13 ways Aussies dream up unique dog names

What do Toohey’s, babies, AFL, space and small towns in America all have in common? They all have Aussie dogs named after them! If you’re stuck on what to call your pup, here’s how some Aussie families came up with unique dog names you can use as inspiration.

Paws N’ All’s recent dog name competition revealed some interesting insights into how Aussie dogs get their name. For instance: did you know that many Australians love a drink so much, they name their pup after their favourite beverage?

Australia’s most popular dog names might be fairly standard names. But here’s a full breakdown (in no particular order) of where we get our inspiration for some of the more unique dog names – the sweet, the strange and the downright bizarre!

1. Baby Names

It seems lots of people pick out baby names well in advance of having kids of their own. But sometimes those names don’t get used – their partner vetoes a name, they don’t have a boy or girl for the name, or they don’t end up having kids at all.

But those names are still put to good use when a new dog is welcomed into the household!

2. Let the dog choose for themselves

Whether it’s actively giving the dog a choice, or they just seem to respond to a particular name, plenty of people have left the choice of a name to the one who it will forever be attached to!

A doggy choice is a popular method for choosing a name when different members of the family cannot agree amongst themselves.

3. Honouring someone who is no longer with us

Many people find solace in naming a pet after someone who has died. Often it’s a relative, like a grandparent or sibling.

Alternatively, it could be someone famous who inspired us in life: such as the dog named Betty after she arrived the same day that Australian Olympic champion Betty Cuthbert passed away.

One dog was even named after Saxon Bird, the teenager who tragically died in 2010 while competing in the Surf Lifesaving Championships on the Gold Coast.

4. Sports stars and celebrities

Perhaps unsurprisingly, favourite characters, sports stars and celebrities are a commons source of unique dog names.

These may be actual names or a doggified version – such as Ozzy Pawsborn or Woofie Goldberg. Believe it or not, even reality TV makes an appearance!

Favourite sports stars – often their nickname or abbreviated version of their name. We lost count of the number of dogs bearing the name of a footballer! And that footy players are also a common source of inspiration – especially if your pup arrives around grand final time?

And who could forget K-9, in honour of the robotic dog of the same name in TV series Doctor Who!

5. Something edible

Food is a surprisingly common source of inspiration as far as unique dog names go. And while Broccoli is perhaps one of the less common ones, you wouldn’t be the first!

Then there is Toast, whose owner says, “I love types of bread as dog names!”

Other dog names include:

  • Something sweet – Maple Syrup, Waffles, Sugar, Snickers and Oreo
  • Something meaty – Snags, Nugget, Chook and Rissole
  • Breads and cereals – such as Oats and Brioche
  • Surprisingly, Broccoli wasn’t the only vegetable – just look at Carrot, Turnip and Spud!
Dogs eating chocolate and things that are bad for them

6. Alcoholic drinks

Clearly Aussies love a drink – so much so that many dogs are named after a favourite tipple!

From Brandy to Bundy (Bundaberg Rum), Cascade to Ted (Toohey’s Extra Dry) – plus Cooper, Cider and JD (Jack Daniels) – many a dog has alcoholic beverage to thank for their name.

Then there’s also what effect alcohol has on us, like Tipsy: “After my brother died my mates who use to breed Huskies gave me a pup. We were out getting tipsy (drunk) the night they told me he was mine, and I was told he had a big spot on the tip of his tail. Well that’s the story we share, not the getting Tipsy (drunk) part!”

7. Sticking with a theme

For some people, naming isn’t a one-off concept.

Instead, they find a theme they like and stick with it for all the dogs they go on to share their life and home with.

Much like the sisters from British sitcom Keeping Up Appearances (Hyacinth, Rose, Daisy and Violet), flowers are a source of inspiration, as are plants. Space is another idea (think Nebula, Venus and Comet).

Other families opt for a letter rather than a theme and have each dog’s name start (or end) with the same letter. R and S are popular choices here.

8. Our heroes

Saving their owner in some way – from depression, grief, disability or trauma. So foreign, indigenous or Latin words for things like healer, hero, friend, saviour.

And in 2020, even COVID-19 acts as an inspiration for many – not the terrible virus itself, but words or characters from popular culture that are about overcoming global tragedy and pain.

We’re betting that Hope will be a particular favourite this year.

9. A memorable place

Some dogs are named after a memorable place that is special to their humans.

It could be the street on which you they were married, the town in which their first child was born or a favourite holiday spot.

We were surprised by how many dogs are named after small American towns, for instance!

10. Something they do

For some dogs, it’s simply who they are or what they do that makes a name “just fit”. Some are matter of fact, while others are meant to be tongue-in-cheek.

We particularly like Tiny the Great Dane; but spare a thought for poor Chuckie who was terribly car sick as a puppy!

11. Having fun with surnames

You could take the lead of some people who specifically use their surname to choose their dog’s name.

Harley, for instance, is a popular name in its own right. But it takes on an extra meaning for the Quinn or Davidson families!

12. It’s just fate!

Surprisingly often, it seems that a fate intervenes and names our pup for us. Perhaps something memorable about your first meeting with them – such as the street they were rescued on as a stray or something they first chew on. Or it may be a strange coincidence:

“I found a cat a couple of years before we got [our dog]. The cat was a feral stray and covered in spider webs – I wanted to call him spider, but my partner said no, so we settled on Ziggy. Fast forward to going to a shelter to meet and adopt a dog – the dog I fell in love with was called Ziggy… a sign? So, I named him Spider.”

13. Make it up

If all else fails, simply make something up for a truly unique dog name! You wouldn’t be the first to do so, as these dog parents show: “My partner’s last name is Van den Brink; my last name is Dawson. So, we both agreed something unique and different came up with putting our last name together: Vandaw.”

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