Pets Look Like Their Names
The options for pet names are seemingly more expansive than baby names — after all, you wouldn’t call your child Pumpkin, but that’s definitely fair game for a cat.
But while parents of human babies are seeking out rarer and rarer names, pet parents are returning to the same sources of inspiration for the names of their fur-children. A recent poll by PetFirst Pet Insurance found that 68% of people choose names that match their pet’s appearance or personality. This explains the pervasive popularity of pet names such as Princess, Shadow, and Peanut.
You may be inspired to choose a name the corresponds to your pet’s coloring, size, or personality — and don’t worry, there are unique options in each category, if that’s important to you. Another factor to consider is breed origin. This could mean using an Irish name for your Irish Setter, or a German name for your German Shepherd.
One thing to keep in mind if you’re naming a dog is syllable count. Dogs respond best to names that have two syllables — long enough to hear the inflection in your voice, but short enough to remember. If you do go for a shorter or longer name, brainstorm some two-syllable nicknames — you may use one more than you think.
Here, pet names inspired by personal characteristics:
Pet Names by Color
The characteristics of a pet’s fur — particularly color — are a common source of inspiration for names. Popular dog names such as Mocha and Sandy are suggestive of certain shades of brown and blonde. And it’s safe to assume that most dogs named Oreo are black and white in coloring.
Common names for white pets include Sugar and Pearl, as well as Aspen, which is evocative of the snow in the ski town. Names related to things that are white, such as ghosts and lace, as well as traditional names that mean white, such as Albus and Blanca, also make good names for light-colored pets.
Many of these names also work for pets that are bluish grey in color, such as a Weimaraner, which is commonly referred to as “The Grey Ghost.” Additionally, names that mean blue, including Navy and Blue itself, are appropriate for these pets.
Pet owners love to choose colorful names for their blonde and orange fur-babies. Penny, Ginger, and Ruby rank in the Top 50 for dogs, while those three plus Pumpkin make the Top 50 for cats. If you prefer a name with a subtler connection to your pets’ coloring, Finley, Flynn, or Rory are names with red meanings — perfect for a pet with coppery fur.
There are a number of great food names for pets that feel especially apt for a blonde or orange-colored dog or cat. Ginger, Pumpkin, and Honey are the most common, but the sky’s the limit when it comes to creative pet names. Apricot, Nugget, and Nacho are some of our favorite unique choices.
If light-colored pet owners are inspired by food for their pets’ names, dark-colored pet owners are inspired by drinks. These include Cocoa, Whiskey, and every coffee-related name you can think of. Kona and Mocha are the most common, but we’ve also heard of pets named Latte, Java, and even Venti.
Pet Names by Size
Of all pets, dogs in particular are often named for their size. You know your Chihuahua won’t ever be more than ten pounds, so why not call her Peanut? On the other hand, your Mastiff might be better off with a name like Moose.
You may choose a name for your pet inspired by a small object, such as Bean, Ladybug, or Dot, or a character known for their tininess, like Yoda or Bambi. There are also names that mean short, little, or small, such as Cosette, Feeny, and Santino.
Large pet names are appropriate for pets that are tall in height or stocky in build. Many big pet owners are inspired by mythology for their pets’ names. Greek and Norse god names Zeus, Loki, Apollo, and Thor all rank within the Top 50 for dogs. These names are mighty and imposing — perfect for a large pet (or a small pet with a big personality).
It’s also common to give big dogs and cats names of large animals, such as Bear, Moose, and Tiger. While these names can be used for pets of any sex, male pets are generally the ones being given names related to height and heft.
Pet Names by Personality
The traits exhibited by our pets — or ones we hope to cultivate in them — also serve as fodder for their names. A particularly sleepy puppy may be dubbed Dozer, while a sneaky kitten gets the name Bandit.
Many personality-defining pet names are word names, but you can also look to lists of names that mean friend and names that mean happy, as well as badass cat names and badass dog names to find a name that suits your pet.
Names for Feisty Pets
Feisty pet names convey spunky and independent spirits in dogs and cats. Diesel and Maverick are among the top personality-packed names for dogs, while Ziggy and Sassy rank highly for cats. Unique names for your feisty and fiery pet include many related to electricity, such as Electra and Flash, Rocket and Sparky.
Names for Easygoing Pets
A placid pet may require a name that speaks to his or her friendly and easygoing nature. Buddy is the most popular relaxed name for pets, ranking within the Top 5 for dogs and Top 15 for cats. Other common choices include Angel, Teddy, Lucky, and Dolly.
Calm pets might inspire names such as Zen, Bodhi, and Bliss, while owners of cuddly, affectionate pets may go with a name such as Dolly, Teddy, or Oso (the Spanish word for “bear”). Rarer options include Halo, Pax, and Treasure.
What are your favorite pet names? Tell us your pet’s name!
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on September 22nd, 2020 at 1:11 pm
My German Shepherd’s name was Ilo and I always loved his name, it was very unique yet rolled easily off the tongue.
on September 22nd, 2020 at 1:18 pm
My cats, all five of them, are named after fictional characters I like. Hilariously, four out of the five have personalities that are basically the polar opposites of the characters they’re named for. The only one who matches her namesake is Ellie, who was named for the character from the video game “The Last of Us.” Both my cat Ellie and the fictional Ellie are brash, stubborn, opinionated, talkative, and swear like sailors. XD
on September 22nd, 2020 at 2:56 pm
Our corgi was Hoover, like the vacuum cleaner. He sucked down food rapidly and indiscriminately, often without chewing, and liked to “mop” the kitchen floor after every meal.
on September 23rd, 2020 at 9:48 pm
My Border collie was Annabel May, but we called her May-dog.
Current cats are (mine) Duncan the Bengal (from The Scottish Play), Olav One-Ear (an allusion to Olav One-Eye, king of Norway; he’s bright red), and Elsie, who if she were human, would be a cockney guttersnipe.
Our rescued bottle twins are Reah and Feena, after a video game, but I don’t remember which one. My son named them.
on September 23rd, 2020 at 10:39 pm
Some nice choices on here! I have worked in the shelter, rescue, and veterinary world for a while now. When animals are named Oreo or something else really obvious depending on the coat color my eyes roll to the back of my head. Once we had 4 Buddys on the schedule in one day! Confusing AND boring! Some of my favorite names were always very unique; Madeleine Albright, Ricky Spanish, Declan, Crockett, etc. I’m guilty of using a couple popular names for my cats so I guess I can’t talk much… I like giving them people names with middle names.
Stewart Ferguson (nn. BooBoo, Stewart Millicent Ferguson!)
Isabella Sophia (nn. Bella, *Quintessential 2007!*)
Sheldon Cooper (Sheldor the Destroyer)
Ernestine Louise (E, Bean, Ernestine the Pirate Queen)
Helena Barbara (Nell, Nellico the Calico)
Pearl Antoinette (Priceless Pearl, Pearlie Girl)
on September 24th, 2020 at 2:50 pm
My black cat was a stray for the first year of her life and has some nervous tendencies. My partner named her Fidget, after the bat from the Great Mouse Detective, because we had recently watched it and gone as characters for Halloween. It was a cute name so I said yes – turns out it suited our nervous, fidgety cat perfectly
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