Following my recent article entitled "The art and science of naming a dog" I received a number of queries from readers asking me about what the most popular dog names were. When I started to check several different online resources, it became clear that there were some differences depending upon geographical location. Therefore I decided it might be best to compile a composite list which would include the most popular dog names used by English speakers.
The task turned out to be a bit more complex than I had expected. I managed to find a number of lists from the United States, several from the United Kingdom, two from English speaking Canada and two from Australia. The lists came from a number of sources: rescue and adoption agencies, dog tag registrations, animal hospitals and pet supply manufacturer's surveys. I limited myself to lists published in the last two years since I suspect that there are annual trends in naming dogs in much the same way that there are annual trends in the naming of human babies.
The remarkable thing was the degree of overlap among the lists, especially in the top 20 or so most popular names. Thus Max, Jake and Buddy appear in the top 20 male names on virtually every list I looked at, while the same held true for the female names Molly, Bella and Maggie. However there were local differences so in the end I averaged the ranks across the nearly two dozen lists that I consulted in order to develop what might be a somewhat definitive list of the 50 most popular names for male dogs and the 50 most popular names for female dogs, at least at this point in time.
There were some surprises, in that the traditional names used to refer to dogs generically, such as Rover, Fido, Bowser, or Lassie appeared nowhere on my top 50 list. In addition some names associated with animals in the media, such as the fictional dogs Snoopy, Marley, or Beethoven don't seem to have achieved enough popularity to make it to the ranks of most popular canine names. An interesting quirk, here, is that the name "Snoopy" does appear on the most popular name list for cats!
There is one group of dog names often seen in the news which do make the lists of most popular. These are the names of dogs owned by U.S. presidents. Thus we find current President Barack Obama's dog Bo (with its alternate spelling Beau), former President George W. Bush's dog Barney, his predecessor President Bill Clinton's dog Buddy, and his predecessor President George Bush's dog Millie, do have their names in the lists of the most popular names. However it is difficult to know whether these dog names are popular because they are associated with such high ranking and famous people, or whether these presidential dogs were given their names because they were familiar and popular and might make their politically powerful owners seem to have more in common with their citizens who might have pets with the same well-liked and down-home names.
In any event, here is my snapshot of the most popular dog names in the major English-speaking countries on this planet.
Stanley Coren is the author of many books including: Born to Bark, The Modern Dog, Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses? The Pawprints of History, How Dogs Think, How To Speak Dog, Why We Love the Dogs We Do, What Do Dogs Know? The Intelligence of Dogs, Why Does My Dog Act That Way? Understanding Dogs for Dummies, Sleep Thieves, The Left-hander Syndrome
Copyright SC Psychological Enterprises Ltd. May not be reprinted or reposted without permission