Monday, March 5, 2012

Does a Dog's Name Shape Your Perception of the Dog?

I saw the below tweet* in my Twitter feed this morning and had to stop and think.

I'm not sure a Mastiff named Tinker would be less imposing than a Mastiff named Bruno - to me. It would wholly depend on the dog's behavior (and this goes for any breed/mix of dog, not just those with a more imposing physique). In fact, I know a very sweet Mastiff named Romulus, whose name I find kind of endearing despite its gladiator-esque ring. :)

On the other hand, however, I most definitely think that hard-to-adopt breeds in shelters (i.e. pit bulls, boxers, big black dogs) should never be named something that could potentially turn an adopter off...even if the dog is a complete marshmallow.

Remember Batman, Buckwheat and Yukon Cornelius, three (among other) "less-adoptable" dogs who were featured on the blog several weeks ago? (They are all in forever homes, by the way.) Do you think adopters would have shied away from them had they been named, for example, Spike, Bruiser and Big Boy?

It's hard to say (but let's hope there are no shelters out there taking that chance). 

Okay, so now that you know where I stand on that issue (and I'm sure have opinions of your own), what do you think about the reverse scenario? 

Let's say, for example, that my two unimposing clowns were named something completely decidedly more ridiculous tough-sounding? 

Well, like this?

Holy villain, Batman!

Or this?

????????? (Words escape me.)

Would you avoid them at the dog park?

(I think I would avoid *me* - the doofus who picked out these names - at the dog park. :)

P.S. My husband just passed by and told me that I should change "The Terminator" to "The Turd-inator." I think I'll just stick with Dewi.

P.P.S. I still have the head crud, and therefore, should not be held responsible for the absurd (and intended to be funny) portions of this post. ;)

*The link in the quoted tweet goes to an interesting article about popular trends in dog and cat names.



  1. Good food for thought. I suspect the 'killer' names bestow a bit more stigma than the sweetie ones. We all carry biases and there's a reason stereotypes are so hard to break - they conform to our chosen perceptions of reality.

  2. Very interesting! We all tend to have some different associations with various words and names. For example, I thought "Two Face" was kinda cute, but Terminator does sort of give a person pause. What does this dog "terminate?" Shoes? furniture? other animals? I agree completely about shelters and rescues and the names they use when looking to adopt. Better safe than sorry! Now, get well! :-)

  3. I love a good ridiculous name. I think the 6-foot leash people give their fosters some awesome names. I always hope their new families don't change them! JF and Dewi are pretty cool, particularly since I learnt how to pronounce Doo-wee. I wish Georgia had a more exciting first name but we were going for traditional and old fashioned back then. Blah ho hum zzz.

  4. I think you hit the nail on the head. I'm not too worried about a dachshund named killer but I'd probably look sideways at his person. Sort of the way I assume that men who drive big, gas-guzzling trucks have itty bitty penises. Hey, I can't help it. What else should I assume?

  5. Names are pretty important to me. I've spent a great deal of my time thinking about them and choosing my favourites. I am always disappointed when dog owners choose something uncreative like Max or Spot. With a pet, unlike with children, you have a brilliant opportunity to come up with something fun. Why not go all out?

    Ham Skillet will forever be my favourite. I bet he got a lot of attention from potential adopters all because of his creative name.

  6. LOL! Still laughing about the Turdinator comment. I like Dewie better too. I think sometimes a name can make a difference when it comes to adoption. But, I think it depends on the dog. A Chihuahua named Bruiser might be viewed as cute and help the dog get adopted. It certainly would bring giggles at my dog park! But a Mastiff named Bruiser might not. Tough call, but I do think there is something on a name to be sure.

  7. I'd probably make a beeline to hang out with the woman who named her Corgi "The Terminator." I have a weakness for small or goofy dogs with big or tough names. I once knew a Jack Russell Terrier named Zeus, and I would giggle every time I saw him. I also have a recurring fantasy of getting a scruffy little terrier and naming him Genghis. I do think that there is something to a name - on these small dogs, the names are funny, but they could turn off a potential adopter. (And maybe even with a small dog, a name like the Terminator could give an adopter pause, for the reasons Sue mentions.)

    1. I meant "turn off a potential adopter if it was a big dog." Oops!

  8. When we brought home our rottweiler baby, I decided to name her Peaches. I wanted the most un-scary, atypical rottweiler name I could think of. And she IS a Peach! Sweet, sweet, sweet.

    My husband took dibs on naming our Cardigan Welsh Corgi with enormous ears... so Mr. Spock is our official Science Officer of the household. And Spock RULES!

    I love funny names. I'm with Kristine; Ham Skillet is hilarious!

  9. i really enjoy when people name their small dogs something tough. my friend has a teacup yorkie named Tank and probably the smallest chihuahua i've ever seen, named Bruiser. Bruiser also happens to be terrified of EVERYTHING. it's not funny, but it's kind of funny.


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