What's in a (dog) name: Here are the top names for pooches in Hamilton

A lot goes into choosing the perfect name for your pooch. Here's a look at some of the most common monikers in Hamilton, along with some tips to help you find the perfect fit.

A lot goes into choosing a breed and a name. Here's a look at Hamiltonians top choices for each

A lot goes into choosing the perfect name for your pooch. Here's a look at some of the most common monikers in Hamilton, along with some tips to help you find the perfect fit. (Submitted by Yolande Gallant)

Bella, Charlie, Molly, Buddy and Maggie are the most popular names for canines in Hamilton, where pet owners rely on a combination of historically human handles and dependable dog monikers when deciding what they want to yell while chasing their pooches around the park.

Here's a look at the full Top 10 list — it's nothing to sniff at.

(CBC News Graphics)

The city data is for dogs currently licenced.

So what goes into naming a dog? It's a question some owners stress over and while the city's Animal Services staff don't often hear about the inspiration behind the titles hanging from each collar, advisor Karen Edwards has some ideas.

Many of the monikers that made Hamilton's short list bear a striking resemblance to human names, something she says could be a way for someone to form an instant connection with their pet.

"Maybe it makes them more part of the family?"

Edwards has her own approach. Her first dog was so sweet they named it Candy and she was so taken by the theme she stuck with it, naming her next dog Taffy.

Many of the most popular dog names in Hamilton are similar to ones used for humans. Karen Edwards from Animal Services says that might be a way to make them part of the family. (Miriam Katawazi/CBC )

Settling on particular subject for inspiration is one thing, but then there are those who take it one step further.

"I know one gentleman and he named every dog he owned Bear. In our system we had it as Bear, Bear 1, Bear 2, Bear 3," said Edwards.

Most of the most popular names in Hamilton were the type you'd expect, but Edwards has encountered the odd nickname that would make you howl.

Some time ago they were introduced to a Major Meathead.

"We renamed him just Major although Meathead did kind of fit, he was kind of a happy go-lucky dog," she said with a laugh.

Try for two syllables, but keep it simple

Edwards does have a few quick tips that can help you and your new best friend get off to a great start:

"If you name your pet with two syllables they can distinguish their name better from a command which tends to be one syllable," she explained, adding most long names for dogs end up being whittled down to a nickname in the end.

"Pick something that's easy to say, because you're going to be saying it a lot," she said. "Also something quick and easy for the animal to learn as well.

Golden retrievers are the third-most popular dog breed in Hamilton. (CBC)

"You don't want it to be too long and complicated or they'll never learn their name. If they don't learn that training is going to be complicated."

The city estimates there are somewhere between 90,000 and 130,000 dogs roaming around Hamilton. Of those thousands of renegade pups just under 40,000 (or about 40 per cent, based on the low end of the total estimate) are currently registered, according to Edwards.

That means there could be even more Bellas out there — or that another name is actually more popular, but city staff will never know.

Don't call your dog Killer

Seeing Bella come out on top came as a surprise for the team at Hamilton Animal Services who tallied the numbers, even though it often shows up on lists of popular names across North America and the world. Still, Edwards figured Buddy, Bailey and Daisy would have beat her out.

She added staff often see naming trends around popular shows and movies — think Marley & Me, hopefully without the heartbreaking ending — so it's possible all those hundreds of Bellas could trace their titles back to a vampire in the movie Twilight, or even a Disney princess.

"I guess at some point it was popular," Edwards suggested. "Maybe because of Belle from Beauty and the Beast? I don't know."

Giving a dog a name that's two syllables can help them distinguish it from a command. But don't go for something too long or you may regret it. (CBC)

Of course, picking a name carries with it some inherent risk — What if your Daisy turns out to less of a delicate flower and more of a Bruiser? Many people take some time to get to know their new pet before settling on what to call them, just to be safe.

Speaking of safety, Edwards says owners should also make sure they don't set themselves up to be on the bad end of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

"Be careful what you call them. If you call it killer …"

How do you know which pet is the right pick?

What about breeds? The city also keeps track of how prevalent certain types of pooches are and unlike Bella the top name on this list shouldn't come as a surprise.

(CBC News Graphics)

Why are labs so popular? Edwards says it all comes down to personality.

"They're great family dogs. They're easy to train. I haven't met one I didn't really like."

Here's the rankings of numbers 6 to 15

Yorkshire Terrier — 1,667
Jack Russell Terrier — 1,283
Shepherd — 1,247
Pug — 1,224
Maltese — 1,175
Border collie — 1,166
Boxer — 1,157
Cocker Spaniel — 1,148
Bichon Frise — 1,009
Beagle — 1,000

A large portion of the most popular breeds are essentially pocket-sized animals, something Edwards says might be linked to the number of celebrities toting tiny pets around in their purses.

Personality and your family's lifestyle are two things to consider when deciding what type of dog might be a good fit. (Submitted by Jen Smith)

But a more practical explanation could be at play too.

"People living in apartments don't necessarily want to have a large dog in a small place."

So let's say your kids have been after you for months about getting a dog, or you're in the market for some slobbery companionship. How do you know what breed it right for you? 

Edwards says the only way to be sure is to do your homework — and hope your new pet doesn't eat it.

"Do your research. Don't choose a dog based on its looks, actually look at its personality, its energy levels and make sure it's a fit for you, your lifestyle and your family."


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