Baby Name Spike: People vs pet names

When Mike Myers named his son Spike recently, there were several comments on our Nameberry facebook page along the lines of: “Did his wife have a puppy?” and “Bit doggy for me.”  Not very kind, perhaps, but it does raise the subject of the blurring of the line between human and canine names, when babies are being named Buster and Buddy, and pups are commonly called Chloe and Mia.

So little Spike won’t be alone in his name zone.  Other celebs have provided him with a number of comparably-named prospective (if older) playmates.  There’s Michelle Hicks and Jonny Lee Miller’s Buster, Rosanne Barr’s Buck, Jamie Oliver’s Buddy Bear and Alicia Silverstone’s Bear, Justine Bateman’s Duke, Damon Dash’s Lucky, Gerard Way’s Bandit and Robert Rodriguez’s Rocket, as well as the poodle-ready Coco (Courteney Cox & David Arquette), Gigi (Cynthia Rowley), Fifi (Bob Geldof) and Zuzu (Tania Peterson).

But are these still the kinds of names that are actually given to dogs today, when pups are considered more family members than pets?  The answer is a resounding no!  Traditional canine monikers like Fido and Rover, Spot, and Champ have virtually disappeared, having been replaced by popular people names.  In fact, looking at the most recent list of top names for dogs might make you do a doubte-take as it’s so similar to the top babies’ names lists.

Evidence: Here are some of the leading canine names, with their comparative dog and human popularity rankings (puppy numbers on the left, kids on the right)– so maybe you won’t be too surprised if a Cocker Spaniel comes running next time you call out your child’s name in the park:

Girls

Canine            Human

1.  Bella 48

2. Molly 87

3. Lucy 75

6.  Sophie 59

7. Sadie 118

8.  Chloe 9

9.  Bailey 78

11. Zoe 31

18. Lily 17

21. Emma 3

28. Mia 10

30. Zoey 47

31.  Madison 8

32. Stella 85

36. Samantha 15

Boys

1.   Max—98

4.   Jake—116

6.   Charlie–244

7.  Jack—-44

9.  Cody—158

12. Cooper—76

13. Riley—105 (40 for girls)

19. Oliver—88

21. Oscar—-147

30. Jackson—25

35. Milo—422

38. Hunter—59

47. Romeo—358

49. Luke—41

50. Henry—67

And here,  for an added bit of trivial pursuit, a comparison of some celebrities’ naming styles for their human and pet darlings:

Adam Sandler: Sadie, Sunny for his daughters vs. Meatball for his Bulldog

Alicia Silverstone: baby Bear Blu vs.dogs  Samson, Scottie, Cale, Jeffrey, Lacey

Ashlee Simpson: Bronx vs. Blondie

Brad Garrett: Hope vs. Gus

Courteney Cox: Coco vs. Ella, Harley, Hopper

Drea De Matteo: Alabama, Waylon (called Blackjack) vs. Cyrus

Elton John: Zachary vs. Marilyn

Ethan Hawke: Maya, Levon, Clementine, Indiana vs. Nina

Geri Halliwell: Bluebell Madonna vs. Daddie

Gillian Anderson: Piper, Felix, Oscar vs. Cleo, Pasha

Gwyneth Paltrow: Apple, Moses vs. Holden

Halle Berry: Nahla vs. Bubba, Polly

Helen Hunt: MaKena’Lei vs. Johnny

Jenna Elfman: Story, Easton vs. Guinevere

Jennifer Garner & Ben Affleck : Violet, Seraphina vs. Martha Stewart

Jessica Alba: Honor, Haven vs. Nancy

Kate Hudson: Ryder, Bingham vs. Clara Bo

Liv Tyler: Milo vs. Neal

Minnie Driver: Henry vs. Bubba

Nicole Richie: Harlow, Sparrow vs. Foxy Cleopatra, Honeychild

Pete Wentz: Bronx vs. Rigby, Hemingway

Reese Witherspoon: Ava, Deacon vs. Chi Chi Rodriguez, Coco Chanel, Frank Sinatra

Sarah Jessica Parker & Matthew Broderick: James, Tabitha, Marion vs Sally

Tori Spelling: Liam, Stella vs. Mimi La Rue

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19 Responses to “Baby Name Spike: People vs pet names”

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MaryB Says:

October 4th, 2011 at 1:55 am

I lol’d at dogs named Martha Stewart, Foxy Cleopatra (I love Nicole Ritchie),Frank Sinatra, and Neal. I believe Tori Spelling’s (very old) dog Mimi LaRue recently died within the last year or so. I think it might make a difference whether the dog was named/brought home before or after the birth of the kids. I also often wonder about the ‘sib-set’ aspect of dog naming where people will have one dog whose name is totally different from the rest. I feel like sometimes that an older dog was adopted ‘pre-named’ but sometimes I just wonder!

shellezbellez Says:

October 4th, 2011 at 2:17 am

I love naming pets “people” names. It gives them a little dignity. 🙂

My dog is named Molly, and my parents are on their second Max. I know dogs named Maggie, Bailey, Carly, Phoebe, Lila, Aja, Linus, Chloe, and Jessie. I have had or known dogs named Charlie, Belle, Rudy, Mandy, and Jack.

Cats are fun, too. I have a Lenore, Silas, Sophie, and Barney right now. (The other two are Bourre and Gandalf.) I know cats named Addy, Castiel, Sala, Terrance, and Romeo.

When my brother and I were kids, one of our cats had three kittens. My mom let us name one each. Mine was Miko after my favorite Barbie at the time; my mom’s was Sebastian; my brother’s? Oigy-Oigy. My dad once named a cat “Poop.” We got cards from the vet with “Dear Poop: It’s time for your shots.” My mother was mortified, but as kids, we thought it was pretty funny. I don’t so much, anymore. (Though I did keep one of the cards from the vet!)

I think I like Liv Tyler’s “Neal” the best of the celebrity list, though The Affleck family’s “Martha Stewart” is a close second. Nicole Richie’s dogs have fun names, though. They must be fin to call in after dark, lol!

msmoll91 Says:

October 4th, 2011 at 8:33 am

As a Mollie, people constantly tell me about their pets of the same name. My sister is Maggie, and she receives the same feedback! I guess my parents were ahead of their time! As a side note, both my sister and I have pets with non-human names :).

spotlightstarlit Says:

October 4th, 2011 at 9:39 am

I feel Alicia got hers backwards, her child has the dogs name, and her dogs would make very well-named people!

As always, Jenna Elfman knows names. I love her sons, Story & Easton, and now her pup, Guinevere. Makes me wonder what she would name a daughter. Isolde? Eloise? Helena? Thisbe? Oh, I can see her with a little Thisbe!

Are you going to be doing a cats post, along with the rise of Felix and others people associate with felines?

Marginamia Says:

October 4th, 2011 at 12:25 pm

As a girl, I had dogs and cats named:
Sadie
Samson (turned Samantha when we discovered things weren’t quite what they seemed)
Naomi

As an adult, my cats were:
Cassius (Cas)
Abby (turned Jerry, when, yet again, things weren’t as they seemed….hmm, no wonder I was skeptical of my kids’ ultra sounds)
Penelope

Lesson: careful what you name your pets, it takes fantastic baby names off the table ,though we did briefly consider Naomi, any way.

i.heart.nerds Says:

October 4th, 2011 at 2:50 pm

In my family we have pets named:
Lucinda nn Lucy
Charlie (male)
Cleopatra nn Cleo
Nefertiti nn Ty (cleos daughter.)
Chloe
Mackenzie nn Mac and Max (male)
Angus nn Gus Gus
Dante
Beatrice nn Beazy
Maximillion Frederick Holstrom the Third nn Leon

So a lot of pretty cool names are off the table. My family likes to name their children top ten or twenty names.

Sassy Says:

October 4th, 2011 at 3:01 pm

I either know or have heard about 7 names from the girls list and 2 names off the boys list for dogs. I’ve also met a Laura at the dog park. It always makes me giggle since I have a friend named Laura.
My dog’s name is Jethro and our cats are Cow and Zoe. Jethro we named, Cow my husband named and Zoe came from the shelter with that name.
I try not to name my animals something I would use on a future child. Although, I kind of like human names on them, lol.

sharn Says:

October 4th, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Over the years we have had some very interesting pets with some very interesting names.
When I was young we had a dog called Cindy, a cat called Ginny-puss and another cat my parents let me name called Buttonnose.
My sister then went through a stage of loving goldfish which preceeded her love of mice. We had Fish and Chip (goldfish) and Bubbles and Squeak (Mice).
We also had a beautiful pekinese pomeranium cross named Tess for a few years before she passed away, and now have a gorgeous puppy named Miley and three cats named Tyson, Harlen and Bella – all of which my sister named.

CountryLizB Says:

October 4th, 2011 at 3:52 pm

I have a grandma named Gretchen and she used to not know anyone else with that name but, she knew lots of Dachshunds with that name.

gabby1 Says:

October 4th, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I know dogs named Howie, Henry, Molly, Constance, Dinah, Hannah, Wilder, Adara and Gabby.

And I just met a kid named Topher.(short for Christopher). But I haven’t met any kids named Spot:)

agirlinred Says:

October 4th, 2011 at 5:08 pm

I definitely think that pets should have people names. Naming pets is even better than naming people, because pets can carry names that people can’t. Love the name Humphrey or Gladys but don’t have the guts to name your baby that? Give the name to your pet!

Jaci Says:

October 4th, 2011 at 5:37 pm

My childhood dog was named Darth Vader nn Vader by my dad. I always enjoy telling people his name because it’s so fun. I’d love to have pets named Brutus, Arthur and Frodo!

Taz Says:

October 6th, 2011 at 11:33 am

my poor husband max- at the dog park he’s always looking this way and that way while everyone calls out his name! i always laugh when i hear dogs called very serious human names like geraldine or stephen. on a goofy dog it’s just so funny. on a cat, not so much, they all seem like geraldine’s or stephen’s to me.

CassieCake Says:

October 8th, 2011 at 9:50 pm

My dog’s name is Sophie. I have always been a fan of giving animals human names. But I’m not a fan of giving humans dog names, at least they are unique though.

CassieCake Says:

October 8th, 2011 at 9:53 pm

I have also met a lot of dogs and cats named Cassie. I’m happy to share my name. 🙂

lexical Says:

October 11th, 2011 at 1:54 am

My silly, fluffy dog is named Milo. I will forever snicker at people who name their children that, which seems to be an increasing trend these days. It’s just not a name that I could ever take seriously on a human. I think it’s awful. Giving dogs human names works fine, but giving humans dog names just doesn’t fly with me.

acait Says:

November 4th, 2011 at 9:04 am

My dogs are named Frank Lloyd Wright (female Chi-Weenie) and Moses Supposes (male labra-pit). I want to name my kids Roscoe (f) and Rufus (m). All I hear about is how cruel/irresponsible it would be to give my children “dog” names. Regardless, I’m stuck on them and until I fall in love with another name, that’s the gameplan.

thelifespark Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 4:37 pm

My baby (by which I mean my dog) is Gus and my cats are Jafar and Lulu. I like them to have names with some personality.

starophie Says:

June 4th, 2012 at 11:11 pm

I think pets are the perfect vehicles for names you’d love to use, but are too timid to give a baby. Like, if I could have a pet, I would go for something like Alastair or Niamh, because I wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable naming a child that, but no one would blink at a puppy or parrot with a more offbeat moniker.

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