Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How to Name a Pet: 12 Helpful Tips

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Dog Owner Belly Rub Couch

So, you’ve got your eyes on a cute little cat or dog and can’t wait to bring it home. But shouldn’t you name it first? Ideally, yes; however, don’t ever rush it, because the pet will be set with that name for life! How do you come up with a fitting moniker for the fur baby, then? How long should it be? Do you pick a popular name or a rare one?

We’ve got your back! Our experts created a detailed, easy-to-follow guide on finding the perfect name for your new best friend. Join us, and let’s talk about the importance of syllables, avoiding oh-too-common human names, and drawing inspiration from the right places. Here goes!

Divider-Dog Paw and Bone- New

Before We Begin: Popular Cat and Dog Names

If you want to keep up with the “cool kids” and pick a trendy name for the pet, you can always go with Luna (for the girl) or Charlie (for the boy). According to a recent report by TrustedHousesitters, these are the most popular pet names in the States this year.1 And if we break it down a bit further, male pups are often named Buddy, Charlie, Cooper, Jack, and Max.

Got a canine lady back at home? Pick a name like Bella, Daisy, Lola, Lucy, or Luna. As for the felines, the list of the most popular male names includes Charlie, Jack, Leo, Max, and Milo. Lastly, if you’re looking to name a female kitty, go with Bella, Lucy, Luna, Sophie, or Stella. Here are some more interesting facts from recent polls:

  • Annie, Max, Molly, and Sam were chosen by 47.1% of pet owners
  • Almost 1/3rd of pet parents (32.8%) went with Trouble, Sweetie, and Twister
  • Up to 23% were inspired by their pet’s appearance; 18.5% chose celebrity names
  • Around 13% of cat owners like to give their pets food/drink-related names
  • Surprisingly, Fluffy (for cats) and Fido (for dogs) aren’t very popular choices
  • Salem (Massachusetts) is the most popular city-inspired name among cats
  • For dogs, the vast majority of owners choose the name Aspen (Colorado)
  • Lucy is the most-used dog name in Arizona, California, Idaho, Iowa, and Kentucky
  • In Arkansas, California, Colorado, and Florida, Luna is the #1 cat moniker
  • Trendy names in the US also include Alfie, Beau, Boo, Otis, Shadow, and Trigger
american staffordshire terrier dog and cornish rex kitten cat sitting together on the grass
Image Credit: Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock

The 12 Tips for Naming Your Pet

1. Get Inspired by Your Pet’s Temperament

Some pets are cheerful, sweet-tempered, and bubbly, while others are a bit standoffish and don’t like to be at the center of attention. Different pets share their emotions differently, too, and that’s all a part of their temperament. So, let the pet’s personality dictate the choice. If your fur baby always seems to be angry at something, you can go with Grumpy or Moody.

Curious, in turn, is a great name for inquisitive pups and kitties. Or how about names like Cuddly, Harmony, Sleepy, and Hunter? For the right pet, a moniker like Bandit, Beast, Frisky, or Rebel could be a perfect match as well. Don’t be afraid to get a bit creative and watch your four-legged friend closely to come up with the right moniker.

2. Focus on the Fur Baby’s Size and Coat Color

If the cat or dog is a tiny ball of fur, a cute name like Mini, Shorty, or Smalls will instantly make you think of your pet. Or try drawing inspiration from the coat color. We’re talking about Ash, Blackie, Smokey, Scarlett, and White. Ready to get a bit more creative with the name-picking? Then think in the lines of Sandy, Silky, Freckles, and Phantom.

oldman with cat and dogs
Image Credit: Budimir Jevtic, Shutterstock

3. Skip Names That Sound Like Commands

With the right training, dogs can be incredibly loyal and obedient pets, happy to follow your lead. Cats aren’t nearly as docile, but they can also be trained and taught simple commands. That’s why it’s so important to choose a name that doesn’t sound like “Sit”, “Stay”, “Quiet”, or “No”. Otherwise, you’ll confuse the hell out of the poor pet!

Some of the worst examples include Fletch (sounds identical to “Fetch”), Sid (similar to “Sit”), and Shay (the pet will think it’s the “Stay” command).

4. Choose a Name With Only One or Two Syllables

It takes cats and dogs time to “warm up” to a name chosen by their pet parents. So, the least you can do is make it catchy and easy to remember. The best way to do that is to pick names that only have one syllable. For example, Socks, Buck, Rex, or Max aren’t hard to memorize, which can’t be said about “Camouflage”, “Troublemaker”, or “Josephine”.

Even if there are two syllables in the name, that can still work, as long as it’s not a tongue twister.

cat sleeping with dog on an orthopedic bed at home
Image Credit: Gladskikh Tatiana, Shutterstock

5. Find a Moniker That Ends on a Vowel

To make the name even more pet-friendly, see that it doesn’t end on a consonant. Instead, look for monikers that end on a vowel (i.e., Luna, Lucy, Dusty, or Josie). This isn’t a super-strict rule, of course, but, if it’s your first pet and you want to make life easier for both parties, Celeste, Bridget, and Dexter should be avoided.

6. Don’t Use Any Controversial Names

A good name for a pet is one that creates positive associations for the owner and people in general. Thus, monikers like Adolf (Hitler), Azrael (angel of death), Harvey (Weinstein), or Judas (a traitor’s name) should never be used unless you want to grab the wrong kind of attention. Lilith, Saint, and Karen aren’t the best choices, either!

funny dog catching basketball above the hoop
Image Credit: alexei_tm, Shutterstock

7. Avoid Common Human and Dog Names

We want to give our cats and dogs names that everyone knows and loves. However, please note that most pet parents in your area probably had the same idea. This will become clear once you arrive at a popular park and beach for pets. A fur baby named James, Max, Mary, or Luna will often get distracted and puzzled when taken outside.

Oh, and if you have a human friend called Charlie or Lucy, that can be even more confusing! Finding a moniker that’s equally rare and easy on the tongue is not an easy task.

8. How About Comic Book and Movie Heroes?

If you’re hitting writer’s block and can’t seem to find a suitable name for your fluffy bud, you can always look for inspiration in pop culture. With fairytales, comic books, movies, TV series, anime, and video games the sky’s the limit. Just do your best not to overdo it and follow the rules we discussed earlier, including the ones on syllables and vowels.

dog and cat running in the snow outside
Image Credit: Bachkova Natalia, Shutterstock

9. Make a List of the Best Monikers and Go From There

Be quick to write down all the potentially awesome names that come to you in the “heat of the moment”. Most likely, the names that pop into your head in the first two minutes or so are going to be some of the best options for the pup/kitty. We would recommend setting a limit, though, as navigating through hundreds of potential picks can be rather tiresome.

10. Ask Friends and Family for Suggestions

Sometimes, the best thing one can do is ask their friends and relatives for some advice. First-time pet owners often have a hard time with the naming, but a few suggestions from people you love and trust might steer you in the right direction. This is especially true if you have a big family that’s also involved in the pet’s life. Ask each member to choose a name and see if there are any matches.

Even if you end up with a whole bunch of over-the-top monikers, you might still get inspired and brainstorm some killer names for the pet.

portrait of a cat and dog
Image Credit: Erik Lam, Shutterstock

11. Choose a Name That You’ll Happily Stick With

This is important: once a cat or dog learns to respond to a name picked by the owner(s), it becomes an integral part of the pet. True, you can always try and change it, but it will be incredibly hard to “rewire” the pet’s brain to a new name. In this regard, our fluffy buds are just like us and prefer to stick with the “title” given at birth.

With that, a 150-pound Mastiff named “Cutie” will probably look a bit silly (but totally adorable). So, you need to be 100% happy with the name and also confident that you won’t grow to dislike it. Be very careful and thoughtful, as choosing a moniker for a pet that’s trendy here and now might not age well in the long run.

12. Be Quick With the Picking, But Don’t Rush It Either

The sooner you come up with a name for the pup or kitty, the better. However, picking something less than ideal just so that you make it to the pet’s two-month birthday won’t do you any good. Again, domestic animals take their names very seriously. The only time when you should think about changing a pet’s name is if you adopted it from a shelter and its previous name is associated with abuse by previous owners.

german shepherd dog domestic shorthair cat on carpet smiling happy
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Divider-Dog Paw and Bone- New


The perfect name for a fur baby is short, catchy, and easy to remember. There are thousands of options out there, and your mission is to find a moniker that fits the cat/doggo perfectly and embodies everything it means to you. Easier said than done, right? Well, that’s exactly why we put together this guide for choosing names!

Of course, you should always pick from the heart, as only a name that truly resonates will be able to “stick” with the pup or kitty. That said, logic plays a huge part in the name-picking game. So, once you learn to avoid common mistakes, it will be much easier to find the perfect call sign for the furry bud!

Featured Image Credit: Evelyn Chou, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database