From Rover to Ronald and Fluffy to Felicity: changing fashions in pet names. Pete the Vet’s Podcast on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show

To listen to the podcast, click on the play button at the bottom of this page


What do you call your pet?

Pet names are an interesting topic: as a vet. I often come across interesting and amusing ones.

First, the traditional.

  • Rover (rare these days!)
  • Max
  • Toby
  • Jess
  • Jack
  • Ted
  • Lassie
  • Lady

I went to see Billy Connolly last week, and he was great as ever – he was talking about a famous Scottish person from history who was called after three dogs
Bonnie Prince Charlie

Names that refer to the pet’s appearance

  • Freckles
  • Spot
  • Goldie
  • Shadow
  • Domino
  • Bainne – for a white cat
  • Dubh – for a black dog
  • Blue
  • Tiny

Awkward names

Sometimes dogs are given names that are not politically correct, which can be embarrassing

  • I also heard about a woman who had guessed that her husband was having an affair. She got a new puppy, and she deliberately named it after her husband’s girlfriend. So whenever she called the dog, the husband did a double take.
  • Be warned not to call a pet “Baby”. We called a kitten this, and when people told us it was because we were thinking of having children, we scoffed at them – it was just that the kitten was particularly baby-like. Anyway, within two years, we had had our own first baby. I have seen this pattern repeated when other young couples have chosen this name for a pet!

Literary and political names

  • Oscar
  • Winston
  • Churchill
  • Gladstone
  • A cat called Adolf with black fur on his upper lip
  • Still waiting for the first animal called Trump. I have no doubt that this will happen.

Many people use pet names to play word games.

  • Bonaimh – “little pig” in Irish – great name for a greedy little dog!
  • Deefor (as in D for Dog)
  • Sushi and Couscous (my cats’ names – when our Japanese student heard this, she wanted to go home and name her cat Potato)
  • A cat called Madra
  • A three legged cat called Tripod
  • A stray cat that was found with paralysed back legs was called Slug
  • The Rogue

Pairs of pets

  • Whiskey and Soda
  • Fred and Ginger
  • Butch and Sundance

Easy to remember names

Some people call their pets the same name, over generations
Just today, a lovely golden Cocker Spaniel came in – he’s called Sam 3
I knew the previous two Cockers – Sam 1 and Sam 2, and in due course, there will be Sam 4
It makes it much easier to remember the dog’s name!

Some names are from sports people of their era

After Italia 90, there were loads of dogs called Packie (after Packie Bonner)
In the nineties, there were also dogs called Tyson and Bruno
I know one terrier who has been named McGregor after Conor
Also Messi, Rooney and others

R​ecent trends

Some people have started calling their pets after human names: seems a bit odd to me but in line with trends to humanise pets.

  • Ronald
  • Michael
  • Philip
  • Alison
  • Fiona
  • Sarah
  • Felicity

Questions from listeners – answers revealed on podcast audio

  • A feral cat that we had for over 2 years had disappeared, but yesterday she appeared back on the door step, a little bit thinner and a very slightly lame on one back leg. I still have no idea where she was. Could someone have been caring for her maybe after getting injured?
  • My little dog Suzie a cross Bichon Frise and a Tibetan Spaniel tore her cruciate 2 years and had the operation but was in terrible pain for some time after it. She has now torn the other cruciate (does not appear to be in pain but is hopping on 3 legs). Should I get the operation again or would she eventually get ok I would appreciate your advice.
  • What is the name of the arthritis medicine for stiff old dogs which you were talking about a number of weeks ago? You said that it was very effective so I hope it would help my lovely, nearly 14 year old border collie, Conker. Thanks very much, Susan
  • Our 26 week old golden retriever puppy really hates the car. He freezes about 10 metres from the car when he realises that’s where we’re headed and digs his heels in and will not budge. He resists being picked up to be lifted into the car which isn’t really an option anymore anyways as he is getting heavy. He only ever goes in the car to be dropped to doggy day care or for a walk in the park or by the sea-all positive outcomes of a car trip. When he is in the car he lies down and pretty much shuts down and whimpers. We’ve done lots of training, feeding him his kibble outside the car and gradually luring him into the car and a quick trip around the block as he eats his food so he is improving. But recently we took a 25 minute car trip to the beach and he threw up in the car so we’re wondering if maybe he’s carsick? This is the first and only time it has happened so we’re at a bit of a loss.We’ll continue building up the positive connections with the car by feeding him at it and in it but we were worried that maybe there’s a physical reason as to why he hates the car. Deirdre, Galway
  • Why does my Bichon pant in the middle of the night sometimes.

To listen to the podcast discussing these topics, click on the play button below


Most popular names for dogs -2016

1. Bella

2. Charlie

3. Max

4. Ruby

5. Molly

6. Coco

7. Buddy

8. Lucy

9. Archie

10. Daisy

Ireland’s most popular dog names – 2015

1. Charlie

2. Molly

3. Max

4. Jessie

5. Holly

6. Daisy

7. Toby

8. Rocky

9. Jack

10. Ruby

Most popular names for cats- 2016

1. Bella

2. Charlie

3. Coco

4. Luna

5. Tiger

6. Oscar

7. Simba

8. Milo

9. Missy

10. Leo

Ireland’s most popular cat names – 2015

1. Kitty

2. Tiger

3. Fluffy

4. Ginger

5. Lucky

6. Tigger

7. Charlie

8. Shadow

9. Molly

10. Coco


Listen to the podcast:

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Please note that I am unable to answer veterinary questions in comments. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health it is always better to contact your vet.

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