper
  • Archie
  • Maisie
  • Sonja
  • Frida
  • Hodor
  • Extra
  • Blue
  • Loki
  • Groot

Old-fashioned names, for dogs with clearly old souls:

  • Alexander
  • Agnes
  • Quincy
  • Annabell
  • Elmer
  • Frances
  • Georgia
  • Crawford
  • Monroe
  • Clara
  • Henry
  • Jacob
  • Matthew
  • Ira
  • Charlotte
  • Jonah
  • Leonard
  • Josephine
  • Martin

Names for small-breed dogs, or dogs who act like they’re small:

  • Button
  • Pip
  • Dobby
  • Bitsy
  • Cricket
  • Hercules
  • Quark
  • Ruby
  • Pixie
  • Poppy
  • Sprout
  • Bitsy

Names for large-breed dogs, or dogs who are larger than life at heart:

  • Alpha
  • Athena
  • Fang
  • Magnus
  • Moose
  • Largo
  • Viggo
  • Bolt
  • Blizzard
  • Bubba
  • Mountain
  • River
  • Sequoia
  • Titan
  • Bruno
  • Thor

Of course, these are all just suggestions. You might end up needing to get to know your dog’s personality before making this decision. Whatever choice you make, have fun coming up with options that best suit your puppy and your family — good luck!