The Naming of Dogs
Some dogs have common people names, like Max or Sophie. Some dogs have uncommon or old-fashioned people names, like Elmer or Beulah. And some dogs have decidedly pet-specific names. You’d be hard-pressed to find a human named Pickles, Radar, or Starbutt*.
My own dog’s name is a bit of a hybrid. “Sam” is relatively common, but it’s usually short for Samuel. There aren’t many baby Samsons these days, though of course it’s a brilliant name for a dog, especially a tiny dog with long, unruly hair. (If I shave him, does that make me Delilah? I’m only trying to make him more handsome!)
But if you’re going to give your dog a human name, you can’t just throw a dart at a baby name book. Can you imagine a dog named Matthew? Stephanie? Eric? Many great dog names are human nicknames (Emmy, Chuck), but even “Matt” and “Steph” would sound out of place at the dog park.
I’ve looked through the fifty most popular names for human babies in 2011 (fifty names each for boys and girls, actually) and picked out what I think are the most and least suitable candidates for dog names. Why? Because it’s NaBloPoMo and I had to write something.
So, in my two minutes of consideration, with no rational basis for the decision, I’ve judged the most suitable to be . . . Mason and Zoe. I have to admit that I’m a little biased on the boys’ side: my brother’s dog is named Mason. But I still think it’s a perfectly good dog name, even if it did fly up to SECOND in the national rankings last year thanks to that one Kardashian who keeps reproducing. Runners-up: Luke, Jack, Riley, and Layla.
The popular human names least suitable for dogs? Christian and Evelyn. This one was tough. It turns out most common human names sound weird on dogs, so it was hard picking the absolute worst. I had to think about which had dog-friendly nicknames to break the tie. Elizabeth could be Lizzy, Benjamin could be Ben or Benny. Even Christopher and Victoria could be Topher and Torey, if you squint a little. But the only nicknames I could think of for Christian and Evelyn were Chris and Lyn, which aren’t much more doggish than the originals. Runners-up: John, Ethan, Charlotte, Natalie.
My takeaway? Human girl names sound way better on dogs than boy names do. Is that because boy dogs are more likely to get goofy names like Buster or Taco? I don’t know. What I do know is that I finished writing this post before midnight. Shazam!
* Actual name of a dog my dad knew growing up.