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Literary Pet Names: Canine Edition

Derek Attig

Staff Writer

Derek works in graduate student career development and is (believe it or not) one of the world's foremost experts on the history of bookmobiles. Follow Derek on Twitter @bookmobility and on Instagram @bookmobility.

About a year ago, I told the story of naming our first cat here on Book Riot:

Ichabod Perfect

In telling the story, I also suggested a passel of awesomely literary cat names. But over the past year, I’ve felt like I left all my dog-people friends out of the fun. So here are some amazing, incredible, sometimes ridiculous literary pet names, all bookish, for dogs. Wouldn’t one of them be perfect for your next dog?

The Obvious (but still pretty awesome)

There seem to be more named canine characters in literature than feline, so you can pretty easily go down an obvious route and name your dog after a literary dog. There’s Pongo, Buck, TockCujo (if you’re a risk-taker), Blue, Clifford, Pugnax (perfect, obviously, for a pug), Zar, Dogmatix, Snowy, TotoWellington, or Searchlight. If you want a more fanciful (or at least more complicated) obvious name, try The Hound of the BaskervillesDisreputable Dog, or Know-Nothing Bozo the Non-Wonder Dog.

All the World’s a Stage (for your dogs’ antics)

Where cats often don’t seem to care whether you pay attention to them or not, dogs live to perform and for applause. A theatrical name is thus ideal. As might be expected, if you want to go in that direction, Shakespeare’s a font of naming options. There are elegant ones (like Timon, Horatio, Oberon, Fortinbras, Lennox, Cymbeline, Gertrude, Laertes, Mercutio, and Titus), mildly goofy ones (like Ajax, Banquo, MacduffIago, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Snug, Benedick, and Mopsa), and just plain gonzo ones (like Bottom, Dogberry, Gobbo, Peaseblossom, Oatcake, and Doctor Butts). If your theatrical tastes run more minimalist, and more modern, there’s Pozzo, Estragon, and Godot. Or if you’re in the market for something really spectacular, you should try Topdog/Underdog. Come on. You know you want a pet with a punctuated name.

Classics (in several meanings of the word)

A dog isn’t a chinchilla or a kinkajou; it’s not trendy or unusual. It is, instead, a solid, classic pet choice. So If you want to go with a really classic name, there’s Argos, Virgil, Cerberus, JunoAchilles, Ganymede, and Charybdis. A little more recent (relatively speaking) but still pretty classic, there’s Britomart, Mulciber,  and the Blatant Beast. Or even more recent: Fairfax, Georgiana, RosamondColonel DentRip Van Winkle, Stuffy, Dr. Bangs, Werner, Old Boisterious, Pickleherring (perfect, I think, for a wee little corgi), and—for a particularly mischievous mutt—The Great Devil. Classic children’s literature more your style? What about Matilda, Charlie Bucket, Gloop, Wormwood, Veruca Salt (bonus 90’s music reference!), Bogtrotter, or The Giant Peach?

Geeky (and nerdy, too)

Dogs aren’t, I think, quite as geeky/nerdy as cats, to be honest. But they do—like their cousins wolves—pop up with some regularity in fantasy literature. And there are some good options in this geeky direction. In a nod to my partner, who loves the still-abortive Exiles trilogy, what about Glenin, AmbraiMaichen, Cailet, AgatineVal, Falundir, or Gorynel? Or, since what are dogs but even furrier little hobbits, we could go with Took, Flambard, Bungo, Jolly Cotton, Proudneck, and Nob. And then there’re the geek-a-riffic authors themselves. Try Russ, Ursula, Abbott Abbott, Ballard, Bradbury, RawnJanusz, Scalzi, Aldous, and more.

Bookish (in another way)

I’ve always been a fan of dogs named after things. (I’ve long wanted, for example, a corgi named Lunchbox.) So what about dogs named after bookish things? Like Folio, Atlas, Database, Index, and Stacks. Or Pages, Paperback, Dewey Decimal, EndpapersBookmark, Dogear, or Interlibrary Loan.

What am I missing? What other literary names would be perfect for dogs?


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