What Dog Breeds Are Named After People?

Many dogs (looking at you Italian Greyhound) are named for their country of origin. But did you know some dog breeds are named after people?

Dec 17, 2023By Thalia Oosthuizen
what dog breeds are named after people

There are countless dog breeds all over the world, all with different and unique names. Some breeds have straightforward monikers, but there are others that may make you wonder, “Where did they get that name from?”

Well, as it turns out, a lot of dog breeds are actually named after people. Many dogs are named for the first person who bred them. Others are named for famous people who owned them. Let’s learn more!

Saint Bernard

saint bernard in snow
Image Credit: Pexels

Saint Bernards are known as the original working dogs of the Alpines and are believed to have started appearing in the 18th century. Saint Bernards are tall, powerful, and protective dogs with a combination of white, brown, and black fur.

In 1050, a monk named Bernard of Menthon founded a hospice to aid pilgrims who were traveling in snowy conditions to Rome through the Alps. Trouble started arising when travelers would become trapped in the deep snow and avalanches, but the monk had a great solution.

He bred two types of Molosser dogs (mastiffs) to produce what we now know as the Saint Bernard. These dogs were able to trace and rescue victims of avalanches through their impeccable smell. This breed was then, you guessed it, named after Bernard of Menthon.

Doberman Pinscher

doberman in the grass
Image Credit: Pexels

Dobermans are a German breed defined by their long heads and muscular bodies. They have short, shiny, and sleek coats and can be black, brown, red, or gray. Dobermans are known to be alert and confident and are also one of the fastest dog breeds.

The story behind this breed's name is quite fascinating. In late 1800s Germany, this working dog was developed by a man named Karl Friedrich Louis Doberman. As well as a dog breeder, Karl was also a tax collector.

Having to sometimes enter risky areas to conduct business, he needed a dog that would protect him. He crossed a variety of short-haired breeds, including Rottweilers, Terriers, Greyhounds, and Weimaraners, to produce a dog that would protect him from thieves.

Jack Russell Terrier

jack russell terrier
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Jack Russell Terriers are a small British breed of dog, sporting mixed with brown, white, and sometimes black coats. This small but lovable breed originated in the early 1800s, but who were they named after?

In the mid-1800s, there was an avid dog breeder named Reverend John “Jack” Russell. Although it isn’t known what breeds were mixed to produce Jack Russells, it’s theorized that Beagles and Bull Terriers were involved.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

charles caviler spaniel
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Cavaliers are another small British breed of dog with four recognized colors: Blenheim (red and white), tricolor, black and tan, and ruby. They are most notable for their long Dumbo-like ears and their reputation for being a quiet dog breed.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels originated in England in the 1600s, sometimes called the “English Toy Spaniel.” They were mixed with various Spaniels and, in the 17th century, were owned by King Charles I. It is joked that his family cared more about breeding this dog than ruling Britain. Due to their love of Cavaliers, they were soon given the King Charles name.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier

dandy dinmont terrier
Image Credit: Love to Know Pets

This small Scottish breed is part of the Terrier family and is loved for the top knot of hair on their heads. Dandies have long, low torsos, short legs, and sport white or gray double coats. Where do these adorable canines get their name from? Let’s find out.

This Terrier’s name originates from a slightly different place–a book character. The 1815 novel “Guy Mannering” by Walter Scott featured a character with a dog named Dandie Dinmont. It’s theorized that the author loosely based the character on the man who had, by this point, started breeding this type of terrier. When the breeder found out, he thought it was only right to name them after the fictional dog character.

Plott Hound

plott hound
Image Credit: Be Chewy

Plott Hounds are a beautiful mix of Bloodhounds and Mountain Curs, defined by their athletic, muscular, and agile medium build. Their coats can be various mixes of brindle, giving this breed a stripe-like appearance.

In 1750, a man named Johannes George Plott immigrated from Germany to the U.S. and took five Hanover dogs with him. Plott trained the hounds to hunt bears and continued to breed them until the lovable Plott Hound was eventually developed. This breed is still very rare, often owned for hunting purposes.

Gordon Setter

gordon setter
Image Credit: The Spruce Pets

Gordon Setters are a large breed of dog with glistening silky coats, along with long hair on their ears, tummy, legs, chest, and tail. This breed is only found in one color: a coal-black coat and spots of brown around their eyes, mouth, chest, and paws. They look like a bigger version of a Cavalier Spaniel.

Originally bred in the 17th century at Gordon Castle, this breed is named after the fourth and sixth dukes of Gordon. The fourth duke started breeding this dog to assist with hunting, and then the sixth would go on to maintain the appearance and behavior that we see now in Gordon Setters.

Saarloos Wolfhound

Image Credit: Animal Corner

This incredible wolf-dog breed originated in the Netherlands, mixing a German Shepherd and a Siberian Husky. Saarloos dogs have a mix of both their parent breeds features, with the legs, eyes, and ears of a German Shepherd and the build and coat of a Siberian Husky. So, we know they originated in the Netherlands, but where did their interesting name come from?

Saarloos Wolfhounds were one of many breeds produced by dog breeder Leendert Saarloos, mixing a German Shepherd and Eurasian gray wolf together. It’s unclear what his intentions were with breeding this dog, but the dog continued to be bred after Saarloos’ death and soon became the Wolfhound we love today.

Dogs Named for People: Fascinating!

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

With so many dog breeds, isn’t it fascinating to learn where their names originated from? If you own one of these breeds, maybe you’ve learned a little more about why they were bred and where your canine companion originated from.

Thalia Oosthuizen
By Thalia Oosthuizen

Thalia has been a freelance writer for over a decade and a dog (and animal) lover for over 30 years. She grew up on a farm where, at one stage, she had 15 dogs. She currently has one dog, Avery - an adorable pavement special with an extra toe on each foot, and two rescue cats - Boris and Mango. In her spare time, Thalia enjoys running, cycling, swimming, and reading