How to find the perfect name for your pet

How to find the perfect name for your pet

Author: Canadian Living


How to find the perfect name for your pet

Forget Fido and Patches. Today's most common pet names sound an awful lot like baby names.

There's a reason for that: according to a recent Harris/Decima survey conducted for Nestle Purina PetCare Canada, a full 90 per cent of Canadians consider their dog a family member – and 40 per cent say they are their pet's "mom or dad." And as any cat lover can tell you, feelings for felines run equally strong.

According to, the most popular pet names are:


• Buddy
• Max
• Jack

• Daisy
• Bella
• Lucy

• Midnight
• Smokey
• Tiger

• Lucy
• Bella
• Molly

If you're looking for something different, read on for tips on finding a unique name for your wee beastie.

The best pet names
When choosing a pet name, keep it short and sweet: "One or two syllables is best," says Kristen Taylor, an assessment associate at the Hamilton-Burlington SPCA in Hamilton, Ont.

If you decide to choose a longer "official" name – or your pedigree pup comes with one like Bluebird Countess Foxtrot, for instance – shorten it for real-life and use that shorter form consistently. Bluebird, Blue or Birdie for instance.

No matter what name you choose, use the same form consistently. Don't call your dog 'Birdie' when you're happy and 'Bluebird Countess Foxtrot' when she's in trouble for digging up your garden. "Always call your dog by the same name, so he or she doesn't get confused. Consistency is key," says Taylor.

If you use the name consistently, your puppy will learn it within days. An adult or senior dog whose name you've decided to change will twig to it within a week.

"Avoid names that sound like commands. Star, for example, sounds too similar to 'Stay' and will confuse your dog," says Taylor.

Names carry a bit less urgency for cats since they don't follow commands the ways pups do, but it's logical that cats would likewise benefit from one- or two-syllable names.

Page 1 of 2 - Find more great tips on choosing your pet's name on page 2.

Cool names
Looking for something original? Try one of these ideas:

Ethnic names: Consider naming your pet a name that reflects your ethnic or cultural heritage. Name your grey cat Gris or Grisa, if you're French or Spanish, since it means grey. (But pass on it that if you're Swedish, since for Swedes, "gris" refers to a pig…or a nasty person!)

Or name the pet after its own national heritage. Your Great Dane could be named Hamlet, after the Great Dane of Shakespearean tragedy. Your Akita could be named Hachiko, after Japan's most famously loyal Akita.

Acronyms and abbreviations: Borrow initials or syllables from the names of family members and transform them into a pet name. For example, in a family consisting of Christine, Ella and Paul, the initials CEP create a name that could be pronounced "Sepp" or the diminutive "Seppie."

Alternatively, syllable sounds from each name could create a new name, ie. Kripala, pronounced similarly to Kripalu yoga, (using the "kri" sound from Christine, "pa" from Paul and "la" from Ella).

Racehorse names: Racehorses have awesome names! Name your pup after a racing legend like Secretariat, or an amazing contemporary thoroughbred like Zenyatta.

Or adapt a horse's name: Smarty Jones could become S.J. (or even Sanjay). Or use a stereotypical horse name like Luck 'O' The Irish and turn the acronym LOTI into Lottie.

Go online for resources such as acronym generators, baby name finders and even horseracing halls of fame to get the scoop on super-cool names for your pet.

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How to find the perfect name for your pet