Once upon a time, dogs were just pets. They slept on the floor, entertained themselves, and answered to names like Spot, Fido, and Rover. Those days are over now. Today, many of them in the United States are valued family members. Dogs have people names (“Good girl, Bella!”), snooze on our beds, play with fancy toys, go to daycare, enjoy visits to the dog park, and even get “pawdicures.”(It’s a “ruff” life, isn’t it?)
To sniff out some of the latest trends in dog ownership, we used data from Packdog.com – a popular social media site for dog lovers – to analyze the most popular names and breeds across the country. What types of dogs do Americans adore? Which names seem to go hand in hand with certain breeds? And what’s the most popular name and breed in your state? We’ve got the inside scoop on the hottest dog breeds and names from coast to coast.
FAVORITE DOG NAMES, PAWS-DOWN
No Spot or Fido here – modern dog names put our four-legged friends firmly in the family camp. What makes Bella the No. 1 name? Perhaps it’s Stephenie Meyer’s popular vampire-themed “Twilight” books, which feature protagonist Bella Swan.
Classic favorites Lucy and Charlie (not just for comic-book characters) follow in Bella’s paw prints, while trendy monikers like Zoe and Max also make the cut. Traditional canine name favorites – including Molly, Maggie, and Lola – remain relatively popular as well.
Have you ever inadvertently addressed a family member or friend by your dog’s name? According to a recent study in the journal Memory & Cognition about misnaming (accidentally calling someone the wrong name), many people make this gaffe – but dogs are the only pets whose names are substituted for loved ones’. The reason, researchers say, is that we think of dogs as “human-like” members of the family – something we already suspected.
TOP DOGS ACROSS THE COUNTRY
While all dogs are special in their own way, Americans do have their favorites. The No. 1 breed in the country is the rollicking Labrador retriever. Nearly 7 percent of people in the United States favor these fun-loving dogs. Ringing in second place is the sassy, big-eared Chihuahua – officially thesmallest dog in the world.
Pit bulls are America’s third-favorite breed. Though the dogs have gotten a bad rap because some can be aggressive, many people who love “pitties” say they’re easy to train, good with children, and protective. Welsh corgis, German shepherds, and golden retrievers also rank among the head of the pack. The favorite breeds come in all sizes and range from the well-known to the not-so-familiar (would you know an Australian cattle dog if you saw one?).
THE NAMES THAT FIT THE DOGS
Choosing the perfect name – one that captures your pup’s unique appearance, personality, and attitude – can be a challenge. But we noticed a few interesting trends when we cross-referenced popular breeds and names.
Adorable floppy-eared beagles get the names Daisy and Lucy. Playful pugs garner the fun, hip monikers Lola and Max. Loyal and intelligent golden retrievers are given strong, classic namesCharlie and Jake.
The top Shih Tzu name is Gizmo – a spunky handle well suited to the outgoing and affectionate breed. What about the shiba inu? This alert, active dog hails from Japan – and aptly, Japanese namesYoshi and Kuma are the most common for the breed.
COMMON NAMES FOR FAVORITE CANINES
Next, we cross-referenced the most popular dog names with the breeds most commonly associated with them. Labs and Chihuahuas aren’t exactly long-lost twins – but they often have the same names, including Bella, Lola, Zoe, and Lucy.
Fetching the monikers Buddy, Sadie, and Cooper are retrievers (Labs and goldens), Roxie is a top pick for boxers and Labs, and Max seems ideal for German shepherds and Labs.
Labs don’t dominate every name: Oliver is a favorite for both Chihuahuas and Cavalier King Charles spaniels. Welsh corgis and dachshunds are often the lucky recipients of the name Penny. And if you hear someone calling for Luna, you’ll likely see a pit bull or Siberian husky trot past.
CANINE NAMES ACROSS THE U.S.
Dog parents across the country, perk up your ears: We mapped the most common canine names in every state – and some of them are absolutely off the leash. Bella takes top-dog honors in 18 states, from California to New York, Minnesota to Florida. Ten states love Lucy, six more are crazy aboutCharlie, and three apiece like Molly, Lily, and Zoe.
Some states march to the beat of their own drummers. Among boy dog names, Oklahoma alone favors Cooper, Nebraska loves the name Max, and North Dakota goes for Jack. As for girl dog monikers, Iowa loves Lola, and Hawaiians opt for the traditional Maka.
BREED ALL ABOUT IT
Next, we unleashed every state’s favorite dog breed. Labrador retrievers can bark for joy – these smart, playful lovers of food, swimming, and fetching are the favorite canine in 30 states. Though tiny in stature, Chihuahuas are a big favorite in 10 states. Three states proudly proclaim their love for pit bulls.
However, five states stand alone for their unique taste in canine companions. Smart, stubborn, and energetic, Australian cattle dogs are prized in New Mexico, and active, fun-loving boxers abound in Mississippi. Graceful Siberian huskies, a working breed, are favored in Michigan, while shiba inus are loved in North Dakota and Hawaii.
Delaware residents have a special place in their hearts for greyhounds – gentle, quiet dogs that became increasingly popular as people began to adopt retired race dogs. “Greyhounds Reach the Beach” takes place each year in Delaware to celebrate greyhounds and greyhound adoption.
DOGS ARE THE NEW KIDS
“Come here, Max!” “Stop that, Lucy!” A visit to the dog park can sound a lot like a toddler playgroup – but it turns out that the top dog names don’t actually correspond all that closely to the most popular baby names.
Female dog names Lily, Zoe, Sadie, Lucy, and Bella are the only ones to crack the top 100 baby name list – and only one makes the top 25. As for male names, Oliver, Jack, and Cooper are the only popular dog monikers that overlap with the most popular 100 baby names – and two names for boy dogs don’t even make the baby name list.
MOVIE, MYTHOLOGY, ROYALTY, AND CARTOON NAMES
When it’s time to name that four-legged family member, many people draw inspiration from theirfavorite movies and cartoons, royalty, and even mythology.
Three names come straight from four-legged film stars: yellow Lab Marley from tear-jerking comedy “Marley and Me”; Shadow, the golden retriever from “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey”; and Otis, the pug from “The Adventures of Milo and Otis.” Another trio of colorful monikers comes from cartoons: Belle from “Beauty and the Beast,” Nala from “The Lion King,” and Minnie(Disney’s beloved mouse).
Mythology also yields mighty names: Zeus (Greek god of the sky and ruler of the Olympian gods);Apollo (the Greek god of music); and Thor (the Norse God of Thunder). Fans of royalty choose stately names like Duke, Princess, and Lady. In New Zealand, royal titles including Princess and Duke are banned as baby names – but thankfully you can name your fur kid whatever you’d like.
YOUR FOUR-LEGGED FAMILY MEMBER
Americans adore dogs – and let’s face it, what’s not to love? Even scientific studies reveal the benefits of pet ownership: Your trusty sidekick can make you happier, reduce your stress, and pump up your self-esteem.
As our research reveals, when it comes to favorite breeds and names, people across the country share certain affinities – but also some vastly different preferences. Big or small breed? Calm or energetic? Trendy name or classic moniker? You’re the only one who can answer those questions.
Whether you end up with a Lab named Bella, a golden retriever named Charlie, or a very different breed with a very different name, one thing is certain: That tail-wagging, paw-shaking bundle of energy and love will be part of your family.
We scraped data from Packdog.com on May 19, 2016. Dogs may have been added or deleted from the site since. The data included the name, breed, and location of over 50,000 dogs in the United States. Names with a variety of spellings (Lucy, Lucie) were grouped together, and the traditional spelling was used. The most popular baby names of each gender are from SSA.gov’s 2015 list.
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