What’s in a name?

Jan 05, 2024


What’s in a name?


How we choose our dogs name can be a daunting task, my brother takes AN AGE to choose for his! (Just to get the absolute right one of course).


Our Dogs


We went for Scottish Gaelic-ish with Calaidh & Bhruic (Short in Gaelic for Caledonia and Badger) and for Freya we wanted something to signify her struggles as a pup and her strength to fight and live so we went for Freya. 

She is our Goddess of Love and Beauty, the Tearful Collie, Mistress of Seidr (probably), the Vanadis, Owner of the Brísingamen collar, Patroness of ‘woo woos’ and ‘coories’, and Leader of the Valkyries (the other two Collies).

She has lived up to her Norse namesake. Did us choosing that name have anything to do with her surviving her early weeks, months, and years? Probably not, but who knows?

 And now Khaleesi has joined us, for those of you who know her story (and if you watch the telly), you’ll know that Khaleesi is,

‘The first of Her Name, my Queen of Spain and our home, Protector of the Family Realm, the Mother of three (BC’s), the Khaleesi of the Great Back Garden, the Unchewed, the Breaker of Chains’, and she not only exemplifies her Sobriquets strength to survive (in the TV show) but also the boundless happiness and energy she infuses into our daily life.


But HOW do we choose?


As I’ve shown with our choices, dog names often reflect many factors, including cultural trends, personal preferences, and the characteristics of the dog itself.


Here’s a few:


Cultural, pop culture and Societal Trends


Dog or indeed pet names can be influenced by popular culture. Names from movies, TV shows, books, and even famous celebrities can become popular for dogs. As a kid (and big comic book fan) I had a Hamster called ‘Steve’, a cyber clap for anyone who can guess why.


Personal Preferences and Experiences


Many people choose names based on their personal interests or experiences. For example, a music lover might name their dog after a favourite musician or song. I even had a client who named their dog after their favourite Architect. The name escapes me but I was impressed. And next doors cat is called Bruce (Springstein).


Physical and Personality Traits of the Dog


The dog's appearance or personality can influence the choice of name. When I was younger, we had a dog called ‘Patch’, well, because she had a patch of colour on her side.


Ease of Use


Shorter, easier to pronounce names can be easier for dogs to recognise and for owners to use, especially in training. A comical and pop culture name like ‘Princess Consuela Banana Hammock’ will be more difficult to use when teaching recall, and a little embarrassing calling that out in the park. Another cyber clap if you guess where that’s from.


What the name sounds like


Research has discovered that dogs respond better to certain sounds, something we see daily IF, like me use shorter nicknames for your dog you’ll have noticed this.

Names with hard consonants and long vowels can be easier for dogs to distinguish and may grab their attention better.


Cultural Reasons


Some cultures can have more traditional ways of naming animals which can influence dog names, like choosing names that suggest the dog's role or heritage (like "Hunter") or spiritual beliefs (like “Bodhi”). I’ve known both.


Anthropomorphising or the Humanisation of Pets


Pets are increasingly and quite rightly so seen as family members, some people give them human names, my first dog when I was a very young kid was called “Darren”.


Scientific Factors


Studies in linguistics and animal behaviour suggest that dogs respond better to word they can perceive and respond to more easily. This would apply to commands or cues to but that’s another article altogether.



Sometimes and maybe the more obvious answer is there isn’t an exact science to this…

we just like the name.