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The People-Pet Name Switcheroo

Rex, Roscoe and Roxy--baby or Beagle?

posted by: sophiekihm View all posts by this author

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.

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About the author

sophiekihm

Sophie is a graduate student at the University of Chicago. She loves helping people name things—whether it's their child, car, or pet fish. When she's not thinking about baby names, Sophie enjoys travel, fashion, and art and design.
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5 Responses to “The People-Pet Name Switcheroo”

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lesliemarion Says:

July 5th, 2016 at 11:25 pm

I see little difference between naming beloved children and beloved companion animals. Hell, I even named my lawnmower (Olivia) because she seemed to start better when I did and my cars of which I was fond (Owen, Tess, Althea June).

True, I wouldn’t name a child Fido or Spot, but then I wouldn’t name a dog those either.

In fact, I’d be much more apt to give animals and children great names and save something like Duke or Roscoe for… well, for someone else to choose.

littlepenelope Says:

July 6th, 2016 at 8:57 am

My 60-something yr old Oncologist has the first name of Roscoe, and I love it. He is sweet as can be. We considered Roscoe for our #2, but she ended up being a girl. 🙂

teacupsandtiaras Says:

July 6th, 2016 at 12:59 pm

I’ve always had “people” names for my pets: Martin, Nicholas, Rhett and Scarlett. But I’ve named computers, ipods, iphones, cars… all with “people” names!

Toronto87 Says:

July 7th, 2016 at 9:46 am

My two dogs came with names (adult rescues). The one downside to adopting animals instead of shopping for babies. The first dog name I will pick is probably going to be Fergus after the character in Outlander. Fitting given he was a very loyal subject.

Browneyes1701 Says:

July 7th, 2016 at 4:47 pm

We’ve had goats named Boomer and Coco!

Some of these, such as Murphy and Roscoe, I would consider human names frequently used for dogs rather than just dog names. From this list, I might use Coco ( despite the goat) but only as a nickname.

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