Dos and don’ts for naming your dog

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Naming your dog can be fun, creative and frustrating — all at the same time!

The name you pick will shape how other people see your dog and even what parts of his or her personality standout in your own mind. Baby-name books or top 10 (or 25, 50 or 100) most popular dog names lists can help, but in the end, we’re all looking for that perfect name that shows your dog’s unique coolness.

Here are some suggestions to inspire your imagination — and some things you’ll want to avoid:

Sometimes the perfect name just jumps to mind. Or you’ll pick a great name and realize it just doesn’t fit the dog. Human names for dogs have been the trend for several decades, but the options are limitless. Here are some avenues — for both human and non-human names — that may help:

Inspiration for naming your dog

To give your dog an unusual non-human name, consider something from these categories:

  • Food: Cookie, Nacho, Sushi or Macaroni, for example.
  • Disposition: Happy, Rascal or Bandit.
  • Color: Sandy, Midnight or Red.
  • Your occupation: Bones for a doctor; Nolo or Escrow for a lawyer; Write-off, Ledger or Debit for an accountant.
  • Places: Texas, Paris, Nome, Sahara or Quito.
  • Nature: Sky, Acorn, Breeze, Rowan, Tide or Storm.
  • Astronomy and space: Comet, Rocket, Mars or Nebula
  • Herbs, spices or condiments: Basil, Cinnamon, Chili, Ginger, Pepper, Paprika, Sorrel, Wasabi or Salsa.
  • Games or sports: Deuce, Scrabble, Boggle, Clue, Domino, Twister or Trump.

Sources for unusual names

If you’d like to give your dog a human name, but don’t want something that’s been used so often it’s hit the top 10 list, try selecting something from ones of these groups:

  • Mythology: Zeus, Apollo, Athena, Hoori, Juno, Luna or Kali.
  • Athletes: Shaq, Kareem, Babe, Gretzky, DiMaggio, Foyt, Bird, Satchel or Spitz.
  • Book Characters: Huck, Emma, Darcy, Sherlock, Moby, Gatsby, Crusoe, Jeeves, Pip or Seuss.
  • Musicals: Gypsy, Annie, Tuptim, Doolittle, Higgins, Roxie, Jake, Gigi, Ko-Ko or Yum-Yum.
  • Comics and cartoons: Blondie, Rocky, Boris, Natasha, Yogi, Tweety, Sylvester, Gumby, Jetson, Pebbles or Magoo

Names to avoid

As you go about naming your dog, you should avoid names that:

  • You can’t comfortably yell across a dog park. “Itsy Bitsy Kissy Face” is not only long, it’s embarrassing. Just. Don’t. Do. It.
  • Might be confused with a command.  For example, I had a Chinese friend. Why not name Fido “dog” in Chinese? The Chinese word for dog is “go.” Yelling at your dog Go when you want him to come, or telling Go to go to bed gets messy.
  • Belongs to a living person without their permission. People of a certain age or culture might be insulted by this. People who haven’t had the pleasure of bonding with a dog don’t always take it as a tribute.
  • Demean the dog or emphasize a bad quality. Fido was named “Dopey” at the L.A. City animal shelter where he waited for adoption. He wasan intelligent dog. The name made him seem undesirable to people seeking to adopt. Names like Killer, Brutus,  Monster or Yapper don’t do a dog any favors either.

Check out some recent trends for naming your dog.