This fun read from the Washington Post will get you curious about your pet's name.
If you meet a Kevin, he’s probably a human. Bella, Luna or Max, though? Don’t be so sure. Some names are used for people. Some names are used for dogs. And then there are the Jacks and Rileys and Angels of the world, who live in the magical place where people and dogs overlap.
Our friends at the Atlantic recently noticed the trend of dogs named after humans, and we wondered: How common are dogs with human names? To find out, we explored the names of 61,000 dogs available for adoption on the website Petfinder, and compared them with baby names in Social Security Administration records stretching back to 1880.
How human is your dog’s name?
As it turns out, about 1 in 7 Petfinder dogs had names that also are commonly given to babies. But within this subset of dogs named after humans, there’s enormous variation in the popularity of certain monikers. For example, only about 1 in 2,000 of the Petfinder pooches were named Kevin. But other names — Bonnie, Jackson, Hunter — had substantial overlap between babies and pups.
Many current favorites for dogs such as Daisy and Charlie were in the top 50 baby names around 1880, the earliest year of baby names in the Social Security Administration’s data. But at the other end of the spectrum, the three most common people names for adoptable dogs are extremely au courant: Bella, Max and Luna all reached the height of their popularity for babies on or after 2010.
To verify that these trends weren’t specific to shelter dogs, we checked our findings against the names of dogs living with their owners in New York City and Seattle, where owners register their dogs’ names to get pet licenses. Bella, Max and Luna were the top three dog names across both the shelter dogs and the NYC/Seattle dogs.
Some dogs have human names because they were, well, named after humans. A Labrador-shepherd mix in California was named Michael after a kennel worker. Others got their names because they matched specific characters from pop culture. The Mary pictured at the top of our story was named after a similarly cross-eyed character in a Jethro Tull song. Michael and David in Oklahoma were rescued together as strays, which earned them names from the 1987 film “The Lost Boys.”
In some cases, a human name can help clinch an adoption. Leslie Granger, president and CEO of the animal welfare organization Bideawee, said, “We often hear from adopters that they felt an instant connection, because the dog shares a name with their mom or best friend.”
“We give human personality traits to our dogs and cats,” said Granger, who herself has cats named Maximus and Harry. “They’re more a part of our family now, so human names are more fitting.”