What’s in a Name? Breeders Share How They Pick Perfect Puppy Names

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Deciphering the registered names of show dogs can be a baffling process for the public.

“Why are the names so long?” “Is that how they call their dogs?” “What do all those letters mean?” “What language is that?” Those are just some of the comments heard when commentators announce show dogs by their formal names.

All breeders have their own formulas for coming up with the perfect names for their litters so they reflect the impressive pedigrees and history behind their lines. Some breeders require all puppies to adhere to a name theme; and others give owners more leeway in naming their new dogs.

We asked our breeders, “What’s in a Name?”:

Here are the fascinating answers:

Do you require your kennel name to be in all your dogs’ names?

Van Niel - Yes. I wanted a kennel name that reflected my Dutch heritage and my breed (Border Terrier). A Dutch exchange student staying with another breeder helped me with pronunciation and ensuring the words meant what I wanted. My kennel name is Aardehond (Aarde = earth and hond = dog).

Boyd - Yes, we require our kennel name to be a part of the dogs’ registered names.

 

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GChB DC Ableaim Patent Pending MC ROMXX (call name "Patent")

 

Bryant - Most of the time. However, if I sell a puppy that is only going to be a pet and won't be entered in any performance or conformation events, I have been known to let the new owner pick his or her own registered name. I only did this a couple of times, however, and with people I knew quite well.

Moran – Yes, I require Kasomor to be part of the dogs’ names if I have bred them.

Do you name your dogs or do you let the owners name and why?

Van Niel - My kennel name is always first, with the remainder of the registered name following the litter theme. I want my puppies to have happy/positive names, so have learned to preselect a group of names, with sometimes up to 20 choices or more, depending on the theme. That way my puppy owners can select a puppy registered name that speaks to them from the list, but it is also a name that I'm happy with, too.

 

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GCH Aardehond His Girl Friday

 

Boyd - We allow the new owner to assist in choosing the registered name, but he or she is given the letter of the alphabet we are using or the theme being used for the litter. We do ask for final approval before the registration certificate is sent in to AKC. Sometimes it takes a while for a decision to be finalized. I find the owners enjoy being part of the naming game, and several of our owners have sent me great names for future litters.

Bryant - I do let the owners pick their own names, however, in the registered name, the name must begin with my kennel name. The rest of the name is totally up to the new owner. The reason I want my kennel name on my puppies is because I take pride in what I have bred. Lots of my puppies go on to do performance events, and a select few, conformation. Having my kennel name on the registered name gives me a little bit of recognition, and I work hard making sure that every breeding is a good one. I have all the dogs I breed tested for all the problems that tend to plague Shelties, and I only breed to males that have had their testing done. I also breed for good temperaments and try to breed to dogs that will improve my female aesthetically. I take breeding very seriously, so I want the registered names to begin with my kennel name. It also makes keeping records with the AKC much easier, and I can look up my past puppies to see what titles they have earned or see their points progression much easier, also. If I sell a show prospect to other show breeders, I will allow them to use their kennel name in the puppy's registered name, but it must be listed somewhere behind my kennel name. For example, a friend of mine bought a show puppy from me, and he finished his championship a few years ago. His name is Crosswood Alexsea Sky's the Limit. Crosswood is my kennel name and Alexsea is hers.

Moran - The owners can name the dog whatever they want, as long as Kasomor is the first word, and I don't think the name is stupid.

Do you use themes – or do you go by an alphabet system - for your dogs’ registered names? Give some examples of favorite themes that you have used and some of your favorite names.

Van Niel - I do use a theme, and it varies depending on the litter. My first litter using my kennel name was all Scottish agates (I make jewelry and wanted to use the names of native Scotland stones). I also had a litter of four boys, which were dubbed the "Fab Four," and all the registered names were Beatles' song titles. My last litter was conceived in the Chicago area, so a combination of Chicago (the band) and Chicago (the musical) song titles were used. Some of my favorite names from those themes would be Aardehond Here Comes The Sun (Beatles), Aardehond Make Me Smile (Chicago), and Aardehond Campsie Fells (Scottish agate).

 

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GCH Aardehond Princess of the Hive, call name Bee.
 

Boyd - We have used the alphabet for a majority of our dogs, but occasionally decide to use a theme. I have found it easier for me over my 40-plus years in the sport to use the alphabet and can remember those dogs that were littermates from years ago because of a common letter being used. Every so often, we have decided to use a certain letter of the alphabet and incorporate that into a theme, as well. Our "O" litter was a frozen litter, and the sire was one of the top-producing sires in our breed. I decided to use the "O" along with the sire's call name, Reign. Pups from that litter went on to become: Dual Champion Ableaim O' Halleluiah It's Reigning Men SC; Dual Champion Ableaim Olympic Reign MC; GCh Ableaim Over the Reign Bow; Ch Ableaim Outrun The Reign; Ch Ableaim O' Reign Drops And Roses; and Ableaim October Reign.

We've had many fun names, using both the alphabet and themes. A few that come to mind that fit the dog's personality have been:

  • GChG DC Ableaim Que the Music SC (call name "Lyric") - she is very vocal and makes certain her demands are heard on a daily basis.
  • GChB Ableaim Question Me CD RE MX MXJ JC CGC CR OTR CAV (call name "MiMi") - she was returned to me around one year of age. The original owner didn't have time for her and wasn't sure he could finish her. She certainly proved there was no questioning her potential as an overachiever! MiMi has since whelped her first litter of pups - 10 total - 6 of these pups are pointed in the show ring now.
  • DC Ableaim Quantum Leap SC (call name "Leah") - after her owner having many excuses why she hadn't gotten her into the show ring, we took charge and started showing her in the month of July, finished her championship in early August. We started coursing her in September, and she finished her AKC Field Championship in December. Ms. Leah certainly showed she could tackle whatever challenge we put before her, all she needed was the opportunity.
  • DC Ableaim Play the Game SC (call name "Pete") - a great little dog that loved to please. He loved the sport of lure coursing and quickly learned how to handle the bigger guys and make quick, crisp turns to stay out in front.
  • GChB DC Ableaim Patent Pending MC ROMXX (call name "Patent") - a wonderful dog that finished quickly, was Winners Dog at our national specialty, and has gone on to be a top producer.
     

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Bryant - I actually do use themes. Most of my dogs have been named after country song titles or country singers. I had one that was named Reba as her call name and Crosswood Country Sunrise Surprise as her registered name. My oldest bitch is Kirene's Blue Angel. I did purchase her from a different kennel when I first got started with conformation. Blue Angel was an Aaron Tippin song. I also had a Crosswood When Stars Go Blue, which was a Tim McGraw song.

Moran - No, I don't require a theme name be used, and I don't use letters of the alphabet either. Naming a dog is so personal that I don't want to "steal" that joy from the new owner. Of course, if they need help, I will make suggestions for them. My personal dogs are named for hunting or guns: Kasomor's Shut Up N Shoot—call name is Bam; Kasomor's Pop 'Em N Drop 'Em—call name is Kimber; and, their mother’s name is Kasomor's Wack 'Em N Stack 'Em—call name is Tikka.

Why are dogs’ registered names important to breeders?

Van Niel - Each dog we breed becomes part of the overall breed heritage and history of a specific dog breed. I believe each dog is deserving of and should have a registered name that is not only respectful but also a positive reflection of who she or he is.

 

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Crosswood Snow Angel By A Misty Moon (call name Misty)

 

Bryant - The biggest reason is because it gives you recognition in the world of dog breeding, especially within your own breed. It also simplifies record keeping. Each puppy is important; it is like giving your child your last name. My dogs are important to me, and I want them to carry my kennel name in their registered name. It is a labor of love, and I work hard and put a lot of thought into a litter, so I feel I deserve to have the puppy's registered name begin with my kennel name of Crosswood.

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