6 Dog Naming Tips: A Helpful Guide

Pick the perfect name for your new dog with these six tips. Be sure to consider the dog’s personality, breed, appearance, and more.

Dec 28, 2023byNatasha Elder
dog naming guide tips

Welcoming a new dog into your family is a wonderful experience. In between puppy-proofing, buying the necessities, and registering with your vet, you need to pick a name. Your dog will be stuck with this name for years to come, so it’s important to get it right. No pressure! With many options to choose from, it can get really overwhelming really quickly. But don’t worry; the tips you’re about to discover will guide you through the process. Are you ready to find the paw-fect name for your new dog?

1. Consider the Dog’s Personality

golden retriever smile grin tarmac
Image credit: Stephen Andrews on Unsplash

Before deciding on a name, consider your pup’s personality by spending a bit of time with them to get a feel of what they’re like. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with shortlisting some name options in advance if you have to wait to meet your newest family member, but it genuinely is a good idea to wait until you’ve gotten to know the dog a bit before confirming their name.

Are they playful and friendly, or calm, cuddly, and gentle? Allow your pet’s most prominent personality traits to dictate their name. If your dog is high-energy, a name like “Snoozer” or “Eeyore” might not work, as well as a name like “Zoom,” “Turbo,” or “Flash.” If your dog has no concept of personal space and demands lots of affection, a name like “Shadow” or “Snuggles” would work well. But if your dog prefers to be alone and is a little bit on the moodier side, “Ranger” or “Grumbles” would be a much better fit.

2. Take the Dog’s Breed into Account

corgi yorkshire terrier running outdoors
Image credit: Alvan Nee on Unsplash

Another great tip for naming your dog is to consider their breed. This alone could help you come up with a suitable name. Where does the breed originate from? How was it discovered or developed? What is the breed best known for? What are the typical traits of the breed? The answers to any of these questions could end up leading you to the perfect name for your pup.

For instance, due to their size alone, giant dog breeds are immediately suitable for names that make you think of strength, like “Zeus,” “Thor,” “Hulk,” “Brutus,” and “Maximus.” In the same vein, small dog breeds, like Chihuahuas, Corgis, and Dachshunds, wouldn’t be able to rock those names. Unironically, at least.

Is your dog a Weimaraner or a German Shepherd? Then a Germanic name like “Hans,” “Heidi,” “Fritz,” or “Otto” would work well. Is your dog a Basset Hound or a Great Pyrenees? Then why not consider a French name like “Chanel,” “Hugo,” “Bijoux,” or “Louis.”

3. Avoid Names That Sound Like Commands

teaching yorkie to sit dog training
Image credit: Petra from Pixabay

This next tip might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how often it is overlooked. It’s important to avoid names that sound similar to common dog commands. Whether you’re just going to stick to basic training or if you plan on teaching your dog tricks, you’ll want to make sure your dog can easily differentiate between its name and the command.

Names to avoid include names like:

  • “Kit,” “Biscuit,” and “Poppet” could be confused with the common “sit” command.
  • “Faye,” “Ray,” and “Gray” could be confused with the common “stay” command.
  • “Toff,” “Biscoff,” and “Hoff” could be confused with the common “off” command.

4. Think About the Dog’s Appearance

black dog walking leash
Image credit: Tucker Good on Unsplash

Think about your dog’s appearance. Do they have any distinctive physical characteristics that stand out? Taking inspiration from the way your dog looks is a fantastic way to name them. Consider all aspects of their physical appearance, and you’ll almost certainly come up with a name that suits them.

A very easy option is to name your dog after their coat. For example, if your dog is black, then names like “Raven,” “Onyx,” or “Shadow” will work well, while a white dog could be called “Snowy,” “Luna,” or “Casper.” A russet-colored dog would suit a name like “Ginger,” “Sienna,” or “Copper.” Coat aside, the color of the dog’s eyes could also inspire. Think “Sky” for blue eyes, “Honey” for gold eyes, or “Brownie” for brown eyes.

If your dog has any unique patterns or markings, you have even more options to consider. Depending on the specific markings, names like “Patches,” “Spot,” “Dotty,” or “Freckles” are great names. What does your dog’s body shape look like? Are they a muscular “Tank” or more of a slinky “Sausage”?

5. Make Sure the Name is Safe for Use in Public

dog hiding face with paws
Image credit: Angry Orange

When choosing a name for your dog, it’s important to remember that you’ll be using the name in public. Other people who interact with your dog, like vets or dog walkers, will have to say their name as well. This is why it’s important to choose a name that is safe for general audiences.

You should avoid calling your dog a name that is inappropriate, offensive, or embarrassing to yell out on the street or in a crowded park or hear your vet’s office call out loud. The fact is that your dog’s name will be spoken out loud more times than you can imagine, so you need to make sure that you – and those around you – won’t feel worried about saying the name aloud.

6. Have Fun with It

french bulldog eating banana sweater
Image credit: Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

Adopting a dog is a positive experience all around, and this should extend to the naming part. Naming your dog can be a fun and creative process, so don’t think you need to limit yourself to traditional dog names or stick to names that feel boring or outdated. Don’t be afraid to get a little playful!

Is there a particular cartoon you loved as a child? Who is your favorite celebrity? What is your favorite food? What was the weather like on the day you found out you were bringing home your dog for the first time? These are the kinds of questions you can ask yourself to come up with a fun and unique name.

You could also try combining different names, using nicknames, or inventing a whole new name that you love. Whatever you decide to do, have fun with it. Use the tips shared in this article to guide you, and let your gut, head, and heart take it from there.

Natasha Elder
byNatasha Elder

Natasha is a mother, a wife, a writer, and a serial cat owner. Though she is currently in mourning, her heart not ready for another feline family member just yet, she has always lived life with four paws beside her. She loves – you guessed it – cats, as well as creatures of the fluffy, scaly, and finned variety. Natasha longs to meet Sir David Attenborough one day and is passionate about responsible pet ownership