Kelly Drummond, of Kansas City, Mo., had finally found the perfect breed in her search for a family dog. It had been a long and difficult process deciding on which breed would fit their busy family lifestyle.
Drummond, along with her husband and two daughters, drove to a farm just outside Kansas City to pick up their new German shepherd dog. The kennel, collar, leash, dog food and new family awaited; the only thing missing for the dog was a name.
“When we found our dog, not at a shelter, but at a terrible home in Kansas, my kids got to pick the name,” Drummond said. “It was either JoJo or Jello, and no big dog wants to be called Jello.
Regardless of whether a dog comes from a previous owner, a shelter or rescue, or breeder, all dogs need a name. Last week, Rover.com reviewed its database of thousands of registered users in the United States and compiled the list of top female and male dog names. The names Bella and Max took first place on the list of most popular dog names for 2013.
The Drummonds decided on JoJo. Drummond’s previous German shepherds were given to her as gifts, then named after the friends who brought them. Drummond said the names fit the dogs well, and she believes making sure a dog’s name fits its personality or appearance is important.
JoJo began responding to her name pretty quickly, she says, but began to develop nicknames too.
“She acts like a cat so we usually call her kitty,” Drummond said. “She will answer to either JoJo or Kitty.”
Similar to Drummond, Kendra Weinstein, a student at the University of Kansas, named her Lhaso Apso, miniature poodle mix Ellie. Weinstein’s parents had gotten the dog for her after a series of difficult family and personal challenges.
“In order to give her name meaning, I did a lot of research and found out that the Hebrew word for strength is ‘el,’” Weinstein said. “I’m Jewish so I named her Ellie, that way whenever I saw her, she would remind me to stay strong. “
Similar to JoJo, a nickname that fit Ellie’s personality soon caught on. The nickname was fitting to the dog’s personality.
“She’s kind of a dainty, girly dog, with a show dog strut,” Weinstein said. “So I chose to name her Swag because I thought it was a funny paradox.”
Grace Lang is a certified professional dog trainer and works as a trainer at the Petsmart in Lawrence, Kan.
“As a trainer, I have seen firsthand how important the choice of the dog’s name is for future success in training,” Lang said.
Lang recommends owners stick to names that are one or two syllables, which can quickly catch a dog’s attention. Hard consonants and vowels are easier for dogs to hear than soft vowels and consonants, so the sound of the letters should also be considered.
“It’s better to wait a week or two before naming your new dog, rather than deciding on a name quickly, then finding the name doesn’t suit the dog,” Lang said. “The dog’s name becomes the key to his understanding because it signals to your dog to pay attention to your next words.”
“I once had a client who impulsively decided it would be funny to name his dog, Boy,” Lang said. “The poor dog was always seriously confused because of how often other owners said, ‘Here boy!’, to get their own dog’s attention.”