Is My Dog’s Name More Dog or Human? Human Names for Dogs · The Wildest

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Is My Dog’s Name More Dog or Human?

Don’t be surprised if you see your dog’s moniker in a book of baby names.

by Savannah Admire
March 4, 2024
Young man squatting near his golden labrador dog.
SG SHOT / Shutterstock

Gone are the days of giving your dog a stereotypical name like Fido (did anyone ever really name their dog Fido?) or Rover. Now, you’re far more likely to encounter human-sounding names at the dog park, like Bailey, Lucy, or Charlie. Maybe even Barbie!

Some names tend to be more commonly “human,” and some names are just for pets. But these days, there are more names than ever in the overlapping category of human and dog. While dogs are more likely to answer to nicknames like Billie, Bobby, and Jack, it’s no longer surprising to hear names for dogs that sound like they came from the pages of a baby name book. In fact, some of the most popular dog names are also the most popular baby names, so the roster of your local preschool and doggie daycare may look surprisingly similar. 

Dog names can be fun or goofy (hello, Cheddar) or deeply meaningful to pet parents. And the shifting popularity of certain types of names can even reflect larger societal norms. Some dogs end up with human names because they are, in fact, named after a specific person, whether a family member, celebrity, or beloved character from pop culture (why not name your dog after a minor ?). And shelters and rescue organizations often name adoptable dogs in batches, following a trend like names starting with the same letter or Taylor Swift’s NFL-star boyfriend.

So, does your dog’s name fall on the side of canine monikers or could your pup’s name be mistaken for that of a human?

What makes a name a “human” name?

“Human” names are stereotypically given only to humans. Think Kevin, Carol, or Derek. Now, try to imagine a dog with one of those names. It doesn’t fit quite right (no offense to any dogs named Kevin out there). But “human” names are gradually becoming more popular for dogs, which could be indicative of how pet parents tend to treat their pups like genuine members of the family, erasing the distinction between a dog name or human name. 

The most popular “human” names for dogs

Many of the most popular dog names are “human” names. Dog names that sound human tend to be either very modern (like Riley) or more old-fashioned (like Ruby). 

Far and away the most popular dog name, accounting for 5 percent of U.S. dogs, Bella is likely inspired by the main character in the Twilight series and Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter. But can you really blame pet parents for wanting to yell, “ Bella, where the hell have you been, loca?” at the dog park?

Other popular “human” names for dogs include: 

  • Luna

  • Daisy

  • Charlie

  • Lucy

  • Bailey

  • Cooper

  • Lily

  • Zoe

  • Sadie

Luna and Charlie also have potential origins in Twilight and Harry Potter, which reveals the staying power of fandom. All of these popular “human” boy and girl dog names trip lightly off the tongue, making them easy to call — and not at all embarrassing to reveal to the vet. 

What makes a name a “dog” name?

Most common dog names don’t end up on birth certificates for human babies, though some may be nicknames. Names like Lucky, Skip, or Butch tend to be more associated with dogs. These names are often short and sweet, making them easy for dogs to learn and recognize. 

The most popular “dog” names

Even with “human” names becoming more common, some of the most popular dog names still fall under the stereotypical “dog” category. While a name like Max could fit a human as well as a dog, it still remains one of the more popular boy dog names. Other examples of popular “dog” names include:

  • Coco

  • Buddy

  • Milo

  • Bear

  • Teddy

  • Duke

Ironically, Milo is often better known as a cat name, thanks to the classic kids’ movie The Adventures of Milo and Otis, but this moniker has steadily climbed the ranks as a favorite dog name. Buddy remains a classic, whether pet parents are naming their dog after Will Ferrell’s charming elf or simply recognizing the comfort of a canine friend. 

Are “human” names for dogs becoming more popular?

These days, you’re more likely to hear human-sounding names, like Molly or Jack, around your neighborhood. If you’re surrounded by kids and dogs, you may wonder whether the person next to you is calling a dog or human name. 

Baby name books may be just as inspiring to pet parents as they are for human ones, which isn’t surprising, because younger generations often treat their pets more like children. Just another sign that our dogs are more than just pets — they’re beloved companions and family members. 

How do I pick the right name for my dog? 

The best name for a dog is one they can learn to recognize, so shorter names (usually one or two syllables) are often best. Fortunately, many “human” and “dog” names fall in this category, though some longer names may require a nickname for daily use. So, if you’re dead set on giving your pup a heavy name like Persephone, you may want to consider a cute nickname like Percy or Posie. 

When looking for good dog names, keep in mind that you’ll have to say the name out loud frequently — to your vet, to friends and family, to strangers at the park. A name might be fun at first but can quickly become embarrassing or even frustrating if you have to explain it again and again. Choose a name that rolls off the tongue and that suits your sweet pup. And make sure to steer clear of names that can easily be confused with commands, like Kit, which rhymes with “sit” or May, which is a little too close to “stay.” 

FAQs (People also ask):

What are the most popular dog names?

Some of the most popular dog names are Charlie, Max, Bella, Luna, Buddy, Teddy, Milo, and Duke. So, if you pride yourself on originality, you may want to steer clear of these names and look for something a little more unique

What are the worst names for dogs? 

The worst names for dogs are those that are inappropriate, offensive, or just plain not OK, whether racist or just downright rude. You should also stay away from stereotypically “tough” names for breeds that already get a bad rap (like Pit Bulls and Rottweilers), such as Killer or Brute. 

Does my dog know my name? 

Dogs can learn to recognize not only their human parent’s name, but the names of other people and animals in the household. If your dog doesn’t seem to know your name, you can even teach them to recognize it


Savannah Admire

Savannah Admire is a writer, editor, and pet parent to two dogs and a cat. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, playing Animal Crossing, or being an obnoxious nerd about her favorite movies and TV shows. She lives in Maryland, where she constantly debates whether or not to get a third dog.

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