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posted: 7/29/2012 5:59 AM

Names we pick say a lot about our pets

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  • Casey, a male Labrador retriever, weighs about 21 pounds and is 9 months old.

    Casey, a male Labrador retriever, weighs about 21 pounds and is 9 months old.
    Courtesy of The Buddy Foundation

  • Rocky II, a male Labrador retriever mix, is about 1 year old and weighs 47 pounds.

    Rocky II, a male Labrador retriever mix, is about 1 year old and weighs 47 pounds.
    Courtesy of The Buddy Foundation

Ellaine Kiriluk
The Buddy Beat

My niece Priscilla adopted a second dog about two weeks ago. He's a 3-pound Chihuahua, who joins his sister, also a Chihuahua.

He came from a shelter that rescued him in Puerto Rico. My niece changed his name to Jersey, reflecting the state where they live. I got to thinking, how do we name our dogs?

Looking at the dogs I've known, some of the names have stories, some are based on the physical traits of the dog and some seem to have been picked out of thin air.

My sister's rescued golden retriever was named Reuben because they lived in Omaha, where the Reuben sandwich originated.

The German shepherd in our training class was named Zorro. When they got a second dog, they named him Diego. And then, there was the lady sitting next to me in the veterinarian's office who named her dog Table because she had never met another dog named Table.

Kristen Seymour,, reports they researched the names of more than 650,000 puppies from vetstreet's records to find the most popular puppy names for 2011. While doing their research, they found several trends, including owners using names for their dogs traditionally reserved for human children and pop culture influences.

Max was the No. 1 name for male dogs and the sixth year in a row it's held that spot for dogs. Bella, as in the movie "Twilight," was the top female name for dogs (and cats), and has been the No. 1 choice for canines since 2008.

Traditional names like Rocky have made the top five male dog names list for the past 12 years, while Bear has been on the top 10 male dog names list for the past dozen years. For female dogs, Daisy has been one of the top three for the past 12 years.

Here's the list of Most Popular Puppy Names of 2011 as determined by vetstreet. com:

Male: Max, Buddy, Charlie, Rocky, Cooper, Bentley, Bear, Duke, Jack and Buster.

Female: Bella, Daisy, Lucy, Molly, Chloe, Sophie, Sadie, Lola, Maggie, Bailey. also researched the trendiest names in dogs, those names that have been trending up for the past 12 years. They consulted Laura Wattenberg, author of "The Baby Name Wizard" and creator of, to help them explain the trendier names people are using for their dogs.

According to Watternberg, one trend is the "Guys and Dolls-Style Revival." "…these are nicknames that are short and somewhat old-fashioned," like Milo and Lulu.

The second trend symbolizes our increasing connection to our pets, the Cozy and Cuddly names. According to Watternberg, "The more human names we give our pets, the more family-like role they tend to play. These names lend a feeling of warmth and personal attachment to the pet."

These names include Lola, Stella, Zoey and Penny.

The Pop Culture trend includes names from popular books, movies and TV shows like Nala from "The Lion King" and Bentley, the name of a baby on the TV show "Teen Mom."

The Single-Sex name is another trend in naming our dogs. Wattenberg notes, "Classic unisex pet names used to be about physical characteristics … Now pets are given more traditional single-sex human names." This trend picks names like Dexter and Gunner.

Here are the top 10 Trendiest Pet Names for Dogs:

Males: Bentley, Diesel, Tank, Marley, Milo, Gunner, Louie, Thor, Cooper, Leo.

Females: Lola, Stella, Luna, Nala, Izzy, Layla, Lulu, Ellie, Piper, Mia.

Regardless of what we name or rename them, training our dogs to come when we call is probably the most important thing of all.

• Contact The Buddy Foundation at (847) 290-5806; visit us at 65 W. Seegers Road, Arlington Heights, or online at

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