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The Top 10 Names for Dogs and Cats --
and Some Tips for Naming Pets

The United States is clearly a pet-loving nation; 39 percent of U.S. households own at least one dog, and 34 percent own at least one cat. In all, that amounts to 73 million dogs and 90 million cats owned in the United States, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA) 2005-2006 National Pet Owners Survey.

dog names

The top two dogs names in the United States? Max and Jake.

Of course, any time you add a pet to your family comes the important task of choosing a name. This name will be uttered countless times throughout the course of your pet's life, and will come to hold a special meaning in your heart, so giving some thought to it is clearly worthwhile.

The Most Popular Dog and Cat Names

Just as there are trends in baby names, there are trends in pet names. Here we've compiled the top 10 dog names and the top 10 cat names, according to Bow Wow Meow's pet identification tag business, which has processed tens of thousands of ID tags.

naming your pet

Letting kids choose their pet's name is an excellent way to give your kids a sense of responsibility -- and establish a bond between them!

Top 10 Dog Names

  1. Max
  2. Jake
  3. Buddy
  4. Maggie
  5. Bear
  6. Molly
  7. Bailey
  8. Shadow
  9. Sam
  10. Lady

Top 10 Cat Names

  1. Tigger
  2. Tiger
  3. Max
  4. Smokey
  5. Sam
  6. Kitty
  7. Sassy
  8. Shadow
  9. Simba
  10. Patch

How to Choose a Really Great Pet Name

Sometimes, a pet's name is completely intuitive and pops into your head immediately. Others, nothing seems to sound quite right. For those times when you're having trouble thinking of a good name for your furry friend, here are some things to consider:

pet names

These pet naming tips are not just for cats and dogs … use them for your other animal companions as well!

  • Choose a name that your pet will respond to. This means it shouldn't sound like "No" (Moe), "Sit" (Mitts), or "Stay" (Mae).

  • Keep the name relatively short (one or two syllables max). You will NOT want to yell out anything longer every time you call your pet, plus it's reported that pets understand shorter, two-syllable names better than longer ones.

  • Try to avoid limiting names that may sound good now, but later will be inappropriate (Baby, Stringbean, Kitten). This also applies to names that make your pet sound vicious (Killer, Fighter).

There are also numerous strategies that can help you think of the name that's the perfect fit, such as:

  • A name based on your pet's appearance (Snowball, Cream, Pepper)

  • A name based on your pet's personality (Frisky, Thumper, Angel)

  • Human names

  • A name based on your pet's breed (a German name for a German Shepherd, for instance)

  • Names with historical or mythical interest (Caesar, Zeus, Taurus)

  • Movie or musical figures (Elvis, Nirvana, Frodo)

  • Nature-based names (Willow, Lilac, Daisy)

  • Words in other languages

Finally, if you STILL can't think of a name, there are many valuable pet-naming books out there, such as The Best Pet Name Book Ever! Or, scroll through a pet rescue site such as There you'll find thousands of pet names that may fit your fancy (and you may just find a new furry friend, too!).

Recommended Reading

Rescued Pets: What You Need to Know When Adopting a Rescued Pet

The Best Types of Dogs for Each Type of Function: From Guarding the Home to Companionship to Hunting


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