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Pets Look Like Their Names

September 22, 2020 Sophie Kihm
pet 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.

Names for White, Silver, and Blue Pets

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.

Albus

Ash

Aspen

Blanca

Blue

Casper

Cinder

Dusty

Fiona

Frost

Ghost

Gray

Ivory

Lacy

Navy

Pearl

Slate

Sterling

Sugar

Winter

Names for Blonde and Orange 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.

Apricot

Blondie

Clementine

Copper

Finley

Flynn

Goldie

Ginger

Honey

Nacho

Nugget

Penny

Poppy

Pumpkin

Rory

Ruby

Rusty

Sandy

Scarlett

Sienna

Names for Brown and Black Pets

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.

Other names for pets with brown and black fur include those connected to the night, such as Layla, Vesper, and Midnight, as well as names that mean dark, including Darcy and Sully.

Bruno

Cocoa

Darcy

Hershey

Kona

Layla

Maple

Midnight

Mocha

Onyx

Oreo

Pepper

Sable

Shadow

Smokey

Storm

Sully

Tux

Vesper

Whiskey

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.

However, it can be fun to defy expectations and go with a name that doesn’t match your pet’s size. It would be very amusing to meet the Newfoundland called Baby or the Shih Tzu named Thor.

Names for Small Pets

Small pets may be petite in stature but make up for it in personality. Popular names for small pets include Peanut, Baby, Minnie, and Chico.

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.

Baby

Bambi

Bean

Chico

Chiquita

Conan

Cosette

Dot

Feeny

Fiorella

Ladybug

Minnie

Noodle

Peanut

Pixie

Santino

Squirt

Sweeney

Yara

Yoda

Names for Large Pets

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.

Alpha

Apollo

Bear

Buddha

Brutus

Clifford

Everest

Gordo

Gulliver

Hulk

King

Loki

Magnus

Moose

Rex

Tank

Thor

Tiger

Zeus

Zeppelin

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.

A note of caution — with these names, be careful what you wish for. If your Diablo is indeed devilish or Chewy munches on all your shoes, we’re not taking responsibility.

Bandit

Bonanza

Boomer

Chewy

Diablo

Diesel

Electra

Flash

Gunner

Hunter

Indie

Jinx

Maverick

Rebel

Rocket

Sassy

Sparky

Tempest

Wilder

Ziggy

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.

Angel

Bliss

Bodhi

Bubba

Buddy

Dolly

Dozer

Dream

Dudley

Halo

Lady

Love

Lucky

Oso

Pax

Serenity

Sunny

Teddy

Treasure

Zen

What are your favorite pet names? Tell us your pet’s name!

About the author

Sophie Kihm

Sophie Kihm has been writing for Nameberry since 2015. She has contributed stories on the top middle names of 2019, the top baby names in each state, and the hottest nickname names of 2018. Sophie is Nameberry’s resident Name Guru to the Stars, where she suggests names for celebrity babies. She also manages the Nameberry Instagram and Pinterest. You can follow her personally on Instagram or Pinterest, or contact her at sophie@nameberry.com. Sophie lives in Chicago.

View all of Sophie Kihm's articles

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