By Heather Venkat, DVM, MPH, DACVPM
Your first day with your new puppy is history.
By now, hopefully you’re updating your daily schedule to include quality puppy time.
Next up is choosing the actual perfect puppy name.
Most likely your puppy received a name when he/she was born.
If you like the name, great.
If not, go ahead and give your little pup a new name.
She won’t mind.
You’ll be using your puppy’s name often.
When you praise, discipline, or simply want your puppy to come, it’s likely the name will be your first words off your tongue.
So take a minute to really consider what name is the right fit for your puppy.
Believe it or not, when it comes to naming a new puppy, not all names are equal.
In today’s post, you’ll learn both things to avoid and things to consider when finding the right puppy name.
How to Choose the Right Puppy Name
Here is what to consider when choosing the perfect puppy name.
1. Get to know your puppy.
Each puppy is prone to have his/her own unique personality.
Some thrive outdoors while others prefer serving as couch potatoes.
One puppy may be unusually boisterous, another calm and serene.
While spending time with your puppy during these first days, be attentive to who your puppy truly is.
Does she enjoy adventure?
What gets her excited?
You can then choose a name based on who your puppy is.
You might select a name based on your puppy’s personality, or choose something pertaining to your puppy’s looks.
For example, if your puppy is white all over, names like Snow, Sugar, and Snow-white may be a fun match.
Or if your puppy has spots, then names like Sprinkles, Freckles, or Dots can be great too.
Consider Teddy or Bear if your dog is fluffy or resembles a stuffed animal.
2. Choose a name with hard consonants.
Vowels can get easily mixed up inside a puppy’s brain. So go easy on her and look for a name that includes hard consonants.
For example, Jack is great because it’s sandwiched between hard consonants.
Aria on the other hand lacks a hard consonant punch.
Aurora is another beauty, yet choose it for your puppy and she may get confused.
3. Choose a name with one or two syllables.
Names with only one or two syllables are perfect for dogs and puppies.
Because they’re easier to both recognize and remember.
In addition, look for something that easily flows off your tongue.
For example, Alex is easier to voice than Alexander.
Lizz is a better option than Elizabeth.
And Frankenstein? It ultimately fails the test when needing to roll quickly off the tongue.
If you’re really set on a long name, you might consider registering your puppy with the full name and then using a shorter nickname around your home.
4. Walk down memory lane.
Not all puppy names need to be human names.
Tap into name inspiration by taking a stroll down memory lane.
Who was your favorite sports team as a child?
What about naming your puppy after that team or even a favorite player from the league?
Or consider cities.
Is there a destination you’ve always wanted to visit?
Or a city you’re hoping to re-visit?
Why not name your puppy after it?
Food is another option.
Names like Cheerio, Brownie, Chocolate, and Cookie have been around for years and are going nowhere any time soon.
If you or your puppy are foodies, food names may be your perfect match.
Have a green thumb?
Then what about plant names like Tulip, Daisy, or Rose?
Pop culture references are also a common trend, including names from Star Wars, Disney, or your favorite television series.
The options really are endless.
Have fun with it!
Make a list of your favorite things and see if there’s not a dog name tucked away in there somewhere.
5. Get inspired.
To get started, we’ve compiled the perfect list of both boy puppy names as well as girl puppy names.
We cover the whole gamut with old-fashioned names, modern names, retro names, and more.
So go ahead and click here for 1000 puppy girl names, or tap here for 1000 boy puppy names.
What to Avoid When Choosing a Puppy Name
Here are three things you’ll want to avoid when naming your new puppy.
1. Avoid age-sensitive names.
Unless you’ve selected a small dog breed, the puppy you brought home will not be staying little.
So avoid names like Tiny and Puny because before you know it, your tiny puppy won’t be so small anymore.
Avoid controversial, political, or culturally-sensitive names as well.
2. Avoid names that sound like commands.
Avoid confusion later by choosing a name now that does not rhyme or sound similar to puppy commands.
For example, Fay rhymes with stay. Avoid it.
Clown is similar to down. Don’t use it.
If you plan to say ‘No’ to tell your puppy not to do something, Nova might not be a good choice.
Also, avoid choosing names that resemble family and household names.
For example, avoid calling your puppy Luna if your daughter’s name is Lulu, cat’s name is Tuna, or your other dog’s name is Boone.
This will make training and teaching puppy commands much easier.
Narrow It Down
Sometimes finding good names isn’t the problem.
What’s hard is making the final decision and choosing a single name for your puppy.
(To be fair, you can give your puppy more than one name. Because why not add a middle name or two?)
To make your final decision, start by writing all possible names on a sheet of paper.
Discuss the names with your family.
Which names are no-gos?
Which names are the least favorite on the list?
Cross out those names, and then repeat the process all over.
Practice saying the names of this shorter list out loud to imagine yourself calling your new puppy one of these names.
Look at your list, talk as a family, then cross off your least favorites.
Continue doing this until you have one name remaining then ta-da, your puppy has a brand-new, family approved name.
That’s all for today.
Next up is dog food.
Tomorrow we’ll look at why quality dog food matters along with what to look for when buying the perfect bag of puppy kibble.
Dr. Heather Venkat has been a veterinarian since 2013, working in companion animal medicine with dogs and cats, as well as veterinary public health. Her passion is in prevention, One Health, and strengthening the human-animal bond. A bonafide animal-lover, she competes in dog sports and currently shares her home with a border collie mix named Luna, three cats, and two leopard geckos.