You’ll call your dog’s name many thousands of times over the next decade-plus. That’s especially true of hunting dogs, whose names you will have to yell at the top of your lungs in the field some days. Pick a name that sticks and won’t wear out with repeated use. Be sure it doesn’t rhyme with any commands, but after that, you can pick whatever name you want. Just make sure it’s exactly the right name for your dog. No pressure. To help put you on the right track, here’s is a list of the 30 best dog names, according to me.

“Bella” continually places high on the list of most popular dog names. Sometimes things are popular for good reason. Bella is easy to call, and it’s a pretty name. “Luna,” “Sadie,” “Daisy,” “Rosie,” as well as “Maggie” and “Molly” all rank high on the popularity list, too, and they all work.

“Max” is an all-time favorite. It’s hard to go wrong with it, except you’ll be yelling the name of half the dogs at the dog park when you call Max. “Buddy” is good, so is “Bear.” The classics endure.

“Shiloh” is a great choice. Use it after the popular series of novels for young readers, for the Civil War battle, or for the Hebrew name meaning “place of rest.” You can’t go wrong with “Shiloh.”

Best Male Upland Dog Name

photo of a dog carrying a rooster pheasant
Here’s an idea: Call him “Rooster.” John Hafner Photography

“Rooster” works for a male pheasant dog, as “Ruff” or “Ruffy” would for a grouse dog.

Best Female Upland Moniker

“Covey” is the name that one of my gun-writing colleagues came up with for his female English setter. I think it’s perfect.

Best Waterfowling Male Names

“Goose” makes a good retriever name. If you hunt ducks more than geese, you could go with “Sprig” or “Gaddy,” or my new favorite duck-dog name, “Spoonie”

Best Waterfowling Female Choices

“Wigeon” or “Teal” make good duck names for female duck dogs.

an upland bird dog brings a pheasant to its owners feet
You could name pup after your favorite shotgun. John Hafner Photography

“Remi”  is a favorite of many, and especially those who shoot Remington guns or ammunition.

“Nelli” (for Benelli) or “Elsie” (for L.C. Smith) make good choices, especially if those are the guns you shoot.

Best Random-Noun Choices

“Hatchet”—a seemingly random-noun name chosen by another colleague—is a perfect dog name.  Why “Hatchet?” It doesn’t matter. It’s a great name. I knew a dog named “Lemon” once. That worked, too. “Fence,” however, was a random-noun dog-name too far.

Best Real-Person Dog Names

“Gipper” was the name of a Brittany owned by a friend and Notre Dame alum. If there’s someone you admire, name a dog after them. My father named a dog “Bix” after trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke. “Bix” was a great dog name.

Best Fictional-Person Choices

“Jem,” after Scout’s brother in To Kill a Mockingbird makes a good name for a male dog. Come to think of it, “Scout” works for a female dog, too.

Frequently Asked Questions

What name means “loyal dog”?

“Fido,” one of the classic dog names, celebrates one of the classic traits of dogs: loyalty. “Fido” is derived from the Latin fidelis, meaning “faithful.”  According to dog legend, the original Fido lived in Italy from 1941-1958. A street dog adopted by a brick kiln worker and his wife, Fido followed his master to the bus stop every morning, and met him there every night. After his owner was killed in an Allied bombing raid, the story goes that Fido continued to go to the bus stop every night to wait for him for the next 14 years.

Can a dog dislike its name?

“Call me anything, just don’t call me late to dinner” pretty much sums up how dogs feel about their names. They are fine with whatever you call them so long as they have positive associations with the name—like food or affection. If you only used a dog’s name when you disciplined or abused it, it would learn to fear its name, just as you learned to fear your full name when your mother used it prior to sending you to your room.

Can I change a dog’s name after two years?

Yes, you can change a 2-year-old dog’s name. It may take a little while—it varies from dog to dog—but a dog can be renamed even after it grows out of the puppy stage. I got my first hunting dog as a year-old cast-off from an owner who called him “PeeWee.” For his self-esteem, and for mine, I renamed him “Sam,” which he learned right away.