Finding unique dog names is one of the most fun – and daunting! – tasks of being a pet parent. You want to pick the perfect dog name for your canine friend that will likely lead to good nicknames and personalized and catchy monikers.
When it comes to naming our dogs, we’re like celebrities naming their babies (Apple, Maddox, Blanket). Everything from obscure Game of Thrones references, Harry Potter tributes, world travel locales, classic movies and science fiction all serve as inspiration for unique dog names.
For instance, if you’re a movie buff like me, you could name your dogs “Jack” and “Rose” (Titanic), “Baby” and “Johnny” (Dirty Dancing) and “Bella” and “Edward” (Twilight).
Sports fans might pick the first or last names of the players they admire most while literature enthusiasts might name a dog after their favorite author or book characters.
According to the American Kennel Club, the number of dogs named after “Frozen” characters jumped 900 percent the year after the movie came out, so there’s a good chance you could meet an “Olaf” at the dog park.
Food and drink are favorite themes too, according to the AKC. There was a 37 percent rise in food-themed names from 2013 to 2014, so there’s a good chance you’ll run into “Java” and “Bud” on an outing as well.
Back in 1995, when we brought out first puppy home – a black Labrador Rottweiler mix – I remember agonizing for days for a unique name for our new 8-week dog. We thought of movie characters, rock stars and even songs for inspiration. We considered naming our new best friend Lars and Floyd at one point before we agreed he was a Max.
I remember thinking at the time that I’d never heard of a dog named Max (oh the early pre-Internet days before a quick Google search would have turned up the most popular names!). For years after, it seemed like every other dog I met on the street was named Max. Imagine my surprise when I read an article the following year that “Max” was one of the most popular boy dog names of all time (and still is!).
But I can’t imagine that we would have called him by any other name.
Tips for selecting a Unique dog name
- Names often reflect the character and behavior of your dog. Observe your pooch for a few days and see what kinds of traits the dog’s personality might suggest. Is he energetic and playful? Does she always aim to be the center of attention? If so, how about “Flash” or “Star”?
- Looks are everything (sometimes!). What does your new pup look like? Is your dog a brown, fluffy fur ball (“Bear”) or a sleek, black beauty (“Shadow”)? Focus on the physical features you admire about your pup to see what ideas might emerge.
- Pick a name that fits any age. Don’t pick a name that is cute for a 10-week puppy you can hold in one hand NOW without thinking of what it might sound like when he reaches 78 pounds in four years. A name like “Fuzzy” might sound great now, but it’s probably not a good fit for later.
- Be inspired by seasons, hobbies and travel. Are you crazy for fall and have a dog with brown and orange features? Do you enjoy listening to jazz and find yourself especially drawn to Kenny G music? If so, how about “Pumpkin” or “Jazz”? (Be sure to see previous suggestion about age-appropriate names). Our friends named their Labradoodle Bo (short for Cabo); another friend in California named their Shepherd mix Shasta. Other names include Kona (Hawaii), Denali (Alaska) and Georgia.
- Short, sweet and simple names only. Easily recognizable names work best in making sure your dog is responsive when you call him. Select a name that is one or two syllables, ending in a vowel, such as “Roxie” or “Ellie.” Even names that don’t end in a vowel are good choices: “Jack” or “Cash.” Be careful that you don’t choose a name that is too long or difficult to say. We used to call our yellow lab Jack “Sir Licks A Lot.” While that was a cute pet name for the dog, it would not have made a good formal name for him.
- Avoid dog names that sound like commands. Names like “Joe” sound like “no” when they are called.
- Don’t name your dog after a friend or family member. The only exception to this is if you’ve talked to them and have their permission. While Uncle Bob might be amused you name your lab after him, your cousin Susan might be a bit peeved to find out you named your french bulldog after her. It’s best to ask first to be sure if it’s okay.
No matter what you name your dog, make it something you like and one that your pup responds favorably to. After all, it will be a name you say for a long time to come.
RANDOM FACT: In the popular 1970’s television series “Columbo,” the detective played by Peter Falk was sometimes accompanied by his droopy-faced basset hound named “Dog.”
Unique Dog Names
Below is a list of 30 unique dog names published by the American Kennel Club in 2019. Search through the list for inspiration or to see if your dog’s name made the list. Click on the following for more inspiration on trendy girl dog names and cool boy dog names.
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Does your dog have a cool, simple, name inspired by a food, destination or favorite movie? Is your pup’s name on the list above? We’d love it if you commented below or on our Facebook page.