How to Name Your Dog

By Bethney Foster

So you've finally picked the perfect pooch. You researched breeds and mixes. You considered age, gender and types of fur. Now that darling new family member is looking up at you, and it's time to name him. The choices are endless. You can give him a typically human name or a typically canine name. You can name him for his appearance, his heritage or his personality. In choosing a name that will make both him and you happy, consider how it will sound to him and how it will sound in social situations.

Sound Considerations

Choose a name that has no more than one or two syllables. If there's a longer name that you love, think of a one to two-syllable nickname. A name with more syllables takes too long to say when you're repeating it to get your dog's attention and is less likely to capture your dog's attention.

Consider the sound that begins prospective dog names. Choosing a name that begins with an s, k or c sound may help your dog hear his name when you call him in a noisy environment.

Pick a name that ends with the right sound. Names that end with a vowel may also help your dog to distinguish his name if there is other noise when you call him.

Think about whether the name you're choosing rhymes with or sounds like common commands you may teach your dog. For example, if your dog's name is Rover, he may confuse it with the command "roll over." If his name is "Socks," will he expect a walk every time you say his name?

Practical Considerations

Avoid very common names. If your dog's name is Lady and you call her at the park, you may have a whole pack show up at your feet.

Consider the future. Think about how the name you give your dog today is going to fit and sound three or four years from now. Naming your new Labrador puppy "Tiny" might not seem like such a good idea when he's 70 pounds...or maybe it will!

Choose a name that is not going to embarrass you when you use it in public. It may seem funny to name your gentle, lazy Rottweiler "Killer," but think about how you will feel giving that name to the receptionist at the veterinary clinic when you take your dog for his vaccinations.

Think about who else might share a name you're considering giving your dog. Many guardians choose "human" names for their pets, and there's no reason to exclude these names from your choices. Just keep in mind that if your dog and your great uncle are both named "Bill," it could make for an awkward situation when you're scolding "Bill" for stealing food from the Thanksgiving table.

Look at your dog and consider the obvious. If your new companion is a fuzzy, white Spitz, maybe "Snowball" is a name to consider. If you're looking for a twist, maybe "Midnight" is more your style.