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 that 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 Irish names for your Irish Setter, or German names for your German Shepherd.
One thing to keep in mind if you’re looking for dog names 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. Cat names don't have to meet the same standards.
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.
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 among the most popular dog names, while those three plus Pumpkin rank among the most popular cat names. 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.
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.
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.
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. Mythological names for boys such as 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.
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.
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.