Boy walking dog on beach

What’s in a name?! If you get it right your pet, your neighbours and other owners will thank you for it

Thursday , 28 September 2023 by Sue Hamilton

It would appear New Zealanders seem to stick with what they know when it comes to a moniker for their dog, with ‘Loki’ of Marvel Universe fame, one of the few names which seems to drop in and out of favour year by year – for those who have Southern Cross Pet Insurance.

The Southern Cross team took a look at its last six years of data to get a fix on the top 10 names among its furred customers and has revealed we’re keen to stick with relatively simple names here in Aotearoa.

And, while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it can create some problems. Given we all seem to be sticking to the same names over and over does this then make for confusion at the park?

Kerri Murray, former vet nurse and now Sales Manager for Southern Cross Pet Insurance, has some basic guidelines for choosing a good name for your pooch.

“It’s important to keep things simple, but it’s a good idea to get creative and choose a name that stands out.

“One or two syllable names are best as they are much easier for a new puppy to comprehend, likewise they’re easier for you to say. Short, clipped names help dogs respond more quickly to commands, which is exactly want you want when you’ve let your pup go off-leash in a dog friendly park for the first time.”

“Names including a ‘c’ or ‘k’ or names with long vowel sounds like ‘ay’ or ‘ee’ at the end of the name help capture your dog's attention. Seven of New Zealand’s top 10 names for 2023 are clearly following one or both rules – like Charlie, Frankie, Coco and Archie.”

Murray recommends thinking really carefully about the name you choose.

“For one thing, it should be obvious, but your pup’s name shouldn’t be offensive. You will be calling the pup’s name out loud, in public, so bear that in mind when you are working through your selection. If you have young children too, you don’t want them being put in an awkward situation having to explain away a name.

“And steer clear of names which sound like a common command either – like ‘Chum’ / ‘Come’, ‘Kray’ / ‘Stay’ or ‘Beau’, which is pretty close to ‘No’. Make sure if you have more than one pet at home that their names are completely different – otherwise confusion will reign supreme!”

There are all sorts of things which can inspire a distinctive, snappy and acceptable name for your dog (or cat) like a movie character, a word you love in te reo Māori or another language, someone famous (and respectable), a classic name, your favourite sporting hero, a food, tipple or a place you love.

Murray says, “If the Beckhams can call their human kids Brooklyn and Cruz, there’s nothing to stop you calling your beloved pooch ‘Richie’ (McCaw), ‘Khloe’, or ‘Hihi’ (a ray of sun). Though steer clear of ‘Biscuit’. Comedian Urzila Carlson’s hilarious skit as seen here*, should be warning enough!”