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What do you call your dog? April 9, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in pets, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. As readers of Poor Richard’s Almanac know, our friend Ben and I love our black German shepherd, Pioneer Hawk’s Haven Shiloh von Shiloh Special. Over the course of two lifetimes of pets of every type and stripe, we’ve learned a thing or two about naming pets. One thing, obviously, is to enjoy being creative while coming up with a pet’s formal name but to keep the call name to a simple, easy-to-say two-syllable name like “Shiloh.”

It’s also good to make sure the name is something you’d want to shout in public. Linus Theodore Aquinas, our friend Ben’s first parakeet, and Kissie, the name my sister gave our family’s first cocker spaniel, are not good choices in this respect. (The poor parakeet, which proved so long-lived that it accompanied OFB to college, was simply referred to in his family as Bird.)

PR is also important in our lawsuit-happy times. Fond as we are of the idea of the faithful dog defending the family and family home, names like Killer, Butcher, Jaws, Godzilla, Chopper and the like are not especially wise. And old-time favorite descriptors like Blackie, Spot, Tiny, Bullseye, Hero, Lurker (describing the dog’s breed work, not its personality), Fella, Muttsy, and so on are unlikely to win favor in these very different times, when more often than not, dogs really are considered part of the family, not hangers-on confined to a doghouse in the backyard.  

I’d thought OFB and I saw eye-to-eye on the dog-name situation until a few nights ago, when I had a dog-related dream. I dreamt that our vet’s office called to tell me that they had a young male German shepherd named Sherman whose owner had died. Sherman was well trained and very much in need of a loving home. Would we want to take him? Well, of course we would, assuming he got along well with Shiloh and the cats. But not with that awful name.

The next morning, I related the dream to our friend Ben. And then I said, “I was thinking of calling him T. Rex.”

“T. Rex?!!!!” OFB looked at me as though I’d lost my mind.

“Well, of course, Ben. We both love fossils, after all, and just think how many German shepherds have been called Rex. Why not T. Rex?”

“T. Rex!” OFB looked even more appalled by the thought of my suggested name than by the prospect of adding a new (fictional) dog to Hawk’s Haven, our tiny cottage home. “What on earth would you call him, Mr. T.?!”

“I was thinking of calling him T. Rex,” I replied.

“Well, you said his original name was Sherman. And he’s a German shepherd. So how about Sherman the German?”

“Nothing named Sherman is ever setting foot in this house.”

“But, Silence—”

“Ben! Why are you arguing with me about the name of a hypothetical dog?! It was my dream, so I get to name the dog, and his name is T. Rex!”  

OFB stomped off, and I’d swear I heard him muttering something like “What about Booga-Wooga?” as he left the room.

Sheesh. Thinking about this later, I wondered what real people were naming their real dogs. What dog names were coming out on top? Thanks to my good friend Google, I was sure I could find out.

Apparently, if your dog is a male, you’re most likely to name him Max, followed by Bailey, Buddy, Jake, and Rocky, at least according to stats submitted by the Veterinary Pet Insurance company based on policyholder registrations. If your dog’s a girl, you’ll most likely call her Molly, Maggie, Lucy, Daisy, or Bella. Sadie, Sophie, Chloe, Ginger, Emma, and Sasha are also high on the list of girl-dog names, while males are sporting call names like Cody, Charlie, Duke, Sam, Harley, and Oliver. (Interesting that Marley didn’t make the boy-pup list, but Gizmo did.)

The Dogtime website even breaks the popular dog names down by breed. For German shepherds, the top ten names are: Franz, Zeppo, Winston, Duke, Annika, Heidi, Paz, Sasha, Thor, and Jackson. Franz?! Unless their last name is Ferdinand, why? Zeppo? Have German shepherds joined the Marx Brothers?! Winston and Paz seem a bit confused, country-wise. Friends and neighbors already have dogs named Duke and Jackson, so they’re definitely out. I like Thor, but it’s a bit too Conan the Barbarian for everyday use. And I love Sasha, but my best friend’s son is named that, so it’s also out as a dog name. Ditto my friend Heidi. Annika’s a lovely name, but it’s three syllables, and hard experience has taught us that two syllables are best for pet call names.

T. Rex. That’s just about right.

            ‘Til next time,




1. Christine - April 9, 2011

Dexter! My Rottweilers name.

PS: Very entertaining post …

Dexter’s a good one, Christine, and thanks! Perhaps T. Rex would eventually be known as The Rexter!

2. Mike - June 11, 2012

Our Irish Setter we called Rufus, Our lovely Chocolate Labrador bitch we recently lost, was called Biscuit, and the new chocolate pup we are picking up in 2 weeks will be called Polly.

Rufus is such a great name for a red dog, Mike! We also had a Rufus growing up (technically William Rufus, after the Conqueror’s unfortunate son). Biscuit is a delightful name as well. I’d be tempted to name your new pup Polly Biscotti in her honor. I wish you a long and happy life with Polly!

Mike - December 21, 2012

Thanks, Polly is now almost 8 months old, chews everything when she`s not cadging food, and is already taller than Biscuit. I like Polly Biscotti though.

Ha! Oh dear, Mike! I hope she doesn’t eat rugs, blankets and woodwork like our Shiloh when she was that age. We still haven’t gotten a presentable rug for the living room for fear she’ll take a bite out of it!

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