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How to Choose a Name for a Dog: 8 Tips

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One of the most exciting parts of preparing for your new dog is picking the perfect name. With so many options out there, however, it can get a little overwhelming. Here are 8 tips on how to choose a name for a dog to help you with the process!

How to Choose a Name for a Dog: 8 Tips

Listen to names around you

Keep an ear out for interesting names everywhere you are. When you’re on a walk, at a park or anywhere with other dogs, listen to the owners call their dog’s name and see if anything inspires you.

When you’re reading or watching TV, pay attention to character names. Constantly be on the lookout during your day-to-day life.

For example, my aunt picked up her work phone one day, saw the Cisco logo and decided that Cisco was a cool name for her new puppy. Inspiration is everywhere!

What are your interests?

Think about your life interests, hobbies and passions. They’re a great source for potential names and come with added meaning.

A Milwaukee Brewers fan could name his dog Wrigley. Someone who likes sewing could name her dog Stitch.

It’s all about the syllables

Experts recommend shorter dog names that come to your lips easily, preferably around 1-2 syllables.

You’ll be saying your pup’s name often, and at times it’s imperative to get their attention.

Finding a unique name is fun…

There’s something to be said about finding a dog name that few others have. It avoids potential confusion at the dog park and provides an extra bit of individuality for both your dog and you.

First, take a look at a list of the most popular dog names. Avoid these names if you want to find something truly unique.

If you can’t figure out a unique name by doing step 1 and 2, here are a few other ideas:

  • Think geography – You could find a cool dog name that’s based on your local geography or somewhere cool you’ve traveled.
  • Try another language – Look up popular dog names in another language. Or take a name or word in English and try it out in another language. Go to Google Translate and play around with the different options.
  • Turn to online tools – Try an online name generator and discover options you might not have thought of.

…but there can be downsides

Unique names can often be harder for others to learn and pronounce. Also, names that are cutting edge today can turn outdated in no time.

When the song first came out, Macarena could be used for a fun, trendy dog name. But a few years later, after hearing the song hundreds of mind-numbing times, the name then turns passé.

Think of others when choosing a dog name

Don’t forget to consider others. Avoid names that already in use in your inner circle, whether it belongs to a person or another pet.

Compromise if need be

If you’re raising the dog with someone else, say your significant other and/or kids, it’s important to find a name that everyone agrees upon.

One idea to help compromise: If you’re having a hard time agreeing on a name, have everyone sit down and write their favorite top 5-10 names on Post-its, one name per sheet. Then take the names and stick them on the wall. Consolidate any of the duplicates. This will visually help you sort out favorite names and discuss the possibilities.

Another way to compromise is to give the dog two names. One person likes Libby and the other likes May? Name your dog Libby May! 

Try it out!

This is a no-brainer – make sure you practice saying the name, in several different tones, to see if it works. Can you imagine yourself calling that name in public? As a kid, my friend wanted to name his dog Freedom. His dad quickly nixed that idea when he realized he’d be yelling FREEDOM!!! out the deck every morning.

Brainstorming names is a fun process and chance to unleash your creativity. Good luck!


Jessi Klein is co-creator of My Dog’s Name (, a fun and easy-to-use website to help you find the perfect dog name. She lives is Minneapolis and is proud mom to Toby (photo, above), a yellow/red Labrador Retriever who is too smart for his own good.

Photo courtesy of Jessi Klein

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Bella Kronos Terra

Monday 11th of November 2013

Kronos and Terra seem to be pretty unique names, though of course Bella is one of the most common names out there!

Shelly PoochParkWear

Monday 11th of November 2013

I called my lil one Layla which means Night in Hebrew as she arrived at night from the shelter and is black :)

Andrea Brucelo

Sunday 10th of November 2013

Choosing my dogs name was so easy and fun. My best friend and I had a really long drive on the way to pick up my dog so we bounced names back and forth in the car which made the drive not seem so long. The only things we knew were he was a boy and a Brittany. I wanted a name that would fit the breed but I also wanted to wait until we met him to decide for sure. We pretty much mentioned every name under the sun and eventually decided on Peyton or Tucker. Six long hours later, the moment we laid eyes on him, we both knew he was a Tucker!

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