Manly Rules for Naming Man’s Best Friend

by A Manly Guest Contributor on December 16, 2011 · 480 comments

in Friendship, Relationships & Family

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Jon Finkel.

Presidents are notorious for giving their dogs politically correct names (See: Bill Clinton re: Buddy or Gerald Ford re: Liberty). Lyndon Johnson even had a pair of beagles he simply named Him and Her. But our manliest president, Teddy Roosevelt, would have none of that. Not only does he have a dog breed named after him (the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier) he is also responsible for perhaps the two coolest Oval Office dog names around: Sailor Boy and Blackjack. Since you don’t have your own dog breed named after you and you’re not likely to become the leader of the free world, we thought we’d provide you with a little assistance when it comes to the art of picking a manly name for your dog.

1) When it comes to female dog names, if you’re a single guy, steer clear of naming her after your favorite actress or supermodel (unless you want to end up like Michael Rapaport’s character in Beautiful Girls). Your buddies might think it’s funny, but grown women will think you’re fifteen.

2) Ironic names are like somewhat clever/funny voice mail recordings; they’re usually not as funny as you think they are, but even if they work, they’re only funny once, so don’t use them. Introducing your 10-pound Maltese named Bear might get a smile from some people, but then again, it might not. Also, if you’re a man, why do you have a Maltese? The only thing with the word “Maltese” in it that should be in your house is a copy of the Dashiell Hammett novel.

3) No car names for dogs. If you can’t afford a Lexus, don’t name your dog Lexus. If you can’t afford a BMW, don’t name your dog Beamer. It makes you look ridiculous. If you can afford these cars and you name a dog after your car, that’s probably the reason people don’t return your phone calls.

4) Dogs named after brands of alcohol are hard to pull off. As a rule, the more masculine the drink, the greater chance the name might be a success. Also, liquor names tend to work better than beer names: A Doberman named Johnny Walker? Possibly. A black lab named Guinness? Maybe. An Irish Setter named Jameson? You might be on to something. A Weimaraner named Corona or Michelob? Doubtful. Even Budweiser’s own canine mascot was named Spuds, not Bud.

4a) Age is a big factor with this rule. You have to go with your gut and trust your friends. In college, I thought my friend’s dog Jäger, as in Jägermeister, was the coolest thing ever. At the time, it probably was. Now that my buddy is 32 and has two daughters, the name feels a bit dated.

5) Piggybacking on the last corollary to the last rule: Never forget that many dogs live well beyond ten years–which is well beyond the few years of fame most pop stars enjoy. Letting your 14-year-old daughter name your new dog Bieber might make her happy now, but when your child is 24 and Justin Bieber is in rehab, nobody will be happy–least of all, the dog.

6) You really can’t go wrong with dogs named after great literary characters or old-school Presidents. Some examples: Lincoln and Jackson are great dog names. Huckleberry, Gatsby, and Buck (even though the character in this last case is an actual  dog) are solid as well.

7) Be careful about naming your dog after famous authors. You might be tempted to name your dog Hemingway or Twain or Cormac, but half the people won’t get the name and the other half will probably accuse you of being pretentious. That doesn’t leave many people besides you to appreciate it.

8) Never, ever name your dog after a current player on your favorite sports team. It may seem like a good idea, even if he just signed a 10-year, $127 million contract, but it’s not. Even if you never in your wildest dreams pictured Player X playing for another team, don’t do it. It’s not worth the agony when all of a sudden your favorite player somehow becomes a team cancer and decides he wants a contract extension, or more catches, or more playing time. Once that happens, you’re in trouble. Then, of course, there’s free agency. Sweating out a free agency period with your favorite athlete on the line is tough enough already, no need to make it worse.

8a) If your wife surprises you with a dog as a gift without reading this article, and she names the dog after Player X without your knowledge, or your kids absolutely love the name and you can’t turn them down, and Player X gets traded or signs elsewhere, you have every right to change your dog’s name. Think about how many dogs named “LeBron” are walking around Cleveland right now. Not a pretty sight.

9) Naming a dog after your favorite retired athlete isn’t the most unique idea, but if you do it, you absolutely have to take into account whether that athlete might do something insane in retirement that will make you want to change the dog’s name. There must have been several dozen people in the Buffalo area with dogs named OJ or Juice who were scrambling for new names for their pets in the mid ’90s. Retired players are good. Dead players are better. Same goes for actors, actresses, politicians, celebrities, artists, etc…

10) Dogs named after college coaches are a bad idea — too much insecurity and uncertainty about the character of the coach and how long he’ll be there. Would you want to have a dog named Paterno right now? Didn’t think so.

11) As for naming a dog after a stadium or arena, proximity to that stadium or arena is a major factor in whether you should do this. A dog named Fenway in Boston will be a dime a dozen and most likely looked upon as an uninspired nod to your Red Sox fandom. Same for a dog named Wrigley in Chicago or Lambeau in Green Bay. The farther you live from where your team plays, the more chance you have of the dog’s name coming off as original. A dog named Lambeau in Baton Rouge, Louisiana will probably be just fine. For large fan bases, it’s safer to stay away from these names, because chances are if you live near a major metropolitan area, there will be lots of transplants.

12) Dogs named after colleges or mascots in general are okay, but like stadiums, proximity is a factor. How many dogs named Gator are there in Florida? How many dogs named Bama are in Alabama? Hundreds. Avoid them. Better pick something original about your college experience and go with that. The street name your fraternity or sorority house was on, your favorite sandwich at your favorite sub shop–something like that is always good and gives you a great story.

13) Fido, Spot, Toto, Lassie, Snoopy, Buddy, etc…are all unacceptable.

14) Names based on a dog’s physical traits are also unacceptable: Fluffy, Snowy, Midnight, Brownie, Whitey… In fact, if your dog’s name could in some way be misinterpreted as an outdated racial insult, avoid it.

15) When in doubt, remember two things: simplicity and originality.


Jon Finkel has written for GQ, Details, and the New York Times, among others. For tons of manly advice about how to name a child, interview for a job or even decide which actor played the most believable real-life boxer, check out Jon Finkel’s The Three Dollar Scholar: Awesome Advice for Acing Life’s Major Decisions and Mindless Debates today! Follow Jon on Twitter: @3dollarscholar

What did you name your dog? What names have you admired or disliked in the dogs of others? Sound off in the comments.


{ 480 comments… read them below or add one }

201 Jake December 17, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Excellent article. Thanks. I named my German Sheppard “Rover” which seems to violate the last rule. Sure, its old fashioned and corny but I never met another dog with the same name and more than that when others learned of it for the first time it seemed to bring back fond memories of that persons childhood.
I’m down with the old names, Rex, king, spot, even frisky for that Maltese. Corny works….corny always works.

202 Mike Alexander December 17, 2011 at 12:26 pm

I adopted my dog and he was named Einstein based on where he was found (as a puppy by an elementary school). My dog I had growing up (she lived for 17yrs) was named Lucy after Lucille Ball and considering she almost got us kicked off the base in Korea for hospitalizing not just some neighbor dogs but also a dismounted K-9 patrol If thats not tough enough for a dog I don’t know what is.

203 R. Taylor December 17, 2011 at 1:29 pm

My dogs growin up were named by family approval vote: Max the German Shepherd, and Lucky, Buddy, and Shadow the Golden Retrievers. Only Shadow is still living, and after my brother and I moved out my mom adopted Flo the Rottweiler without changing her name.

I adopted a Lab/Pit mix who came with the name Marley, but I changed it to Dresden. Nerds always ask me if I named him after Harry Dresden (character in novels by Jim Butcher) or the Dresden Dolls (Boston punk cabaret duo); I am a fan of both but I wasn’t thinking of them at the time. It just seemed like the right name for the dog.

204 Ryan December 17, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Nice article.
One thing that I’ll add.
My family has always owned Britney Spaniels as hunting dogs, and one of the most important aspects of naming the dog is that the name MUST be two syllables. Why? Because barking a two syllable word is very easy. This is very important when you are using only vocal commands out in the field. I also find that words with meaning tend to work very well. So my last three dog’s names:
Major (after Canis Major, Orion’s hunting dog)
Cazador (Spanish for Hunter)
Yeager (after Chuck/ German Jager meaning hunter)

205 Brickwade December 17, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Getting a Bernese Mountain Dog for Xmas. Going with Linus as they are traditionally mellow and affectionate breeds. Husband isn’t sold and thinks it’s babyish. So I’ll get the dog a blue blanket too.

206 Mitch December 17, 2011 at 1:49 pm

We have had a bunch of dogs over 45 years of marriage. Two favorites were Rocky, named by one daughter because she looked like a scoop of Rock Road ice cream when she was born. After her came R2 (short for Rocky II), named because she was nearly identical in color to Rocky. R2 and her name became a favorite with everyone.

207 Doug K. December 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm

My dog is named Ruger. Most men guess he is named after a gun brand. Posers say it is a German pistol…real men know otherwise.

208 Jon December 17, 2011 at 2:10 pm

My two year old Great Pyrenees is named Sawyer. He is dependable, unlike some tv stars named Sawyer.

209 Trenton December 17, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Additionally, real men have dogs that are trained. As such, you need a name that dogs will hear well and react to. Usually any two syllable word starting with a hard consonant like B, D, G, J, K, or T.

210 maxmike December 17, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Manly men name their dog anything they damn well please. Because the matter is between you and your mutt. The real sin is letting someone ELSE name your dog.

And yeah, I named my Corgi Picachu.

211 Annie Andre December 17, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Funny article. I named my dogs after the game of poker “poker” and after my favorite spice “sugar”

212 red December 17, 2011 at 3:21 pm

sasha, sammy and bubba. (collie, standard schnauzer and a lab/dane mix respectively)

213 David December 17, 2011 at 4:50 pm

We gave our Jack Russell terrier his Christian name: John Russell (We call him J.R.)

214 Bryan December 17, 2011 at 5:34 pm

After moving onto a new place which was somewhat isolated, I promised the wife that I would beef up security for her and the kids by putting up a fence and getting a dog. The chain-link was easy, getting the dog proved a little harder. We settled on Australian sheperd as a breed and after some looking we found a local breeder that had pups ready for pickup. So with the wife and kids packed up in the van away we went to select the new member of the family. I figure how hard can picking a dog be, right? After about an hour of hearing my wife and kids say things like, “Oh look at that one.” and “This one is just adorable.” and “Doesnt this one have a pretty coat.” the pick was made. I had been watching one little male pup run and play with his siblings. He appeared confident, strong and displayed a personality that was outgoing. He got the “tap” and we became the proud owners of “JAKE”. My rule when naming a dog is keep it simple. Upon getting Jake home, a transformation occurred. The confident self-assured little guy I saw at the breeder was reduced to a small quivering ball of fur that continually walked around bumping into things. A visit to the vet confirmed my worse fears. Jake was blind. The vet explained that as long as Jake was with his brothers and sisters running with the pack his sight problems would have been hard to notice but all alone and dependent on his own sight the disability became obvious. To prove his point he placed Jake on the exam table and told me to call him towards me. Jake turned towards my voice and started walking….right off the edge of the table. As I caught him in my arms, it was like getting punched in the gut. What now? The vet said that his sight might get better but odds were against it. He said that I should call the breeder and discuss it with him. Even though Jake had only been with us for three days, I knew that this was not gonna be easy on me or the wife and kids. Following a “family sit down” the decision was made. We would take Jake back to be with his brothers and sisters. When we arrived it turned into a joyful reunion. Jake once again tuned into the confident self-assured pup I noticed on that first day. He ran into the pack of his siblings and flopped on the ground only to be covered in a mass of fur and slobbery dog greetings. As we watched the reunion unfold the breeder suggested that we make another selection. The look that came from my wife was a familar one. It was that “it’s totally on you” look. A quick look at the kids rolling around on the ground in the mass of multi-colored puppies immediately over-ruled my skeptic nature and before I knew it I heard myself saying “Sure why not.”. In that decision, I would not know until some fifteen years later that I was selecting a devoted, loyal and loving companion. “JT” as I named him became a constant companion and confidant. Yes confidant, its easy to talk it out with a dog. They don’t judge. What did “JT” stand for? JAKE-TWO of course. Remember, keep it simple.

215 John December 17, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Despite rule 14, if I ever own a black dog I will name him after the captin of the millennial falcon who blew up the death star… Lando

216 Christopher December 17, 2011 at 7:32 pm

I had Britney Spaniels growing up and we named them both the oh so original name Britney. Another dog we had was named Lucky. Not my favorite name, but it was named when we adopted it. My next dog will be named Dog, or maybe Dawg if I am feeling cheeky.

217 bro montana December 17, 2011 at 7:35 pm

i had two bulldogs. luke and waaayne gretzky. pronounced like its spelled

218 marik December 17, 2011 at 7:43 pm

It should’ve been Jager, as in Chuck Yeager. And there aren’t enough Indy’s in the world.

219 Manly man December 17, 2011 at 7:55 pm

I have an Australian shepherd named DUDE after Dean Martin’s character in the movie Rio Bravo.

Great article!!!!!

220 Cory December 17, 2011 at 7:56 pm

I named my Boston Terrier Finnegan. I’m half Irish, there’s a huge Irish population in Boston, and one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands is Finnegan’s Wake, by The Dropkick Murphy’s.

221 William Bentley December 17, 2011 at 8:06 pm

My favorite dog I named “Biggles”.

222 Thadryan December 17, 2011 at 8:07 pm

I have always wanted to name my first dog “Halligan” after the multipurpose specialty crowbar we use on the fire department.

(@John I think the black dog named Lando is pretty clever and no one could prove you named him that because he was black!)

223 Tony December 17, 2011 at 8:14 pm

I named my black Great Dane Scipio, as in Scipio Africanus, the Roman general.

224 Tony C December 17, 2011 at 8:53 pm

My soon to be 2 year old min pin was so rambunctious when we got her that I named her Calamity Jane. We call her Jane, or more often than not “Baby”.

225 rhh December 17, 2011 at 9:05 pm

some dog names i’ve heard that i thought were pretty good:

Boozer – a wild and woolly beast that used to chase everything and loved rolling in the mud

Brownie – a nondescript bitsa, brown in colour, that loved to chase – and bite – the local priest, Reverend Brown.

Dozer – as in bull-dozer, a bull dog of course

Tex – a wide-ranging womanising liver-spotted Dalmation

i reckon you can’t name ‘em till you get to know ‘em. they have personality and character. though they may pick up on the vibe that comes with the name you give them in the first place, sort of self-fulfilling prophecies? [be careful what you wish for, you might just get it]

226 Spence December 17, 2011 at 9:20 pm

I dont have a dog yet, but I want one. I was thinking dale, as in earnhardt. Or maybe earnhardt.

227 Logan December 17, 2011 at 9:43 pm

I bought my fiance a smooth fox terrier which is called Ella, and in early january I’m getting a male Groenendael Belgian Shepherd pup who I’m going to call either Ragnar (after Ragnar Lodbrok) or Fenrir

228 Steven December 17, 2011 at 10:03 pm

My dog’s name is Aristotle.

Like you said, keep it simple.

229 Atteberry December 17, 2011 at 10:47 pm

I found a poor,bald,mostly starved American Foxhound one day walking through woods near my house.I don’t know if he got lost in a hunting group or if some mean dumb hunter abandoned him for being a poor hunting dog,but there was almost nothing left of him.I carried him home and decided if I could get him healthy again I`d keep him and make sure he had a good home to go to,and never have to live in the woods again.Eventually,he could he eat kibble without it being soaked in water,his hair grew back,and he filled out.I decided that since he was almost nothing when I found him,I`d name him Zero.The best dog I ever had….horrible hunting dog though.

230 Jordan December 17, 2011 at 11:39 pm

I wish you had given us more DOs and fewer DON’Ts. It’s easy to say, imo, what NOT to do. It’s a well-written article though.

231 Jim December 17, 2011 at 11:42 pm

my dog’s name is adolf stalin hitler

232 John December 18, 2011 at 12:09 am

My first dog was a Terrier mix. We didn’t name him but I didn’t want to change his name, Simba. I got Simba back when I was around 11 years old. He died in my sophmore year in college back in ’08.

Our current dogs I helped name. We got a male Australian Kelpie, Rocky. A Labrador, Terra, who gave birth to 10 pups and 2 we kept, Mojo and Sassy.

233 Mathew December 18, 2011 at 12:43 am

I used to have a shetland sheepdog, she was by the far the best friend you could ever have. I named her Lava, a nice simple and original name.

234 Travis December 18, 2011 at 12:50 am

@Manly Man

My Dude is a Mastiff. It’s the perfect name – he’s a generally likable layabout who abides any situation. He’s a damn fine dog.

235 Carlos Mora December 18, 2011 at 1:00 am

I had a dog… his name was REX. He was the best dog ever.

236 Andre III December 18, 2011 at 1:15 am

My old man named our dog Raybo after Ray Bourque, and he ended up getting traded to the Avalanche. Of course, Raybo wasn’t alive when he was traded, but if the player is a team legend like Ray Bourque is to the Bruins, I think the name is appropriate. I loved that dog, damn fine beast he was.

237 JT December 18, 2011 at 1:33 am

I know this is about dogs names but I didn’t have any say with my dog because technically it’s my moms dog. However I did name our adopted tom cat Rocky because he always fights the neighbourhood cats and no matter how much he gets clawed up he still goes back for more. Rocky is a champ.

238 JoeRosser December 18, 2011 at 2:23 am

My wife and I have three Siberian Huskies. The oldest which is a black and white female, who was my wife’s before we met, name is “Roxie” or Roxette after the 80′s band (really its “she’s got the look” after the song). Then our 1 year old red and white male is named “Rusty”, I know it’s not that original but his name really fits his personality. Then we just adopted a three year old all white female about two months ago who’s name was Stella, but we decided to re-name her “Rylie” so that it fit with the other two’s names.

Roxie, Rusty, and Rylie are the best pack this pack leader could ask for.

239 Mike December 18, 2011 at 8:16 am

Cinnamon is just fine with her name. Half Chow, half Golden. She answers to Hungry and Eat, too.
When she drinks her water, she’ll drip all over the kitchen. When my wife steps in it, I know. She yells out dang dog. The next one will be named Dang Dog.

240 Mark Bryan December 18, 2011 at 9:34 am

Named my boxer/beagle mix Piper. No special reason just a name. However about a week after I got her she was striken with Parvo, and so I took her to the vet for a three day 50/50 odds of making it out alive treatment that cost me almost four grand. So occasionally I’ll introduce her as my living breathing piggy bank.

241 B.H.Mitchell December 18, 2011 at 11:53 am

My Australian Cattle Dog is named Darwin…he is an evolutionary masterpiece.

242 Ross December 18, 2011 at 12:13 pm

We had Boxers growing up. The first one was Brutus. After he passed, we got another, named him Oliver (like the tractor). We found a boxer/ pit mix by the road one night and kept him. We named him Stanley, the names fit, they were comical like Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardey. I miss them dogs.

243 Tom December 18, 2011 at 6:53 pm

I have been trying a double play on members of bands I like, that also say something about the breed of Dog. We currently have an english bulldog named Britt, 1. because he is British, and 2. because he is named after Britt Daniels, the lead singer of Spoon. My girlfriend wants to get a french bulldog next, and name him either Bruce (as in Springsteen, as well as the fact that the dog looks like a Bat, aka Bruce Wayne) or Fran (being both French, and named after Fran Heeley of the band Travis).

244 Mick December 18, 2011 at 7:14 pm

I’ve had a few dogs in my life. Their names in were Freddy, a Mongrel, short for Fredrica, Brutus one of Freddies pups, Loppy, a B&W sheepdog because he always had his tongue lopping out the side of his mouth with a stupid looking grin on his face. Harley, a Jack Russell, named not for the bike brand, but for the meaning of the name, Meadow of the Hares. Harley did take to bikes though and travelled everywhere with me sitting on the tank of the bike. After he passed I got another Jack Russell and name him Chance. Harley’s life was cut short by Cane Toad poisening, and it was hard to deal with the loss, so Chance is really ‘The Last’ Chance. My next dog will be a Rhodesian Ridgeback with the name of Yella (at this stage, something else might find favour between now and then).

245 steve December 18, 2011 at 7:36 pm

all previous dogs were named REX, this one is TANK. next one will be ASKIM. people always ask your dogs name

246 MIMO December 18, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Great post.

For insights into the art of being a gentleman:

247 Mariano December 18, 2011 at 9:19 pm

My Rhodesian Ridgeback is Argos! Odysseus’s faithful dog!

248 Dave December 18, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Our Black lab is Grimm…we were watching a cartoon called the Grimm adventures of Billy and Mandy at the time…it was a done deal the minute we thought of it. He is awesome.

249 dave December 18, 2011 at 9:56 pm

I have a black lab named Angus. I named him with my scottish roots in mind, but out here in Alberta cow country, everyone thinks I named him after Black Angus Cows. Either way, it works.

250 Dean December 18, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Sam, Steve, Simon, Paul, Roger, Stephanie, Rebecca….. yep…. all human names here.

Give the dog a human name…. because he/she will be your best mate. Ive owned dogs my whole life. Dogs are the one animal i easily connect with and giving it a ‘human’ identity will trick your brain to being a better mate with it…. no leaving him in the rain, driving him to the pub etc….

251 DallasStorms December 18, 2011 at 10:50 pm

I tend to name my dogs after where they come from. for example, my dog Jay was rescued from a shelter in Jay County, Indiana. we though it a fine name for him, the rest of his name was gleaned from signs we saw on the way out there. the town of dunkirk is in Jay Co., and Walter Scroggins was running for sheriff at the time, so Jay became Jay Dunkirk Scroggins III, the third as he was the third dog we looked at that day. His extra names are useful when we want to refer to him w/o getting him all riled up, I’ll usually call him “Young Master Scroggins” it usually brings a smile to the people who work at the vets offic faces

252 Ryan December 18, 2011 at 10:56 pm

First dog when i was a kid was Buddy (black pound mut). Bear (also black pound mut). Then adopted a black mut that was found outside our firehouse when he was just a pup. He lived in the firehouse for the first 3 months of his life and he was given the name Probie (what we call a probationary firefighter), chief said he had to go after a few months and i took him home. Now my wife and i have a Dachshund named Walter (after Walter Sobcheck from the “the big lebowski”) and she named our golden retriever Dug (the talking golden from the disney movie “up”) the names just seem to fit. ive never named a dog before meeting it. that should be the Number 1 rule.

253 Mike December 19, 2011 at 2:03 am

When I was a kid I had a mutt named Peewee (a lot of the other electricians called my dad Peewee back in the day). Then I had a half Catahoula Curr, half Blue Heeler named Duke (after the dog from the Beverly Hillbillies) and another Catahoula female named Trouble. Duke and Trouble were the best damn dogs in the history of the world. Duke kept the raccoon, skunk, possum, and armadillo population around the house pretty low. Trouble looked scary (both of her eyes were a very pale glass blue) but she was probably the nicest dog anybody could have had. Anytime that someone came driving up to the house, we knew well in advance that they were coming because of Duke and Trouble.

After the 2 of them, I had a stray mutt that I found as a puppy and named Ronnie (after Ronnie Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd). Ronnie wasn’t an especially smart dog, he had a bad habit of running underneath the wheels of my truck, my brother’s truck, my sister’s truck, you get the picture. I ran over him at least twice that I know of. I don’t know if he got tired of being run over or he just decided to go to my cousin’s since they had more dogs (specifically females…), but he moved to their house and decided he didn’t want to stay with us anymore. Unfortunately, Ronnie never learned his lesson about cars and roamed out to the highway and got hit. My cousin took him to the vet and hand to have one of his back legs amputated. And that’s when Ronnie really got weird. We went over there for Thanksgiving one year and Ronnie was running around with the other dogs. Using only his front feet. He still had a good leg on the back, but he’d tuck it up and run on just his front legs, only using his back leg to keep from dragging his butt when he occasionally lost his balance.

One day, I hope to have a pair of Dobermans and name them Zeus and Apollo. Or an Irish Wolfhound and name him Haggis.

254 Blake December 19, 2011 at 2:08 am

We named our Jack Russell Terrier “Mwenzi”–the Swahili word for “friend and travel companion”. As he’ll eventually be accompanying us to Africa, we thought it appropriate.

255 Mike December 19, 2011 at 2:24 am

I have three dogs none of which I named. A German Shepard named Shooter (nothing to do with alcohol), a black pit bull named Luna, and a Pomeranian/Chihuahua mixed named Evie.

256 Robert December 19, 2011 at 8:26 am

I’m still finishing up my last semester in school but I’ve been set for a while on naming my dog Ezekiel (Zeke) once I get my German Shepherd

257 Luke Campbell December 19, 2011 at 10:03 am

Still I think ‘Buttkiss’ is a great name. But I might name mine after heros in Band of Brothers or should I say 101st Airbourne. Such as ‘Winters’ or ‘Spears’. ‘Bull’ sounds good.

258 Justin December 19, 2011 at 10:13 am

Nice article….he/she will be your best friend so naming is important.

My boy is a shepard mix…..I named him Argos for Odysseus dog in Homer’s the Oddessy. Literally…faithful dog. I always loved the story of his dog blowing his cover.

259 Will December 19, 2011 at 10:19 am

I named my white/black great Dane Winston – thought it was a strong name that fit him as he came from a family of award-winning show quality Danes (he’s not, haha).

260 claude December 19, 2011 at 10:29 am

Most of our dogs came from the humane society and were already named and they’re usually uncreative.

But we got a Basset pup 4 years ago and named him Flash. It fits.

When I was a kid, the neighbor boy named his doberman “Beau-Luke-Duke”. You can guess his inspiration. (same as ours, actually)

261 Erik December 19, 2011 at 10:37 am

I disagree on two things.
A Maltese cross will allways belong in my home, and I think Buddy is agreat name for a dog.

262 sarge712 December 19, 2011 at 10:47 am

You know what’s manly? Drop the angst and name your dog any damn thing you please.

263 sarge712 December 19, 2011 at 10:47 am

You know what’s manly? Drop the angst and name your dog anything you please.

264 Michael December 19, 2011 at 11:12 am

I’ve always been particular to letting animals help select their names based on their personality, a memorable episode or some other context.

The girlfriend is a big fan of keeping pet rats, but they only live a couple years so we wind up with a lot of interesting names. We’ve had Boxer, Possum, Nuisance and Two-by-four just to name a few.

265 Jason December 19, 2011 at 11:15 am

I named my dog, Tiki, for Tiki Barber. I was in my last year at UVA and Tiki was still my favorite Wahoo football player, even though he played for the hated (by me) NY Giants. Tiki was still a Hoo, and my puppy and I were, too. Tiki Barber turned out to be a giant A-hole after he retired from the Giants, but my Tiki was still my Tiki. If I hear “Tiki,” 100% of the time I think of my dog, not Tiki Barber. Tiki being a jerk didn’t spoil anything WRT my dog, rather my dog redefined “Tiki” in my mind.

I had to put Tiki to sleep on Tuesday last week. I love him and I miss him.

266 Bagley December 19, 2011 at 11:37 am

I know a ton of people that needed this article 3 yrs ago. On the topic of beer names, my sister and her husband found a collie mix while hiking in the mountains and named her Millie, as in Old Millwakee, that one seemed to work out nice, but now I can’t use it.

267 j.r. December 19, 2011 at 11:56 am

Brother in law named his boxer Piper after a Phish song – super cool name, in my opinion.
College friend: Tan pitbull named Aries (greek astrology) – Rottweiler/pit mix named Kaydo (no explanation) – Shih tzu named Remy

I think a large breed male dog named Dikembe (Dikembe Mutombo, anyone?) would be awesome, as well

268 Greg December 19, 2011 at 12:12 pm

both of my pups had names from the rescue org I got them through. The boxer/mix was named Roman. He was a runt who they didn’t think would make it but kept marching along like a little roman soldier so I feel he earned his name. He’s 50 lbs now and will sit in a field all day with me working. My blue tick / mix was 4 months old and already named Victoria … had to shorten it to Tory. The main thing to me is a dog should have a short name for a man to call them. My wife has since added middle names to both dogs so they know when they are in trouble and get called all 3 names.

269 cgarduc December 19, 2011 at 12:40 pm

My latest Golden Retriever is named “Jack Daniel’s”. I knew a femal Black Lab named “Buckshot” on the more Manly side and another femail Golden named ‘Breeze’ (which I always thought worked well…)

Have a Merry Christmas! – Cgarduc

270 JSizzle December 19, 2011 at 12:48 pm

I have a friend who named his somewhat effeminate dog “Pillow Case”…accepting one’s fate and embracing our “softer” sides with a chuckle is manly in and of itself

271 Rob December 19, 2011 at 1:03 pm

I think one of the most important factors is how good the name sounds when yelling it. For example, when calling it inside after you’ve let it out or when you’ve just gotten home from work and want your furry best friend to come running to you to help you unwind.

I don’t have a dog (waiting until I’m at a more permanent residence) but I am leaning towards the name Levon (Lee-von). Named after Levon Helm, the simple farm boy from Arkansas that grew famous as the drummer and one of the singers from The Band.

I might have to get him a female companion named Fanny. Instead of “Sit” I’ll teach her “Take a load off, Fanny!”

272 Svend December 19, 2011 at 1:52 pm


273 Nathanael Snow December 19, 2011 at 2:14 pm

We got our brindle Boxer, “Beau” from a rescue. When people ask, I tell them his name is “Bonhoeffer,” but “Beau” for short. His birthday is close to Bonhoeffer’s, Feb 4. Pretentious? Maybe. But then I get to talk about one of my favorite personalities of the 20th century.

274 Jon Finkel December 19, 2011 at 2:22 pm

And the great names and name ideas keep pouring in…

Dogs named after favorite songs is a cool way to go… Hadn’t thought of that… Not sure how you turn Born to Run into a dog name… Run? Then you give props to both Springsteen and Run DMC.

Thanks for keeping up the comments everyone… And for those not on Twitter, thanks to those of you who bought my book! You can click here to buy it for just $2.99:

275 Jon Finkel December 19, 2011 at 2:25 pm

@Jason… Sorry to hear about your dog Tiki, buddy. Tough, tough day when that happens…

276 Budreblu December 19, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Great article! I usually pick a name from a song from one of my favorite bands. My last dog was named Theo (short for Thelonius) after a phrase in Steely Dan’s Midnight Cruiser ……”Thelonius, my old friend”… and that he was to me for 16 years.

277 Mike December 19, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Male Black Lab – Kingston

Named him after the city in Ontario. My friend had a camp close to there and thought it would make a good dog name. He seems to enjoy it.

278 Grant December 19, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Called my American Bulldog Billybob.

Not after the actor just wanted a good ol’ American name.

People here in England love it.

279 Carter December 19, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Coon hound – Festus T. MaGillacutty

280 Sam December 19, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Jarvis the Yorkshire Terrier, named after the house computer in Iron Man I. I wasn’t crazy about getting a smaller dog, but my wife really wanted one. Now that we have a baby girl Jarvis is the only other guy in the house, so we hang out together and comiserate. He sits with me while I’m writing reports in the evening and chews a piece of rawhide while I drink Scotch. It’s a good arrangement. Plus, I can talk to him and he never interrupts.

281 Rachel December 19, 2011 at 5:27 pm

This is an excellent article – I would only add that dogs should have names that sound like names, not objects or kitschy cultural references. No pet should be named “Beer Can” or “Peaches” or “Short Stack” or anything you’d name a racehorse. Short, distinctly audible names are best; dogs do recognize their names, but not if you name them something like “Mr. Jones’ Midnight Fancy.” That’s probably why dogs have traditionally been named Spot, Buck, and Fido – they’re short and distinctly audible so dogs will come when they’re called and understand that they have an identity and a role in the family unit.

I also have to stand up for men with tiny dogs like Maltese. I know that big dogs are considered more “manly” but if a guy likes a small dog because it suits his lifestyle or he admires the breed, I don’t think it makes him any less manly. I happen to think any man who loves animals big or small is a credit to masculinity!

282 Karl December 19, 2011 at 6:23 pm

If I ever get a dog I’ll name him Diogenes after the Greek philosopher; Diogenes. Also known as Kynos, which is Greek for “dog”. Furthermore the word Kynos later developed into “Cynic” which is of course what Diogenes is famous for. Diogenes of Sinope, the first in the school of cynicism.

283 Liz December 19, 2011 at 6:25 pm

My dad is *great* at dog names. Did do too bad a job on us kids, either.

284 Liz December 19, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Well, darn. Obviously that should be *didn’t*.

285 Jon December 19, 2011 at 7:02 pm

@Ryan My dog is named Walter too. When I first got him, he was very undude, and thus, Walter became his name.

286 john December 19, 2011 at 7:27 pm

I really wanted to read this but I had to stop when you said that Theodore Roosevelt was the manliest president we have ever had. Learn some history man!

287 Anthony M. Corps December 19, 2011 at 7:41 pm

When I get the chance to I plan on buying either the the biggest Mastiff known to man or a Great Dane. Im a huge Beatles fan so therefore I will name the dog Ringo.

288 Matt Petty December 19, 2011 at 8:41 pm

“Ah, rules, to be read, disagreed with, broken and ignored.”

My Gordon was named by my jazz-fan wife after Dexter Gordon. There’s another local dog called Coltrane.

289 Damon December 19, 2011 at 8:45 pm

My beagle in college was named Bonz, after Phi Kap’s symbol. My new chocolate lab mix is named Jezebel, shortened to Jezzie. Right now she’s in her wide open crate snoring away.

290 Scott December 19, 2011 at 8:48 pm

I’ve always wondered about “Fido.” For as long as I can remember (and I’m 50), it’s been a cliche for a too-common dog name, but I have never, ever heard of a real-life dog with that name. So naturally, I’ll name my next dog that.

291 Jared December 19, 2011 at 9:41 pm

my dogs that i have right now are a Boston Terrier named “Oreo” and a Golden Retriever named “Trigger”.

292 Mike December 19, 2011 at 11:51 pm

We adopted a female coonhound named Kima, and later took in a male chocolate lab named Mojo after his original owner (our neighbor) passed away.

293 Cory December 19, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Agreed with Jared & Trenton… the real manly rule for men is to train your dog. Dogs need a sense of purpose too. Throw “rule 8a” out the window, trained dogs know their name and what to do when it’s used in the context of a situation, so you can’t just go up and change it on a whim. Sticking to two syllables is probably the only rule that actually has significance in naming a dog, and it’s not listed in your article.

294 Doug December 20, 2011 at 12:05 am

I named my little girl Jolene, had the name picked out before I found her. She is a smooth coat border collie/greyhound mix. I really like people names for dogs. I have been wanting another dog for a while now and if he is a guy it is gonna be Bruce, Bruce the Dog. If I find another girl I am thinking Elinore or Elly. I think those are fine names. If you are having trouble picking a name feel free to use one of those.

295 Aaron December 20, 2011 at 1:02 am

Just got my early christms present yesterday from my wonderful wife. An Irish Wolfhound puppy. We’d been bandying around names for a while, but when I met him I instantly called him Murphy and the names all ready stuck.

296 Brian December 20, 2011 at 1:07 am

When she was a kid, my mom had a dachshund name Brutus.

Seem out of place? Ever see a wiener-dog kill a deer before?

297 Taylor December 20, 2011 at 2:39 am

I have a suggestion to offer: City names (provided that they aren’t to strange) seem to work. I have a friend who’s dog is named Cairo, and I have met dogs named Sydney, Tokyo, Oslo and Seattle.

298 Alex December 20, 2011 at 3:57 am

A friend that dropped by named the stray pup that hung around in my yard 7 or 8 years ago Saddam. Eventually it got shortened to Sam (pronounced much like “sum”).
Fortunately he has no oil and has commited no genocides as far as I know (though he does seem to have a quarrel with blackbirds), so I’m not expecting an invasion.

299 T.R. Harris December 20, 2011 at 6:01 am

Our golden retriever is named Sampson. A good, strong, masculine name with Biblical roots. I like the name, of course, but it made more sense when we used to have a Husky named Delilah. Sampson and Delilah were the best of friends.

300 Chase December 20, 2011 at 8:12 am

Nice article. I took a different, politically incorrect path in naming my dogs. I have three Austrailian Cattle Dogs. One was abandoned by her previous owners and already had a name. One that we’ve had from his birth was named Ruger. The other was adopted by us, and is Remi, short for Remington. I hope the anti-gun people protest at my house over this.

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