10 Cool Dog Names and the Stories Behind Them

The first task of any new pet parent? Pick a name! With so many options to choose from (and often so many people weighing in on the decision), it can be a challenge to find the perfect fit for your unique new friend. The DogWatch team has met a lot of dogs over the years, and we’ve compiled some of our favorite dogs names, along with the stories behind them. Maybe your dog’s new name is on this list, or it will inspire you to find your own unique name for your dog!

Odysseus and Argos

Odysseus and Argos

Argos

Looking way back to the days of the ancient Greeks, Argos is one of the first literary dog names. Argos is the name of Odysseus’ faithful dog in Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. When Odysseus returns home to Ithaca in disguise, Argos (now much older than when his owner left him) is the only one in the household who recognizes him immediately. By choosing this mythic name, you’ll be honoring the very first fictional “man’s best friend.”

Ashley Whippet

Do you see a lot of frisbee time in your dog’s future? Name him after the first champion frisbee dog, Ashley Whippet. Ashley was a Whippet (no surprise) who became famous in 1974 after he and his owner Alex Stein hopped the fence during a nationally televised Dodgers game and demonstrated Ashley’s remarkable frisbee-catching skills in front of a roaring crowd at the stadium and on TV. Stein was eventually forced off the field and ordered to pay a $250 fine for trespassing, but by then Ashley was already famous. The dog would go on to win the first three “Catch and Fetch” titles at the World Frisbee Championships. What athletic dog wouldn’t be happy to be named after this dog sports legend?

Asta

Asta in After the Thin Man trailer

Asta in After the Thin Man trailer

Fans of Old Hollywood, look no further than Asta, the adorable canine companion of the crime-solving duo Nick and Nora in The Thin Man films of the 1930’s. The Wire Fox Terrier (played by a male dog named Skippy in the first two films) nearly stole the show from his charismatic human co-stars William Powell and Myrna Loy. He helped them track down perpetrators and even saved them from danger! Asta is a perfectly glamorous name for your playful and savvy new partner-in-crime.

Balto

Balto with musher Gunnar Kaasen, who traveled the last leg of the Nome serum run. Photo by Brown Brothers, circa 1925." title="Balto with musher Gunnar Kaasen, who traveled the last leg of the Nome serum run. Photo by Brown Brothers, circa 1925.

Balto with musher Gunnar Kaasen, who traveled the last leg of the Nome serum run.

If you’re looking for a heroic name to match your superhero pup, we suggest Balto. The black Siberian Husky was the standout in a team of sled dogs and riders who traveled over 600 miles in blizzard conditions to retrieve an antidote to save the residents of Nome, Alaska from an outbreak of diphtheria that ravaged the town in 1925. Balto kept his team and leader Gunnar Kaasen safe on the trail, and even stopped just in time to save the team from falling into an icy river. There is a statue of Balto in New York’s Central Park in honor of his important ride.

To learn more about Balto, check out our blog post all about the heroic Husky and his dangerous mission.

Comet

Did you rejoice at the news that Netflix is bringing back the beloved 90’s sitcom Full House? OK, not everyone is excited, but I bet there are still quite a few of you who can’t wait to see the Tanner family back together for more adventures, jokes, sibling rivalry and life lessons about growing up (or, in the case of the reboot, growing older). If you’re a dog owner who wants to show off their love of this 90’s classic, then pick the name Comet, in honor the Tanner family’s sweet Golden Retriever. (By the way, did you know that Buddy, the dog who played Comet in Full House also played the dog in the movie Air Bud? Totally cool!)

Pal

Pal as Lassie 1942

Pal as Lassie, 1942

Everybody knows the name Lassie, the most famous fictional dog of all time. But if you want to honor the Rough Collie in a different way, why not name your pup after the first dog who brought Lassie to life on screen – Pal? Not only did Pal star in seven feature films from 1943-1951, he traveled around the U.S. greeting fans and performing. Retiring in 1954, Pal passed away four years later at the remarkable age of 18!

Pompey

Pugs originated in China but are often associated with the Netherlands – ever wonder why? It all began with Pompey, a pug belonging to William I, Prince of Orange (also known as William of Orange) in the 1570’s. One night, the Pug alerted his owner to enemy soldiers lurking near his tent, giving him time to flee and saving his life. In gratitude, William named the Pug the official dog of the House of Orange. His family later introduced the breed to England, when his descendant became King William III of England. Heroic and royal? Sounds like the perfect name for your new arrival!

Sergeant Stubby

Sergeant Stubby

“Miss Louise Johnson & Stubby in animal parade”

We don’t even need to tell you the story – the name is already so great, right? Well, Sergeant Stubby has a story even greater than his fabulous name! The mixed breed dog (possibly a Bull or Boston Terrier mix) served in 17 battles during World War I, performing vital roles including alerting troops to incoming gas attacks, locating missing soldiers in between the trenches and boosting morale. At the war’s end, the brave dog received a medal from Gen. John J. Pershing, commander of the American forces in Europe, who saluted the dog’s “heroism of highest caliber” and “bravery under fire.” Stubby may not have looked striking at first glance, but his tough facade belied an inner strength and loyalty that are worthy of celebration.

Tock

The Phantom Tollbooth Book Cover, Illustration by Jules Feiffer, copyright Random House, 1961.Here’s an unusual one. Tock is the name of the dog in Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, a classic of children’s literature, published in 1961. Tock is a literal “watch dog,” and has an alarm clock built into his body. He befriends the novel’s young protagonist Milo as the boy journeys through the strange and idiosyncratic world of the Kingdom of Wisdom. Tock is a great name for a family dog, as it not only celebrates a wonderful book but also suits the furry friend who will travel with the little ones of the family through their own imaginary worlds.

Uggie

Is your new dog a born performer? If so, consider naming him or her after Uggie, the canine star of the Oscar-winning 2011 film The Artist. Uggie was the sidekick of silent movie star George Valentin, played by Oscar winner Jean Dujardin. The Jack Russell Terrier runs, jumps, chases, plays dead – you name it, he’s on it! To many, Uggie’s performance was the highlight of the charming film. After The Artist, Uggie became a worldwide celebrity. He appeared on numerous TV shows, attended the Oscars and even “wrote” a memoir. Capture the movie magic at home with your Uggie!

Does your dog have an interesting, historical or unique name? Share it here in the comments or on our Facebook page, and we may feature him or her in a future blog post!

Photo Credits

Argos: “OdysseusArgos” by Jean-Auguste Barre – Originally uploaded on english wikipedia by en:User:Gurvey. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Asta: Screenshot from After the Thin Man trailer, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Balto: “Balto with musher Gunnar Kaasen, who traveled the last leg of the Nome serum run,” Photo by Brown Brothers, circa 1925, via Wikimedia Commons.

Pal: Photographer: Dell Mulmey, Quinault, Washington – eBay itemphoto frontphoto back. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Sergeant Stubby: “Miss Louise Johnson & Stubby in animal parade,” Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, photograph by Harris & Ewing, [LC-DIG-hec-31070].

Tock: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, Book Cover Illustration by Jules Feiffer, copyright Random House, 1961.

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