Star Wars Dogs

A recent survey finds that many dogs have been named after Star Wars characters.

Posted Apr 29, 2020

Petful CC BY 2.0
Source: Petful CC BY 2.0

Living in the shadow of a global pandemic, people are looking for things that may lighten our mood with a moment of amusement. So it was when I got an email from a friend asking me what I was going to be doing to celebrate "Star Wars Day" without breaking quarantine.

Many of you probably don't know that May 4 was chosen by Star Wars fans as the annual date to celebrate the popular film franchise. That day was chosen because it allowed a pun on the catchphrase from the film series, "May the Force be with you," which becomes "May the 4th be with you." I first became aware of Star Wars Day in 2015 when the carillon bells inside the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa (the capital of Canada) played "The Imperial March" theme from Star Wars, and that same day the astronauts in the International Space Station celebrated the event by watching the original film.

The effect of Star Wars has reached into our culture in many ways. A number of years ago when I was getting my Flat-Coated Retriever puppy, the breeder announced that his was to be an "O" litter. That meant that all of the dogs in the litter would have to have a name beginning with the letter O. This was based on a gimmick that some breeders use to keep track of the dogs that they have bred. Thus, the dogs in their first litter all have names starting with A, the second litter have names starting with B and so forth down the alphabet. I ended up naming my dog Odin, however the dog which would've been my second choice from the litter was dubbed by its new owners with the name Obi-Wan, after the Star Wars character. I would later find some research that showed that popular culture plays a strong role in our canine naming practices. Apparently 33 percent of dog owners say that they have named their dog after a character in a TV show, video game, movie, or book.

With Star Wars Day looming this year, just to provide a bit of fun, the PetFirst pet insurance company decided to review its database of pet names to see how many dogs had been named after characters from Star Wars. It is important to note that you have to divide the Star Wars franchise into two series. The Old Generation Star Wars (episodes one through six) versus the New Generation Star Wars (episodes seven through nine) which, after the death of Darth Vader, introduced a completely new cast of characters.

It is the Old Generation of Star Wars that tends to have the greatest number of dogs named after individuals in the films. The most popular name from the early group of films was Leia, after Princess Leia. This is followed by Luke, after Luke Skywalker (only a few dogs are named Skywalker). The next most popular name was Chewbacca or Chewie, after the big hairy Wookie creature who is the copilot for Han Solo. This one almost makes sense since the creator of Star Wars, George Lucas, claims that he got the idea (and perhaps the face) of this character after observing his own dog sitting on the passenger seat of his car.

Surprisingly the next most popular name, Vader, is based on Darth Vader, the villain of the Old Generation films, (although Darth is not as common). Thus the list of most popular Old Generation Star Wars dog names are, in order of popularity:

  1. Leia
  2. Luke
  3. Chewbacca or Chewi
  4. Vader
  5. Obi or Obi-Wan
  6. Yoda
  7. Kenobi
  8. Han or Han Solo
  9. Wookie
  10. Darth
  11. Skywalker
  12. R2-D2

From the Star Wars New Generation, only three names appear on the list of dog names. The most popular of these is Finn, however the popularity of this name may have to do with other factors as well. Finn has always been a well-liked choice for Irish breeds of dogs, such as Irish setters or Irish Water Spaniels. Thus the short New Generation list is:

  1. Finn
  2. Kylos or Kylo Ren
  3. Reys

Just as in movies and TV, there are often spinoffs from the main theme. A number of Star Wars fans recognize the following day, May 5, as "Revenge of the Fifth," which is a bit of a play on Star Wars Episode III which was "Revenge of the Sith." The fans use this day to celebrate all of the villainous characters from the Star Wars series, such as the Sith Lords, rather than just the Jedi and their allies.

I suppose that it is only appropriate, after an essay like this, to end with — May the 4th be with you and your dog!

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