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The most popular pet names of the year

Bringing a pet into your home is an exciting time – after all, he or she will be a new member of the family to love, care for and enjoy, hopefully for many years to come. Amidst all the planning and anticipation, you will need to choose a name for your furry friend. This can be a lot of fun and may come easily, especially if you’re rehoming a pet whose name you wish to keep. On the other hand, if you’re having trouble finding inspiration, read on!

As for children, pet names go in and out of vogue. In recent years, the trend has been for owners to give their dogs and cats human names, although some of the traditional names (such as Buddy) are coming back into fashion. Knowing the most popular names can be a good place to start. When you find a few that you like, you can then decide which one best suits your dog or cat – a bit like naming a baby! On the other hand, you may feel inspired to be original and select a name that is more uncommon.

What were the top pet names of last year?

According to our own research, here are the top pet names of 2021!

Top 10 female dog names

1. Bella
2. Luna
3. Ruby
4. Molly
5. Coco
6. Daisy
7. Lola
8. Rosie
9. Lucy
10. Millie

Top 10 female cat names

1. Luna
2. Bella
3. Coco
4. Molly
5. Nala
6. Mia
7. Lily
8. Willow
9. Cleo
10. Daisy

Top 10 male names for dogs

1. Charlie
2. Max
3. Archie
4. Buddy
5. Milo
6. Ollie
7. Teddy
8. Alfie
9. Bailey
10. Leo

Top 10 male names for cats

1. Charlie
2. Simba
3. Leo
4. Milo
5. Max
6. Oscar
7. Loki
8. Jasper
9. Archie
10. Ollie

Other tips for naming your pet are to find a name that is somehow unique to their appearance, personality, breeding or even where they came from. Do they remind you of an animal character from a well-known movie, cartoon or book? Some people name their pets after famous people, celebrities or historical figures. You can also use a name search tool that generates pet names based on the categories you choose and the species and gender of your pet.

When naming your pet, consider that you will be using this name many times each day, including in public. Short names of one or two syllables are easiest to call out and may be easiest for your pet to recognise. For training purposes, it’s best to avoid any name that your pet could confuse with a request such as ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘come’ or ‘down’ or a name that rhymes with ‘No’.

Should you change the name of a rehomed pet?

Many owners wonder whether changing the name of a pet they rehome will be confusing to the animal. The advice from veterinary animal behaviourists is that renaming your new pet should not be a problem, because they would already be used to being called by different names (such as nicknames) and that the tone of voice and way of relating to an animal is just as important as the name we give them. If you do rename your new pet after adoption, the trick is to phase out the old name by combining it with the new name, then gradually dropping the old name and always pairing the new name with a reward such as a treat or praise. For example, if you adopt a pet called Jacko and want to call him Bobby, start by calling him Jacko-Bobby with the emphasis on Bobby, then move to calling him only by his new name.

Choose a name that fits your pet’s personality

Your dog or cat will no doubt be the best inspiration when choosing a name that fits their personality and as you get to know each other, don’t be surprised if you collect a few nick names along the way! Whatever you call your pet, the most important thing to them is your love, care and protection.

One way to help protect your dog or cat is to take out pet insurance, which can give you peace of mind knowing you can seek veterinary care if the unexpected happens. Plus if you’re with RSPCA Pet Insurance, a portion of first-year premiums support the RSPCA’s work to help animals in need.

Image of Dr Rosemary Elliot

Dr Rosemary Elliot 

Dr Rosemary studied veterinary science at the University of Sydney after having established her career as a clinical psychologist, and has qualifications of BVSc (Hons), MANZCVS (Animal Welfare), MPsych (Clin), BA (Hons) as well as previously establishing her career as a clinical psychologist. Her experiences during veterinary training fostered an ambition to focus directly on animal welfare and ethics, with a particular interest in animal sentience and the human-animal bond. Currently working in small animal practice, Dr Rosemary combines her psychology background and veterinary skills to contribute to and promote animal welfare, and regularly contributes quality content to RSPCA Pet Insurance's Pet Care blog.