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The story behind every great dog name is as unique as the dog himself. Naming a dog can have unintended consequences though. Here are 5 tips that may help.

As I sit here sewing my car liner for the third time (read Big Dog Mom’s Most Glaring Weakness Revealed And It Will Surprise You if you have no idea what I am talking about), I am blessed with an opportunity for reflection.

Being forced into mending monotony, my mind is drifting to a happier place.

Dog names.

Why, you ask?

Because my dog’s names make me laugh.  Constantly.  And because I believe there is a story behind every dog’s name which becomes the essence of who they are.

Dog Name Junior Mastiff - 4
© 2021 Big Dog Mom, LLC

Dog Name: Junior

Let me reenact a typical outing with Junior.

“Wow, he’s huge!  What’s his name?”


“Oh, ha ha ha, that’s too funny!”

Sometimes people will go on to explain why they are laughing.

“Junior, ha ha ha, that’s like calling him Tiny! Ha ha ha!”

This conversation occurs literally 100% of the time when I take Junior out in public somewhere.  As soon as I say Junior’s name, people laugh.

In fact, my daughter told two new friends at school Junior’s name and they laughed too.  Even 11-year-old girls are in on the joke it seems.

The name Junior is not synonymous with being small any more than the name Big Dog Mom is synonymous with me being a Big Mom.  Ha!

“Junior” is a suffix used if a child’s first, middle, and last names are identical to his parent’s names.  In this case, Junior, Jadems Bigger Bang, was a singleton puppy out of Sheldon, Jadems Big Bang.

Not an exact match, but close enough.  And not the least bit small.

I decided early on that I would choose to laugh with these people, only not for the reason they think.

Dog Name: Sulley

Dog Name Summer Fun For Dogs -6
© 2021 Big Dog Mom, LLC

After discarding the names Ozzy, Si, and Junior (yes, true story), my children and I compromised on the name Sulley. 

As the blue-collar and biggest boy in his litter, Sulley was named after the huge, huggable blue monster in the movie Monsters, Inc.  Sulley’s registered dog name is Devincourts Monstrosity, CGC.

As perfect as I believe Sulley is, unfortunately, no dog name is perfect.

“Wow, he’s huge!  What is his name?”



“No, Sulley.”


“No, Sulley.  Suh, uh, Sulley.  Like Sullivan, only shorter.”


Good grief…

In the spirit of stories that make me laugh, and because I have several more hours of sewing to look forward to, one afternoon I took Sulley for a walk around our neighborhood.  We bumped into some men for whom English was not their native language.   I asked if they’d like to meet Sulley and naturally they did.  Who wouldn’t?

“Wow!  He’s big dog! How old?”

“Sulley is 2 years old”


“His name is Sulley.”


“His name is Sulley.  Like Sullivan.” (I’m not messing around anymore.)

Looking at each other quizzically, one of the men bent over and looked underneath Sulley then asked again, “Name?”

I answered “Sulley” for the third time, made some more broken English chit chat and politely resumed our walk.  It wasn’t until I was almost home that I realized what had just happened.  Those men probably thought I said “Sally” and they looked under Sulley perplexed by his big boy parts.

Now, THAT made me laugh!

A Great Dog Name Tells A Story

So, while the six letters in Sulley’s name may have created unintended mass confusion and Junior’s name the butt of paradoxical jokes, both boys’ names reveal the essence of who they are.

Junior is a ham and so very much like his father, Sheldon.  Junior peed in the house until he was four months old (read How To Potty Train A Puppy Fast In 5 Easy Steps) and has stolen AND lost more shoes than I can count.  

He regularly swipes things that are not his while I am walking right behind him.  Junior is an extremely affectionate boy with indifference for personal space.  His greeting methods have resulted in routine expressions such as “love me less” and “close your legs.”

Sulley, on the other hand, is sweet and sensitive and has complete and total reverence for personal space.  He is playful and happy and wants nothing more in life than for people and canine friends to like him.   

He lives for “bye-byes,” “swimming,” “ball,” and anything that involves “his kids.”  Much like his monster namesake, Sulley has a more serious side that has verbally protected “his kids” on more than one occasion from would-be intruders to our home.  He is a true gentle giant.

5 Tips For Finding The Best Dog Name

Dog Name
  • Choose a great breeder who will provide regular videos and pictures of your new puppy and details about his or her temperament.  Based on all that we had seen of Sulley, we knew at 6 weeks old, he was no Ozzy.  If you haven’t already selected a breeder, read Selecting A Dog Breeder? 10 Things To Consider Before You Tie The Knot! and Top 7 Questions To Ask A Breeder When Buying A Big Puppy.
  • Consider other dogs in your puppy’s pedigree.  What were his parents’ names?  Grandparents?  What were their personalities like?
  • Choose a dog name that has meaning to you and your family.  My husband loves to snowboard; Burton.  My children loved Monsters, Inc.; Sulley.  And I love a good paradox; Junior.
  • Shoot for a one or two-syllable dog name with a consonant as the first letter.  Something short, crisp, and easily distinguished from other words you use regularly.
  • Have a list of favorite dog names ready, but wait to make it official until you meet your new puppy.  It could be that the dog name picks him as soon as he bounds through the door.

Story Behind Your Dog’s Name

My children love to hear the origin of their names.  My son gets a kick out of the fact that we hemmed and hawed and didn’t pick his name until we got to the hospital.  And when we finally did, I spelled it wrong and had to spend the next two weeks frantically trying to fix my mistake with the Social Security Administration. 

Needless to say, my son was able to pronounce  P-R-O-C-R-A-S-T-I-N-A-T-I-O-N at a freakishly young age.

Dog names are just as fascinating to me.  I would love to hear the story behind your dog’s name?   How did you pick the name?  Does it fit the essence of who your dog is?  Let me know in the comments below.

Consider sharing this with a friend so we can hear their stories as well.

I may be sewing for a while and could use a little break from the mending monotony.

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  1. I never thought of this as so involved … but it is. When I was in middle school, we adopted our first family cat, and she was named Kitty because no one would admit to a better name. I always felt a bit bad about that because it wasn’t personalized. Bear was named Pooh Bear (sweet like Pooh and he gives bear hugs) – but he was a little troublemaker and it’s a lot easier to get out “Bear!” so I dropped the “ppoh.” Most people also assume he’s a dog since Bear is a top ten common dog name. Ugh. The name is still perfect though! We just adopted Ellie and I haven’t really thought about changing her name to suit her. She was named by the rescue according to the litter of kittens she was born into. I’ve started calling her “sweetness” or “precious princess” though … and she doesn’t seem to know her name either so it would be relatively easy. You’ve given me something to think about! Thank you for linking up!

    1. Thank you so much! See when you start to think about it, names can be so interesting! I love hearing how each one gets, or in Bear’s case earns, his or her name.

  2. We don’t have super fun stories behind our names. Barley was named Maria at the shelter and that didn’t fit her at all, so I decided to go with something related to my love of craft beer. I thought about Stout, but my mom said that would give her a complex over her weight, so we ended up with Barley. Much like Sulley, people often say, “Marley?” and I say, “But with a B instead of an M.” I knew Rye also needed a beer-related name like her sister, but couldn’t pick the right one, so she went by Puppy Wuppie for the first 24 hours until my sister suggested Rye.

  3. Well, it’s a long story. When I first started the Great Puppy Hunt, I was only looking for one puppy. Then a friend at work had a niece and her Golden was having puppies. I immediately wanted one, but then I thought about two. So…we started brain storming cute ‘pair’ names. Jack and Jill, Bonnie and Clyde, Sampson and Delilah. Eventually we decided to only take one puppy, and it was a Golden (she had 1/2 a litter of black lab looking pups, and 1/2 yellow lab looking pups.) male. But we were already in love with the name Sampson, so Sampson it stayed. Flash forward a few years when I determined Sampson needed a companion. I found “Ginny” on Pet Finder via American Lab Rescue. Hubs agreed to adopt a Chocolate Lab if she could be re-named, Delilah. (FYI, I was perfectly content with Ginny, as she was one of my favorite characters in the Harry Potter books.) So, there it is.

    I love your dog’s names, and what a fun post!

    1. Thank you so much, Jodi! What a cute story! I love that you finally have your completed pair, Sampson and Delilah! I can appreciate the temptation you had to take two puppies initially, but it turned out the best for both dogs that you didn’t. Oh, and for the record, my daughter would have held to her guns on the name Ginny. She is also crazy about Harry Potter and changing that name would have been akin to committing sin in her mind. Haha!

  4. Stuart Little..people laughed! He got about 90+ lbs..a Bullmastiff big and a lover, goofy at times and learned to say Momma and called my Mother Grandma. He’s truly a Stuart Little (except size) into mischief and so much love to give and so easy to love!

    1. Oh, my that is a cute name! I bet people laughed! He sounds like such a character and not all that different from the character Stuart Little. Love it, thank you!

    1. Thank you so much, Jodi! I am beyond thrilled and honored to have been featured in the Pet Blogger Showcase this week! I laughed… the picture of the dog winking is my Junior. I thought it was a funny picture because his name has been such a source of humor for me over the last year. You wink when you have an inside joke.

  5. I went round and round thinking of the perfect name for my newest addition, a Cane Corso. I finally decided on Whisper….. most people thought it was “too gentle for a huge dog”. I thought it appropriate since she is constantly “whispering” cute, cuddly sounds. She also responds best to “soft tones”. But my son-in-law came up with the best reason for the name. He said when she decides to take a big adventure on her own traveling down the road at full speed ahead, she will surely hear me call her even when she gets far down the road since my yelling for her will sound like a Whisper to her at that far distance and come running back home.

    1. Aww, I love this! I love the little bit of a contradiction between her name and her breed – at least the stereotype of her breed. My guess is when people hear her name they immediately warm up to her. Your son-in-law is a very smart boy – his reason for her name is the best! Thank you so much for sharing this!

  6. My 2nd mastiff’s name was Bryga (Bree-jah) When we went to look at the litter, she was the pick female. We held her. First my Dad, then my Mom. By the time she got to me, she was sold. When we put her back in the whelping box, she ripped up the bedding & then stopped & looked at the sleeping pile of her brothers & sisters. She bounced over & jumped in the middle of them. When I named her, I went for meaning. Bryga means “high & mighty” She lived up to that until the day she died.

  7. Love your dogs’ names! Ours don’t have such fun stories, but they are Lincoln, an abandoned stray Malinois mix, Quinn a ball-crazy Aussie, Janey, an elderly Aussie we took in when she was 12, Lucky, a 13 year old chihuahua that we rescued after he was thrown out a car window, Sera, short for serendipity, a red tri mini Aussie that came looking for me, Reba, a red mini Aussie and her sister Jessie, also a mini Aussie.

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