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Most Popular Names … for Dogs

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has just released its annual list of the most popular dog names. I will list them below and, just for kicks, I’ll put in parentheses each name’s rank among the most popular boy or girl baby names in the U.S. If a dog name doesn’t have a number next to it, that means it hasn’t been among the 1,000 most popular boy or girl names in the U.S. in the past 15 years.

1. Max (165)
2. Lucky
3. Princess (738)
4. Rocky (965)
5. Buddy
6. Coco
7. Daisy (149)
8. Lucy (174)
9. Lady
10. Shadow

I can’t say the list of top dog names was very surprising, but it is interesting how certain human names work for dogs (Max and Lucy and Daisy) and others don’t (I’ve never met a dog named Michael or Kate or Emily). I will admit I was surprised to see that Princess made the top 1000 in girls’ names. And Lucy, FWIW, is more popular for baby girls than at any time since 1942.

It would be fun, of course, to see what kind of people give their dogs what kind of names, and what those names are meant to accomplish. We’ve written before on aspirational naming, on the black-white naming gap, and more casually on criminal names and just plain old amazing names.

But even if we could get hold of the data on NYC dog owners, there’d be a serious limitation. As we’ve written before, the vast majority of NYC residents don’t register their dogs. The list above, therefore, represents the most popular dog names among the fraction of law-abiding dog owners who do go to the trouble to register their dogs. Not quite a representative sample. So, since it’s the holidays and lots of you have free time, maybe some enterprising readers want to go and start canvassing dog owners who haven’t registered their dogs to find out what their names are. Given the ratio of unregistered dogs to registered ones — the city puts it at 4:1; other estimates put it at 10:1 — they shouldn’t be very hard to find.