Analysis how human is your dogs name see the names of people most common in dogs

Magnum Hermosa
7 min readDec 19, 2022
Analysis how human is your dogs name see the names of people most common in dogs

If you meet a Kevin, he’s probably human. But Bella, Luna or Max? Don’t be so sure.

Some names are used for people. Some names are used for dogs. And then there are the Jacks and Rileys and Angels of the world, who live in the magical place where humans and dogs overlap.

Our friends across the Atlantic recently noticed the trend of dogs being named after humans, and we wondered: How often to be dogs with human names? To find out, we examined the names of 61,000 dogs available for adoption on the Petfinder website, comparing them to baby names in Social Security records dating back to 1880.

How human is your dog’s name? How canine is your name? Enter a name below to find out.

Gustavus is a mostly human name

// @ts-ignoreMoredogMore dogGustavusMore human// @ts-ignoreMorehuman

In a stadium of 100,000 people and 100,000 dogs, 3 dogs and 11 people would be mentioned Gustavus

See mentioned adoptable dogs Gustavus

Note: Data includes the annual list of the 500 most popular baby names since 1880 and any name shared by three or more adoptable dogs

It turned out that about 1 in 7 Petfinder dogs had names that are also commonly given to babies. But within this subset of dogs named after humans, there is huge variation in the popularity of certain monikers. For example, only about 1 in 2,000 of the Petfinder doggies was named Kevin. But other names — Bonnie, Jackson, Hunter — had substantial overlap between babies and pups.

George: the people-est dog name

Top 300 adoptable dog names, by percentage of Americans born since 1880 with name

Percentage of named dogs

Percentage of people with a name

George is the people’s est names for dogs

Top 300 names among adoptable dogs, by percentage of Americans born since 1880 with name

Percentage of named dogs

Percentage of people with a name

George and Kevin are the best names for dogs

Top 300 names among adoptable dogs, by percentage of Americans born since 1880 with name

Percentage of people

with name

Percentage of named dogs

George and Kevin are the best names for dogs Top 300 names among aby percentage of Americans born since 1880 with name

In the frenzy of trying to figure out if our dogs were secretly humans (if we were secretly dogs), we noticed two trends. First we saw a lot of female people names among the adoptable dogs. The data confirmed this: About 20 percent of female dogs had names that were also common among American humans, compared to about 10 percent of male dogs.

And second, there weren’t many 20th century human names among the dogs. It turns out that when adoptable dogs have human names, those names are often very old-fashioned or very modern.

Many current favorites because dogs like Daisy and Charlie were in the top 50 baby names around 1880, when the Social Security Administration started keeping track. But on the other end of the spectrum, the three most common people names for adoptable dogs are extremely au courant: Bella, Max and Luna all of them reached the peak of their popularity for babies on or after 2010.

Dogs borrow very old and very new names from people

Names that occur in both dogs and humans, very popular as a baby name every year

Percentage of Adoptable Named Dogs:

Bella became the most popular baby name 5 years after the publication of “Twilight”.

Dogs borrow very old and very new names from people

Names common to both adoptable dogs and humans, by year of greatest popularity for babies

Percentage of Adoptable Named Dogs:

The ninth most popular dog name, Charlie, was the most popular baby name in 1881

Bella became most popular as a baby name in 2010, five years after “Twilight” was published

Human names for dogs are often very new or very old

Names common to both adoptable dogs and humans, by year of greatest popularity for babies

Percentage of Adoptable Named Dogs:

Bella became most popular as a baby name in 2010, five years after “Twilight” was published

The eighth most popular dog name, Charlie was most popular as a baby name in 1881

The baby name Jasmine reached the peak of its popularity in 1993, a year after “Aladdin” was released

Human names for dog

Percentage of Adoptable Named Dogs:

The №1 dog name, Bella, became most popular as a baby name in 2010, five years after “Twilight” was published

The eighth most popular dog name, Charlie was most popular as a baby name in 1881

The baby name Jasmine reached the peak of its popularity in 1993, a year after “Aladdin” was released

To verify that these trends were not specific to shelter dogs, we compared our findings to the names of dogs living with their owners in New York City and Seattle, where owners register their dogs’ names to get pet permits. Bella, Max, and Luna were the top three dog names in both the shelter dogs and the NYC/Seattle dogs.

We did see some differences further down the list: the adoptable dogs had more Dukes, Brunos, and Bears, while the owned dogs had more Teddys, Luckys, and Princesses.

We here at the Department of Data are dedicated to exploring the strange and wonderful power of the data that defines our world. Read more.

The most popular human names, including James, Michael, and Mary, were barely present in either list of dogs. And of the 61,000 adoptable dogs, only three were named Robert.

Why Are These Common Baby Names So Uncommon Among Adopted Dogs? The name Jack — common among both dogs and babies — gives us a clue. Nicknames are generally much more popular with dogs than formal first names. There were 10 times as many dogs named Bobbie as dogs named Robert, and three times as many Billys as Williams.

However, even these nicknames rarely make the top 100 dog names.

So what makes a dog a Michael, an Edward or a Mary? We reached out to the shelters to find out.

Some dogs have human names because, well, they’re named after humans. A labrador and shepherd mix in California was named Michael after a kennel worker. Others got their names because they corresponded to specific pop culture characters. The Mary at the top of our story is named after a similar cross-eyed character in a Jethro Tull song. Michael and David in Oklahoma were rescued together as vagrants, earning them names from the 1987 movie “The Lost Boys.”

Dogs named Michael, inspired by, from left to right: a kennel worker, a “Lost Boys” character, and singer Michael Jackson. (Photos courtesy of BARC Rescue, the Humane Society of Lincoln County, and the Northern Oklahoma Humane Society)

But shelter workers said the human names aren’t usually based on specific dogs’ traits or circumstances. Rather, these dogs are named in thematic batches to help deal with the sheer number of pets moving through animal welfare organizations. One shelter we spoke to changes theme every month and uses names inspired by soups, street names, and country and western singers.

So Edward, a shepherd, got his name as one of a group of Jane Austen dogs (along with Darcy and Marianne). Another Michael was part of a litter of puppies named after the Jackson 5. One of the Marys was one of three sister dogs named after the witches in the 1993 movie “Hocus Pocus.”

A dog named Mary in Mount Pleasant, SC, inspired by one of the Sanderson sisters in the movie “Hocus Pocus.” (Photo courtesy of Libby and Mace’s Place)

In some cases, a human name can help secure an adoption. Leslie Granger, president and CEO of the animal welfare organization Bideawee, said: “We often hear from adopters that they felt an instant connection, because the dog shares a name with their mother or best friend.”

“We give human personality traits to our dogs and cats,” says Granger, who owns cats named Maximus and Harry. “They’re more part of our family now, so human names are a better fit.”

Acting undersecretary of data Andrew Van Dam is on a top-secret mission this week to decipher a data treasure trove. But don’t worry, Department of Data Special Agents Alyssa Fowers and Chris Alcantara are here to quell your data curiosities. Welcome Agents Fowers and Alcantara!

Bye, data fiends and data friends! The Department of Data depends on your measurable questions. What are you curious about? Does anyone repair anything themselves? Why did the Census Bureau stop tracking births at sea? Which states have the most electric cars per capita? Just ask!

If your question inspires a column, we’ll send an official Department of Data button and ID card. This week’s first button goes to Amber Thomas, who so generously made the code public for her 2019 story about transporting shelter dogs. The second button (finally!) goes to Andrew Van Dam for his guidance and encouragement (and suggests there might be something to this dog-with-people-names thing).

To read more about the dogs depicted in the story, check out their adoption profiles here: Dirk, squint Mary, Gustavus, Nora, Michael (named after a kennel worker), Michael (named after a “Lost Boys” character), Michael (named after the singer Michael Jackson) and Mary (named after a witch in “Hocus Pocus”).

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