The People-Pet Name Switcheroo

July 5, 2016 Sophie Kihm

By Sophie Kihm

I’ve been thinking non-stop about dog names since we just recently got a puppy. When coming up with a name for the little guy, I was adamant about giving him a name that didn’t sound too “dog-like,” (aka, not Fido or Rover). I wanted him to have a real name. A person name. We ended up calling him Fisher, and it’s really the perfect name for him. It’s not too dog-like, and it’s not too common among animals or people (it ranked #799 last year). However, this whole situation got me wondering: if we like people names for pets, what about pet names for people? Are they off-limits or fair game?

BeauBeau was a quintessential dog name for a while, but ever since the early 2000s, he’s been climbing up the charts for baby boys. Alternate spelling Bo is also on the rise (and is the name of the Obama‘s dog). Beau definitely works for both dogs and babies.

Boomer– I was hesitant to include Boomer on this list, because–much like Fido and Rover–I thought it had absolutely no potential as a baby name. But Michael Phelps gave the name to his son a couple weeks ago, which changes things. My brother has been telling me forever to expect a nephew named Boomer in a dozen years or so (Beau also makes his list). Do you think Boomer could be a hit in 2028?

CocoCoco is a name I have my eye on. I’ve seen a couple of bloggers and other tastemakers use the name recently, and I think it wears really well. They are often ahead of the curve by many years though, so I suspect we’ll see a big Coco rise in around 3-5 years.

DukeDuke still feels decidedly doggish to me, though he came back into the Top 1000 in 2013, and is on the rise, along with many other royal names. Giuliana and Bill Rancic have a son named Duke, which may be inspiring some parents to go for it for their baby as opposed to their dog.

HuckHuck is a sweet nickname-y name whose most obvious full form is Huckleberry. But if most parents would want to skip over that, and pass it on to their pet instead, there are plenty of full name options besides Huckleberry, as illustrated here.

Murphy– Fun loving, Irish surname Murphy has always been common among pets, but dropped out of the top 1000 for baby boys in 1956. These days I can see Murphy working for a baby boy or girl, especially in this era of last-names-first.

RexRex may seem like the classic dog name, but he’s actually not too popular among either pooches or people. I am a big champion of using Rex on babies–it’s a perfect alternative to Max! Plus—if you’re looking for a distinctive name– it’s actually fallen lately in popularity: Rex is currently at #682, down from a peak of #617 in 2011.

Roscoe– Hipster favorite Roscoe is currently a hit for dogs, and I suspect the number of children and pets with the name will both only go up. Roscoe is a lively and sweet name–I wouldn’t be surprised to see it break the Top 1000 in the next few years.

RoxyRoxy (or Roxie, if you’re a Broadway/Roxie Hart fan) is not used as often on babies as it is on pets, most likely because the full name Roxanne is rarely heard. However, Roxy would work just as well as a nickname for any of the Rose names, or even names like Aurora and Veronica.

Scout– All the buzz about To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman led to increased interest in the name Scout, which was first used by Demi Moore and Bruce Willis for their daughter in 1991, followed by a few other celebrities. This onetime dog name is now completely viable for a boy or girl baby.

Thor– People love to give their dogs slightly comical names, which is why you meet many a small dog named Thor. This is one that might be too powerful for a child, though it’s 364 on Nameberry and has been a Top 100 name in Norway. You might consider the variation Tor instead.

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 lives in Chicago.

View all of Sophie Kihm's articles


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