What’s in a Pets Name?

Thursday 2nd August, 2012 by Claire Lodge.


Someone we know had a Staffordshire Bull Terrier who rejoiced in the name of Shrek. No prizes for guessing where that came from! And, to be fair, there was something of a facial similarity.

Then there was the adorable mongrel whose owners decided to call it Ruff. Don’t ask us why! Although the name did bear a distinct resemblance to the noise it made when it barked.

Shrek and Ruff. A bit different from the traditional Rover, it has to be said, but still bucking the popular trend, it seems.

For new research carried out by a pet insurance firm seems to suggest that owners are now tending to treat their pooches even more as one of the family by giving them names that you might more readily associate with a son or daughter.

So it’s goodbye Rover, Sandy, Goldie, Patch and Spot and hello Ben, Alfie, Oscar and Max – or, for the female of the species Poppy, Molly and suchlike.
It’s the same, apparently, with cats. You’ll not come across many Tiddles or Twinkies or even Fluffies today, it’s far more likely to be ‘has anyone seen Bella?’ Or ‘don’t mind Millie, dear, she’ll cat-nap on your lap all night’.

Doggie chart-toppers Oscar and Alfie are also amongst the cream of the cat crop when it comes to name-dropping, along with the ever more popular Polly. And mention of cream brings a reminder that there has been a big rise in the popularity stakes for female dogs called Bailey.

It has been suggested that that the reason for the change to more human names is that owners are developing a different relationship with their pets and are looking upon them more as people – friends, companions, family members.

Or, as one website spokesperson put it: “This could suggest a tendency towards anthropomorphism.”

All this, of course, may be true, but it is nothing new. Sam, for example, has always been an extremely popular name for a dog – golden Labradors in particular in our experience, although why that should be has never been explained. And what else would you call a male cat but Tom?

So, what’s in a name?

Choosing one can be difficult. Especially if people are humanising their pet’s appellation. If you’re not careful it could become as fraught as deciding on a name for the new baby.

Thankfully, however, help is at hand should you require it. There are now websites which not only give guidance and inspiration on the subject, but also issue a birth certificate to make it all official.

Anyway, it all goes to prove that, as far as pet owners are concerned, if there is one thing that provides just as much scope for discussion as the English weather it’s naming cats and dogs!