If you own a dog of a Japanese breed, is his or her name, “Momo?” How about, “Choco?” Maybe it’s “Maron?”
If you live in the United States and English is your first language, chances are reasonable that none of the aforementioned names are what you call your dog. If you are Japanese and live in Japan, however, the odds increase in favor of those names. In Japan, names given to dogs are typically rooted in nature as opposed to human names that Americans are increasingly giving their dogs. To underscore that last point, the top names given to dogs in the United States in 2018 were Bailey, Bear, Bella, Buddy, Charlie, Chopper, Daisy, Duke, Jack, Lola, Lucy, Luna, Maggie, Max, Molly, Oliver, Rocky, Sadie, Stella, and Tucker. Except for “Bear,” “Chopper” and “Rocky,” they could be the names of children in a kindergarten class. Professionals who watch this stuff tells us that the trend is due to a desire to make our dogs even more a part of the family.
“Back in the day,” people tended to name their dogs after their personality or physical characteristic (the dog, not the owner): Spot, “Fido,” “Bear, Prince, and Socks – you get the idea. Increasingly, however, dog names have also been impacted by Hollywood and pop-culture trends (“Stella” likely came from Modern Family, while the Twilight series most certainly gave rise to the popularity of “Bella”). A look at the call names of the current Top Ten ranked dogs in the US reveals a blend of “all of the above” by including human names, pop culture, and physical and personality trait: Those of us who follow the conformation careers of these dogs known them as Grant, Wilma, Slick, Biggie, Elsa, King, Princeton, Whiskey, Soul and Winston.
Japanese dogs are often named for a color (Maron/chestnut, Choco/chocolate, and Momo/ peach), a repetitive sound (Momo, Coco, Nana, and Mimi), or something in nature (Hana/flower, Sakura/cherry blossom, or Adzuki (“Red Beans”). In fact, take a look at the Top Ten dog names in Japan: Momo (peach), Sakura (cherry blossom), Choco (chocolate), Sora (sky), Hana (flower), Maron (chestnut), Kurumi (walnut), Reo (Leo, the original name of Kimba the White lion), Coco (Cocoa), and Nana (with “Reo” being the outlier).
And then there are popular names within a breed. For obvious reasons, “Marley,” “Whoopi,” and “Bear” are names we’ve heard given to Pulik, while “Bruiser” and “Chico” are common Chihuahua names; we bet most of us have known of a Dachshund named, “Oscar,” “Heidi,” or “Gretchen.”
What are common names in your breed? And if you live outside the United States, what are popular dog names in your country?
Image found on Pinterest and happily credited upon receipt of information