Most Popular Pet Names of 2012

chihiro puppy

One thing we see a lot of this time of year is lists of baby names: the top baby names for the year, and names that are projected to be popular in the coming year.  What we don’t expect to see are studies of a different sort of name: dog names.  But that’s just what MSN did, compiling a list of the top puppy names for 2012.

A familiar name tops the list: Bella.  It’s been a popular female dog name since 2006, thanks to the “Twilight” craze.  I can attest to that; Chihiro was originally named Bella when we got her.  That’s something the puppy name list has in common with the overall baby name list.  In fact, there is a lot of overlap between popular names for puppies and babies, especially in the girls’ list.  Many of the names still in the top ten for dogs have slipped to the top 20 or 30 for girls, but still the overlap is there, with names like Bella, Lucy, Chloe, and Sophie.

The full list of the top most popular puppy names for 2012 is:
Female:                       Male:

1) Bella                      Max
2) Daisy                     Buddy
3) Lucy                      Charlie
4) Molly                      Rocky
5) Lola                       Cooper
6) Sophie                   Bear
7) Sadie                     Bentley
8) Chloe                     Duke
9) Coco                      Jack
10) Maggie                 Toby

There are some interesting things we can extrapolate from this list.  First, we’re seeing an obvious trend; aside from standard favorites like “Buddy” and “Bear,” the vast majority of these names are all ones we’d also use with humans.  They’re all short, one-or-two syllable names, perhaps to make them easier to recognize for the dogs bearing them.

It’s worth noting that all of the classic, less human-sounding names are all on the male list.  The only name on the female list that isn’t obviously a human one – Coco – can be used as a nickname for humans, or sometimes as an actual name.

MSN posits, and I agree, that we’re increasingly viewing our pets as part of the family.  That’s why we’re giving them human names, because we’re continuing to humanize them.  They’re not just pets or accessories; they’re part of the family, so they need names to match.

We see this trend reflected on the list in another way as well.  Most traditional pet names – Fido, Spot – are gone.  The standards that are still around, like Buddy and Bear, are all on the masculine list.  When we view our pets more as animals, as members of the wild, instead of parts of our family, we associate them with more masculine ideas.  Perhaps that’s why the traditional names have stuck around longer on the male side of the list, as opposed to female.

I both do and don’t subscribe to my pets-naming policy.  I’ve named all of my pets after fictional characters; Cole came with his name and I kept it, because it is a reference to “Old King Cole,” and he looks like an old man.  My pets-naming philosophy tends to be that of indulging my impulses: I might want to reference a favorite movie, or do something clever, but I wouldn’t want to saddle a child with my silliness.  I can do so with my pets, because then it doesn’t matter.

How do you name your pets?  Do you use human names, or follow a different tactic?