The Most Popular Names for British Pets

Dubner recently blogged about the most popular dog names in New York City. Now reader Nancy Callahan brings to our attention the 2006 list of top dog and cat names in the U.K. Granted, the list might be more accurately titled “The Top Pet Names of U.K. Residents Who Purchase Pet Insurance” — it was compiled by Direct Line, a pet insurance company that created data from the names chosen by its customers. The results show that, among these relatively high-end pet owners at least, “Molly” is the No. 1 name for both cats and dogs (as well as being the “Whitest Girl Name in America” as per Freakonomics). Note that “Muhammad” is nowhere to be found.

As Callahan notes on her blog, the pet list overlaps heavily with the same year’s 100 most popular children’s names in England and Wales (a list that differs somewhat from the boys’ name rankings reported by the U.K. Times, which covers all of Britain). In fact, the similarities are so great that only one name in the canine Top 10 isn’t also found on the human list. Here are the results, along with each name’s corresponding rank on the list of child names:


1. Molly (24)

2. Max (29)

3. Charlie (10)

4. Holly (26)

5. Poppy (30)

6. Ben (11)

7. Alfie (16)

8. Jack (1)

9. Sam (8)

10. Barney (-)


1. Molly (24)

2. Charlie (10)

3. Tigger (-)

4. Poppy (30)

5. Oscar (47)

6. Smudge (-)

7. Millie (20)

8. Daisy (25)

9. Max (29)

10. Jasper (-)


No one on this blog likes cats, Melissa. You can drop all reference to them in the future.


I don't believe 'Amber' deserves any further comments. Good one too.



egretman, speak for yourself...I think cats are delicious


now why isn't anyone naming their child 'smudge'? i can't think of anything more appropriate.


Oh boy. I have a son named Jasper, a dog named Max, and once had a cat named smnudge. Apparently, I'm not terribly creative about names.


I was kind of guessing that “Muhammad” wouldn't be on the list - not simply because people tend not to name their pets after their prophets, but also because dogs are considered dirty, filthy animals according to the Koran. In fact, the cultural overlords of Iran (aka muslim clerics) have cracked down on dog ownership in Iran because the very practice of having dogs as pets is "unislamic".

From the BBC:
"A conservative Iranian cleric has denounced the "moral depravity" of owning a dog, and called for the arrest of all dogs and their owners."


Who would name their child Poppy?

T chick

I dunno about Muhammad, but Osama's a good name for a cat - it means "lion." Of course, your vet might not think it's so clever. Or your neighbors, if the cat goes missing and you have to go calling for him in the street.

Of course, when I was a kid, our cat was named Oedipus, so I may have been warped.


I like cats.


Story about our son's name. Initially, my sister had two cats (boys) called Madison and Lexington. A few years later, living in Paris, we named our son Madison. Unexpectedly, shortly thereafter, we moved to NY to find the name plastered everywhere and the name had become popular and [unbelievably] feminine (thanks to that film Splash). We have since changed his name to Oscar which I now note is a favorite cat's name. Seems like a circular story!


I know a Molly who's a dog


I mentioned this to my British neighbour, who has cats named Molly and Millie. She said it's because there's a set of children's books starring someone named Milly Molly Mandy.


Note the lack of stereotypical names from children's lit: no Spot, Blackie, Fluffy, Moppet, Mittens, Rover, Lassie, Clifford.


Razela asks, "Who would name their child Poppy?"

Perhaps the parents of actress Poppy Montgomery of the TV show "Without a Trace."

Prof. S.

Nobody's mentioned this, but this list is based upon "Residents Who Purchase Pet Insurance."

Now, not to be a jerk, but if you're the sort of person buying pet insurance, I'm willing to be that you're more likely to be one of these people who use pets as pseudo-kids. They take a higher level of importance in your life than you standard blue collar dog owner.

That being said, we shouldn't be all that surprised that the names fall a bit more in line. If you're going to think of your pet as a child, then why not name it like a child.


We human Mollys have known this for a long time: we can't introduce ourselves without somebody remarking that his cousin has a really sweet black lab called Molly.


i have a dog named leroy.. as in "bad bad leroy brown".. i liked leroy from the start, but i hope i havent put him on the wrong track..:(

Tamara Farrell

My cats' names will never be found on ANY list,anywhere! Their names are Bug, Circe,& Mah-Jongg. Does anyone else's cat (or dog) share those names?


Why are 3/4 of all dachshuns named Heidi ????


I have a cat named Margaret Mary Maloney it is a fine name and she is a fine cat