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More people give human names to pets

By Darlene Dunn, Staff writer
Published On: May 12 2011 10:06:15 AM CDT
Updated On: Aug 29 2013 04:22:05 AM CDT
dog on grass

It used to be that dogs were given names such as Fido, Spot and Rover. Those days are long gone."Pets are a member of the family," said Anabel Conner, who has three dogs -- Sheba, Fawn and Ella.

"The trend in naming pets is going toward more human names," said Conner, who is also the community leader of Parents Connect.Parents Connect also provides a database of more than 11,000 dog and 27,000 baby names at and, who considers herself a name expert, said that in addition to choosing names that are more human like, there are a few rules that dog owners should follow.She said it is important to use vowel sounds and give a name that has no more than two syllables.

"They can really pick up on them. It gets too complicated with more than that, but give a name with a punch to it," she said, because a pet's name is crucial in training.

"Any pet, as soon as they can ID their name, (that) is the first step in training," Conner said.

Three syllable names are OK for pets other than dogs and cats, however.

"You can name your snake Cleopatra," she said. "It's not going to come."

She followed the rules when naming her dogs, although Fawn's name was really difficult to come up with.

"She is a husky. I wanted something to do with nature but, as she was a member of my family, too, I just wanted her to have a name that a person could have, too," Conner said.

Conner said she really likes the name Ella, so that name was easy."

Ella is a name I have always liked, and in my job as a name expert, compiling data and giving advice about baby names to people all the time -- it is one that I had seen that I really liked," she said. "It is a very popular name, though, and one that I wouldn't use for a child of my own, only because I see so many little Ellas and Bellas being named every day."

Theme Names

Lori Krout, creator of, agrees that dogs are being given more human names.

Her website uses research from the Veterinary Pet Insurance, one of the country's largest pet insurance companies. VPI provides the names given by the policyholders. Krout said they track names for dogs, cats, birds, reptiles and exotics.

Krout said the trend toward using human names is driven by people who view their pets like children.

"Dogs before were used for work on the farm and different occupations. People would keep them outside in a dog house," Krout said. "Nowadays, they are in the house, even sleeping in the bed sometimes."

Krout also has a few guidelines for naming a dog.

"Have fun, be creative and maybe use a theme," she said. "Also, think about that you will be calling it this all the time, so you don't want it to be some long, crazy name."

Krout said that "theme names" for families with more than one pet commonly come from movies and books, such as Thelma and Louise, or Gable and Bogart.

Krout even chose to give one of her dogs a name from a book. She has Otis, Sofie and Guinevere, who is usually called Guinny.She said Guinevere is named after a character in "Camelot."

For fans of Harry Potter, Krout has compiled a list of possible pet names from the popular series.

Her Web site also has a list of dog names with Australian origin for breeds such as the Australian cattle dog and Australian shepherd. They include names such as Bikkie and Ace. The meanings are also included.

O Names

Some people believe that giving a dog a name ending with the vowel O may make a dog think that the owner is saying, "No."

Krout said she does not believe this rule is true.She pointed to the popular dog name Coco. It is No. 16 on the list of popular girl dog names.

What's Your Ferret's Name?

While a lot of attention is placed on cat and dog names, it is becoming increasingly popular for people to give a lot of thought to the names for their other pets.

Conner said on PetNamesWorld's message boards there are several questions and comments about other pets.

One comment Conner said, "I just got a new rabbit. What should I call him?"

The site includes pet names for birds, ferrets, fish, guinea pigs, hamsters, horses, lizards, mice, pigs, rabbits, rats, snakes and turtles.

An advanced search on the site allows users to enter a name and determine if it is suitable for that type of animal. The search also helps users narrow the name's origin.


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