Great Names for Big Dogs
Big dogs need big names: names that mean large or great, names too dramatic or wild to use on a baby. Naming your large dog can be a chance to use one of those guilty pleasure names, a name that was just a bit too imposing to use on a baby, or a name that gives your pooch dignity and gravitas. Or you can spin things in the opposite direction and choose a name that means small. Here, major names for large dogs.
Description:Stella was derived from stella, the Latin word for "star." It was coined by Sir Philip Sidney in 1590 for the protagonist of his poem collection Astrophel and Stella. The title literally means "the star lover and his star," but unlike Stella, Astrophel did not catch on as a given name.
Origin:English and German diminutive of Maximilian or Maxwell
Description:Max was derived from Maximilian, a Latin name that originated from the Roman family name Maximus. The character name Max in the children's classic Where the Wild Things Are had an impact on baby namers. Max is a widely used name internationally.
Origin:Scandinavian from Latin
Description:Magnus is a Latin name, literally meaning “greatest,” that has a Scandinavian feel. It dates back to Charlemagne being called Carolus Magnus, or Charles the Great. Norwegian king Magnus I, named after Charlemagne, introduced it to his culture, and thus Magnus was the name of six early kings of Norway and four of Sweden. It is still a highly popular name in Denmark and Norway.
Origin:Feminine variation of William
Description:Willa has become increasingly fashionable, with its combination of Willa (born Wilella) Cather-like pioneer strength and the graceful beauty of the willow tree.
Origin:Greek, Italian, English
Description:We all heard it on Seinfeld as the long-concealed first name of Kramer, then considered a punchline. Now some pioneering parents are embracing this expansive Greek name, which makes a creative and cool choice for a baby. Influential celebrity couple Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost chose it for their son, born in 2021, which will likely drive Cosmo up in popularity. In the UK, it currently ranks within the Top 1000 boy names and is trending upwards.
Description:Beau suggests someone devilishly handsome, with a large measure of southern charm—a nice image to bestow on your boy. Often solely a nickname in the past, it's now standing firmly on its own. Beau has been on the Social Security list non-stop since 1969.
Origin:Surname or word name
Description:New to the US Top 1000 in 2015, Wilder is on many parents' possibility lists, one of the new generation of bad boy names growing in popularity. Wilder got a big boost in interest through Goldie Hawn's grandson, born in 2007, via son Oliver.
Meaning:"queen of the heavens"
Description:Juno is an ancient name that feels as fresh as if it had been minted — well, not yesterday, but in 2007. Since the release of the popular indie film Juno, this lively but strong o-ending Roman goddess name has become more and more prominent as a potential baby name — Coldplay's Will Champion chose Juno for one of his twins (whose brother is the kingly Rex).
Description:Bear has suddenly lumbered onto the baby name landscape. Perhaps inspired by British adventurer Bear Grylls (born Edward Michael), first celebrity chef Jamie Oliver used it as the middle name for his boy Buddy, and more recently Alicia Silverstone called her son Bear Blu., followed by Kate Winslet's Bear Blaize. It's part of a current trend normalizing once aggressive animal names like Wolf and Fox. Bear is now Number 218 on Nameberry and in the Top 900 in England.
Origin:Latin, meaning unknown, possibly "title of honour"
Meaning:"title of honour"
Description:Titus, once seen as a slightly forbidding Roman, New Testament, and Shakespearean name, was brought back to contemporary life in the USA by the TV series Titus 2000, increasing in popularity along with other revived ancient names like Linus and Silas.
Origin:Greek mythology name
Description:With mythological names rising, the handsome son of Zeus and god of medicine, music, and poetry among many other things might offer an interesting, if high-pressure, option. But if Romeo and Venus are now deemed baby-appropriate, why not Apollo? Olympic speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno might inspire some parents. And now that it's been chosen by Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale, it could take off as their first son's name—Kingston—has.
Description:Rufus is a rumpled, redheaded (it was the nickname for red-haired King William) ancient Roman name popular with saints and singers (e.g. Rufus Wainwright); now, Rufus is on the cutting edge of cool.
Origin:Variation of Óðinn, Old Norse
Meaning:"god of frenzy; poetic fury"
Description:Odin is the name of the supreme Norse god of art, culture, wisdom, and law — who was handsome, charming, and eloquent into the bargain. The name projects a good measure of strength and power and has excellent assimilation potential.
Description:Wilbur is a stylish name in the UK whose merits are just starting to be discovered in the US. Wilbur, the loveable pig who Charlotte of the Web called Some Pig, is an inspirational hero. And Wilbur and Orville Wright were early aviationists.
Description:Scout, a character nickname from To Kill a Mockingbird (her real name was Jean Louise), became a real-life possibility when Bruce Willis and Demi Moore used it for their now grown middle daughter, followed by Tom Berenger a few years later. A unisex choice that is growing in popularity for both genders -- but given to girls about four times more often than to boys -- it was picked by skater Tai Babilonia for her son and Kerri Walsh for her daughter Scout Margery.
Description:Now that many dogs are named Max, it's safe to use this sleek, solid, regal name again for your child. And with the charm of its final x, its regal meaning, and its offbeat simplicity, Rex is definitely one to consider.
Description:Long associated with the Churchill family and common in the West Indies, the distinguished Winston has tended to be neglected here. The exception was during the World War II period, when Winston Churchill was a towering figure and his name reached Number 234. It's now enjoying something of a renaissance.
Description:The jazzy, ultra-cool Dexter, like most names with an "x," has a lot of energy and dynamism. Over the years, it's been attached to a number of diverse real and fictional personalities—C. K. Dexter Haven, the witty Cary Grant character in The Philadelphia Story; Dexter Green, the protagonist of the F. Scott Fitzgerald story "Winter Dreams"; great jazz tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon; the boy-genius protagonist of cartoon Dexter's Laboratory; and the most recent TV series Dexter based on the books by Jeff Lindsay, whose lead happens to be a genial but sociopathic serial killer.
Origin:Diminutive of Isabella, Italian
Description:Bella derived as a diminutive of Isabella and other names with the suffix -bella. While Isabella is a variation of Elizabeth and thus means "God is my oath," Bella is considered to mean "beautiful." This is because Bella is related to the word for "beautiful" in languages including Spanish, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, and Greek, as well as the name Belle, which means "beautiful" in French.
Origin:German, diminutive of Siegfried and Sigmund
Description:The ultimate nicknamey name, à la Ziggy Stardust or the comic-strip character Ziggy. Then again, there's Ziggy Marley, and most anything Marley is cool. Originally named David, his father Bob Marley gave him the nickname "Ziggy" due to the soccer move of the same name.
Description:Ryder, one of the current favorite er-ending boys’ names, has been in the spotlight since Kate Hudson and her rocker husband Chris Robinson chose it for their son in 2004. Very popular in several provinces of Canada, Ryder was chosen by John Leguzamo for his son and adorns Boy Meets World star Ryder Strong.
Meaning:"fortress, walled town,"
Description:Chester is a comfortable, little-used teddy-bear of a name that suddenly sounds both quirky and cuddly.
Origin:Spanish and French pet name
Description:Coco came to prominence as the nickname of the legendary French designer Chanel (born Gabrielle) and has lately become a starbaby favorite, initially chosen by Courteney Cox for her daughter Coco Riley in 2004. At first it was the kind of name that the press loves to ridicule, but we predict Coco's heading for more broad acceptance and even popularity.
Description:King is a name that sends a mixed message. While some might think of it as more fitting for a canine, others see it as a strong name with offbeat style and a full court of rich associations, from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Elvis.
King Vidor was an important early Hollywood director; King Camp Gillette invented the safety razor.
If it's king names you're after that aren't King itself, see our list of Names with Royal Meanings or other lists and blogs on royal names.
Origin:Latin from Greek
Description:Yes, it's the name of the brightest star in the sky, but can't you just hear people saying, "Are you serious?" Singer Erykah Badu used it as a middle name for son Seven.
Meaning:"son of Madoc"
Description:Maddox, a previously obscure Welsh family name with a powerfully masculine image, suddenly came into the spotlight when Angelina Jolie chose it for her son in 2003. By the following year it was in the middle of the Top 1000, and it has risen since.
Origin:Italian from German
Description:Madonna did much to polish up the image of this old-neighborhood Italian choice when she picked it for her son with British director Guy Ritchie, and several years later it was also used by Rose Byrne and Bobby Canavale for their son. It now feels much more mainstream than many celebrity baby names, sharing the quirky appeal of some other so-far-out-they're-in baby names as Bruno and Hugo.
Description:Leonidas is an ancient name that has started rising again along with centuries-old names such as Augustus and Cato. The original Leonidas was the most famous of Sparta's warriors, sacrificing his life at the Battle of Thermopylae; there is also a saint Leonidas.
Origin:French literary nickname
Description:Cosette is best known as the heroine of Les Miserables. In the Victor Hugo novel, Cosette was the nickname given to the girl named Euphrasie by her mother. Although Hugo invented the name, some etymologists believe it's a spin on Colette, originally a female short form of Nicolas.
Meaning:"exaltation or little dwelling"
Description:An Old Testament name with a Puritan feel and post-Zachary possibilities--one of several routes to the cool nickname Zeb.
Origin:Diminutive of Louise or Lucy, or Arabic
Description:Lula has a firecracker personality, a singing and dancing extrovert. Interesting that Lulu was a Top 100 name when the Social Security list was born in 1880, but it's been sliding ever since and has not been in the Top 1000 for decades. Modern parents in love with Lulu might well reverse that trend.
Description:The association with the infamous Nero, the fiddling Roman emperor, would be unavoidable. But there was also the detective Nero Wolfe, hero of many mystery stories.
Origin:English word name
Description:Originally a form of the saint's name Blaise, though now more likely to be a hot word name used for both sexes, though heavily weighted toward the boys. It has been in the boys' Top 1000 since the year 2000.
br>On the pop culture side of things, Blaze Bayley is a singer and musician who has been connected to the bands Wolfsbane and Iron Maiden.
Description:Blue suddenly came into the spotlight, as the unusual color name chosen by Beyonce and Jay-Z for their baby girl Blue Ivy. Blue is also a starbaby middle name du jour, used for both sexes in different spellings and forms, from John Travolta and Kelly Preston's Ella Bleu to Alicia Silverstone's Bear Blu. Dave 'The Edge' Evans named his daughter Blue Angel back in 1989.
Origin:English tree name
Meaning:"tree from the genus Quercus"
Description:Oak, a symbol of solidity, strength, and longevity, is joining Cedar and Pine as a viable name, one that would work especially well in the middle.
Meaning:"the long field"
Description:Once a macho biker name, Harley is now showing its softer side. In the UK, Harley is predominantly masculine, but it's currently more popular for girls than boys in the US.
Description:Humphrey is an old name that might have faded completely were it not for that Bogie flair. A royal name in Britain, where it's used somewhat more frequently, Humphrey might just have some life beyond Bogart here, especially with the recent interest in the names of Golden Age Hollywood stars. His first name was the maiden name of his mother, Maud Humphrey, a well-known illustrator who used baby H. as a model.
Description:As this long-term Age of Jordans, both male and female, begins to wind down, the neglected Scottish favorite Gordon, with its more distinguished history, could come back as a distinctive alternative. Gordon is one of the most classic authentically Scottish names for boys.
Origin:Greek mythology name
Description:The supreme Olympian god represents a mighty image for a little fella to live up to, but more and more parents are beginning to consider it seriously. The Roman equivalent Jupiter has also come down to earth. And Zeus wasn't just the supreme god, he was also the god of the sky, thunder, lightning, and fate, among other weighty responsibilities.
Description:The Annie Oakley connection makes this a bit more girl-appropriate. Oakley has the dubious honor of belonging to the 'brand' names baby club- after the Oakley sunglasses. This name made it into the Top 1000 for the first time in 2013, one of only four girl names starting with O to rank that high. We're definitely keeping an eye on this chart-climbing choice.
Meaning:"mouth of the Roe river"
Description:Monroe is a presidential name which, thanks to the immortal beauty of Marilyn Monroe, is catching on fast for baby girls. Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon chose it for their twin daughter, honoring Marilyn Monroe. Their use of Monroe as a girls’ name did much to revive this Old Man name, a la Sydney, as a newly fashionable choice for girls.
Description:Jupiter's partner Juno has entered the mainstream, so it's possible that her divine mate could follow. But not necessarily for boys — Jupiter is over 75% female, thanks to its similarity to Juniper. Actress Ashley Tisdale welcomed a daughter named Jupiter Iris in 2021, which could shift the balance even more towards the girls.
Description:The fierce image of the Barbarian made a complete turnaround thanks to amiable talk show host O'Brien, making Conan one of the newly desirable Irish choices, a perfect alternative to Conor/Connor.
Origin:English, nickname name
Description:Until recently it was rarely used as a proper name; Buddy Holly, for example, was christened Charles, and Salinger's Buddy Glass was born Webb. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver did name his fourth child Buddy Bear Maurice--a fittingly named brother to Poppy Honey Rosie, Daisy Boo Pamela and Petal Blossom Rainbow, and singer Tom Fletcher has a double-nicknamed Buddy Bob.
Origin:Spelling variation of Leya
Description:This spelling variation of Leya was popularized by the Star Wars films, but is still firmly in the US Top 1000 many years later. This spelling is also probably preferred as it is clearer in pronunciation to the original Hindi name, Leya (which sometime gets pronounced Lee-ah).
Origin:English, meaning unknown
Description:Associated for half a century with Marlon Brando, who inherited the French-inflected name from his father, Marlon has been especially well used by African-Americans, including the Jackson and Wayans families. Though heard much less now than it was in the seventies, this could change as parents look to the names of old Hollywood stars.
Meaning:"town by the ditch"
Description:Digby is a place-name in Lincolnshire turned surname turned quirky first name that is starting to get some attention.
Origin:English rank of nobility
Description:While John Wayne and Duke Ellington are worthy role models, the reason Duke is currently enjoying a revival and returned to the Top 1000 in 2013 as one of the year's fastest-rising boys’ names is more likely due to the name given to high-profile TV couple Giuliana and Bill Rancic. Christened Edward Duke, he has always been called by his middle name, just as Edward Duke Ellington was. Duke is just one of several aristocratic titles being increasingly used by ordinary citizens.
Description:Originally a unisex nickname for a redhead -- red hair is called "ginger" in Britain -- or for the name Virginia, Ginger perennially wears pink gingham and spike heels.
Origin:English occupational name
Description:An x makes any name cooler, so that Baxter has a bit more pizzazz than the original Baker. Baxter had some currency as a first name a century ago--it was on the popularity lists sporadically from 1880 till the 1920s, peaking at Number 515 in 1886-- which means it's just about due for a comeback. And we can see Bax as a worthy follow-up to Max and Jax.