RSPCA’s top pet names for 2016 revealed

Top animal names
Top animal names

Traditional pet names are the most popular for Britain’s dogs and cats, a new survey by Southwater based charity RSPCA has revealed.

More than 1,200 people were surveyed by the animal welfare charity to discover what pet owners choose to name their dogs and cats, with results showing that the same pet names are still being chosen compared to six years ago.

In 2016, Ben or Benjamin was the most popular name for a male dog - with Max and Alfie in second and third, respectively - while Poppy was the most popular name for a bitch, closely followed by Daisy in second and Maisie in third.

Fifteen years ago, in 2001, a similar survey also saw Ben come in at the top with Max in second while Bonnie was the most popular name for females. Sam and Jack were also in the top 10 for males while Poppy and Rosie were also included. Toby, Ellie and Meg have dropped off the lists this year, however.

In 2016, the most popular name for male cats was Bob with Charlie in second spot and Smokey in third. Bella was the most popular name for female felines, while Molly came in second and Jess in third.

The 2001 survey saw Tigger or Tiger take the top spot which in 2016 failed to make the list. Charlie came in second six years ago - the same as today - and Misty took third, but has since dropped off the list completely. Tom, Smokey, Poppy, Sam and Sooty are all still popular today but Harriet and Blackie have disappeared from the list.

RSPCA animal welfare expert Lisa Richards said: “Our results suggest that names of our pets can follow trends in baby names as well as popular culture.

“Bob could be popular among cat owners due to the popularity of the book and film, A Street Cat Called Bob, while dog names such as Alfie have surged in popularity not just among pet owners but also parents.

“In fact, if you compare these lists with the 2016 list of the most popular baby names there is some crossover. Jack, Charlie and Bella - or Isabella - all make the top 10 lists for baby names and pet names.

“But there are some important things to think about when choosing a name for your pet such as keeping names short, avoiding any that sound like a behaviour you will want your dog to do or are similar to the names of anyone else in the home.”

General advice about choosing pet names

Keep the name short - one to two syllables - as names with three or more syllables could be more difficult for dogs to recognise and memorise;

Avoid names that sound like behaviours as it could be confusing eg. “Sid” sounds like “sit” “Oliver” sounds like “roll over”;

Avoid names that sound like the names of other members of the household, or rhyme with those names, as this could also be confusing;

It’s believed that dogs can hear the ‘s’ sound much more intensely than humans, and also that they respond best to words that include hard consonant sounds.

Teaching your dog their name

To help teach your dog their name they need to associate it with positive things eg. by being rewarded when they look at you. If you use their name to shout at them it can be really confusing and could make them frightened of you, so next time you say their name they might not be so keen to respond and may even hide.

Using your pet’s name

How we use their name and other commands is important too - they will come to us more readily if we use a high pitch, repeated request rather than lower pitched noises;

If you use their name too often they may end up ignoring it altogether. Use their name enough that they learn it, but not so much that they begin to disregard it;

It’s important to be precise - when we ask our dogs to do something we should start with their name, so they know it’s for them.