What’s in a Name?
Veterinarian Reviewed on March 12, 2009 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
One of the best aspects of owning a cat or dog is getting to choose your pet’s name. For years, people have thought that ‘Fido’ was the perfect name for a dog and ‘Kitty’ was the perfect name for a cat.
Well, times have changed and so have the names of pets. In January, The Veterinary Pet Insurance Company (VPI) surveyed more than 466,000 insured pets in their database, and released a listing of the most popular dog and cat names in 2008.
Not surprisingly, Max and Lucy were the most popular names for both dogs and cats. All-in-all, the surveyed data revealed that most pet owners forgo traditional pet names and opt for more ‘people’ names. In fact, some of the most popular dog and cat names also rank among the Social Security Administration’s most popular baby names.
“Pets are often viewed as members of the family, treated like members of the family and, as a result, named like members of the family,” said Curtis Steinhoff, Senior Director of Corporate Communications for VPI. “Max may sleep on his owner’s bed, eat gourmet food and wear clothes to go out on the town. Rover probably does not. Max is short, yet easy to distinguish from common commands, so it is easy to understand why it’s such a popular pet name.”
Not to be forgotten though are those pets with highly unique names; VPI selected 50 of the most unusual dog and cat names and voted for the 10 most unusual names in each category:
1. Rush Limbark
2. Sirius Lee Handsome
4. Low Jack
6. Peanut Wigglebutt
7. Scuddles Unterfuss
8. Sophie Touch & Pee
9. Admiral Toot
1. Edward Scissorpaws
2. Sir Lix-a-lot
3. Optimus Prrrime
4. Buddah Pest
5. Snoop Kitty Kitty
6. Miss Fuzzbutt
7. 80 Bucks
9. Rosie Posie Prozac
10. Toot Uncommon
However, most pet experts usually advise new pet owners to choose an easy and simple name; one that their dog or cat can easily distinguish from other sounds and words. Avoid names such as ‘Joe’ as it sounds too close to the command ‘No’. Pets will respond better to a name that has only one or two syllables.
Also, keep in mind that the name you choose should be one that you are comfortable calling out in public. For example, calling ‘Max’ is far less embarrassing than calling out ‘Hairy Putter’ at your local dog park. On the flip side, some dog names can cause people to judge a dog and react fearfully when meeting the dog, such as ‘Demon’ or ‘Brutus’.
When going for a longer name, take a minute to think about any abbreviations that can come from such a long name. A long name will inevitably be shortened, but it may ruin the effect that you were originally looking for.
Your pet’s name could also be chosen by watching their behavior and personality traits; or by physical characteristics that they might possess. The heritage of a pet’s breed is another source for unusual pet names, such as ‘Scotty’ for Scottish Terriers, ‘Fleur’ for French Poodles and ‘Ming’ for Oriental cats.
Remember that the name that you ultimately choose for your dog or cat, will say as much about you as it does about your pet! It shows how you view your dog or cat and your relationship with them.
Photo Credit: Faeryboots
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan