What To Name Your Dog: 1875


laddie boy collar harding dog

Dog collar given by the citizens of Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1923, to “Laddie Boy,” President Warren G. Harding’s Airedale terrier.


It seems as if nine-tenths of the dogs in the world were named ‘Sport,’ ‘Jack,’ or ‘Maje,’ but there is really about as much variety in dogs’ names as in the names of persons, as any dog-license book would show. Of the first hundred and fifty dogs licensed this year in a New England town, which is a pretty good sample of the common run of dogs every where, ‘Jack’ and ‘Prince,’ or “Prinny,’ were the names that come oftenest; next in number were the ‘Majors;’ fourth, ‘Pink’ or ‘Pinky’ (the idea of a pink dog!) fifth, ‘Fanny;’ sixth, ‘Spot;’ seventh, ‘Tiger’ or Tige; eighth, ‘Rover.’ If you want to find an original or uncommon name for a dog, don’t select either of these. There was a sprinkling of Skip, Ned, Victor, Grip, Beauty, Carlo, Watch, Spring, Hero, Fido, Sport, Billy, and Dick, which are rather common dog names.  The dog that led off the book was named John Thomas and the next was Jim Thomas. some of the odd names are Muff, Sailor, Vivat, Richard the III., Spider, Satan, Aebah, Toix, Ned, Berty, Delphi, Fooley, Ruff, Lee, Robin, Commodore, Beno, Crib, Tigertown, Dandy, Smoke, Benjamin, Pussy, Victory-Joe, Chess, Crill, and Ventor. It don’t seem to be very hard to find names enough for a dog

The Christian Recorder [Philadelphia PA] 14 October 1875

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  It is, Mrs Daffodil is given to understand, the beginning of the Chinese “Year of the Dog.” It behooves us to give our canine friends names both dignified and reflective of the animal’s character.  But just as there are trends in baby names, fads in dog names come and go.


It is fairly easy to find a name for a baby. But ingenuity, judging by results, often fails hopelessly before the task of finding a name for the new pup.

What a rush there will be in the Dog Star when the roll is called, and Spot hears that it is time to wag his tail. There are a dozen Spots in every street, and the funny things is, half of them are not Spot at all. I know a black Spot, and a snow-white one. Jacks are legion. I think many dogs are born Jack; good, honest, clumsy fellows who never resent a whacking or turn away from a bone. There are Rovers who wouldn’t dream of roving. Rover is usually a large, patient, obedient person. Scamps and Rascals are hard, scrabbling little scraps. Tinker is always a fighter. Nell is—well. Nell is Nell; not much at morals, but a good one for a rabbit. The really correct way to name your dog, of course, is to make a portmanteau word or a pun out of his parents’ names. Thus the son of Luffin and Sarah might called Sally Lunn, but many poor dogs have worse names than these.

Hound names go by initials. All the litters from one dam keep to their own letter. It is almost an impertinence to choose traditional hound-names for the house dog, though Dexter, Bluebell, Farmer, Bugler, and the rest are tempting to borrow. But it is better to call the dog Spot and be done with it than to let yourself in for the ignominy of yelling some absurd freak of originality in public thoroughfares. Would any self-respecting dog be seen to come to heel to the mortifying call of ‘Fatty-boy, good dog!” or “Bunty-Boodles!” or “Baldwin! —which I actually heard the other day, whether in compliment to a statesman or an apple I can’t decide. Whichever it was Baldwin took not the slightest notice.—Daily Chronicle.

Otago Daily Times 7 May 1926: p. 15

Baldwin, Mrs Daffodil notes, was Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. Heroes were often the inspiration for dog names, such as “Balto,” “Dewey” and “Togo.”

There are certain English names for dogs that have meanings that might be given when appropriate. Alan means a hound; Ashur, black; Blanco, white; Crispin, curly; Duncan, brown; Julius, soft haired; Leonard, lionlike; Linus, flaxen haired; Rufus, red; Vivian, lively; Clara, bright; Constance, loyal; Joyce, sportive. Such names as Scud, Rover, Dart and Patter are suggestive in themselves. Two classic names suitable for dogs are Biteou and Lixus.

St Albans [VT] Daily Messenger 23 February 1907: p. 6

Of course, there will always be owners who insist on unusual or “joke” names. President James A. Garfield, of the United States, for instance, had a Newfoundland dog named “Veto” in honour of an 1879 veto by President Hayes of which Mr. Garfield had approved.

“Fishing?” inquired a man as he passed.

“Yes,” answered the boy.

“Nice dog you’ve got; what’s his name?”

“Fish,” replied the boy.

“Fish? That’s a queer name for a dog. What do you call him that for?”

“’Cause he won’t bite.”

Evening Star 31 December 1910: p. 6


Yet, sometimes one hits just the right note:

“What is the name of your dog?”


“That’s a curious name for a dog.”

“He howls a great deal at night. Got the idea from that quotation, ‘Macbeth doth murder sleep.’”

The Greensboro [SC] Daily News 16 July 1916: p. 15


Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


3 thoughts on “What To Name Your Dog: 1875

  1. Ruth Beaty

    I like Macbeth, that one made me laugh. We currently have Maggie (Magpie, for obvious reasons besides coloring), Callie (who should have been Kali, maybe), and Mr. Georgie (who really doesn’t have a set personality yet). So many other dogs over the years, most of the names were just what seemed right at the time or what I could get them to answer to. Red, who was, Mollie, Cookie who looked like an Oreo, Tillie, Mickey (my beloved childhood pet), Pitty-Pat and Turnabout (who named for what they did), and Pepper who was a Chihauhau so what else could we call her. These don’t count the cat, fish and lizard names, of course, but those were not dogs…


  2. chriswoodyard Post author

    A charming collection of dog names. Mrs Daffodil is partial to “Magpie” and, of course, Kali, which might be given to all puppies, the Destroyers of Worlds, not to mention favourite shoes and hand-bags….
    Best wishes
    Mrs Daffodil



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