The most popular dog names of 2020

Photo: AKC National Championship.. Image Courtesy Nick King
Photo: AKC National Championship.. Image Courtesy Nick King /
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Photo: AKC National Championship.. Image Courtesy Nick King
Photo: AKC National Championship.. Image Courtesy Nick King /

What are the most popular dog names of 2020 for male dogs?

Teddy (2019 No. 10) and Duke (2019 No. 9) both fell out of the most popular dog names for male dogs in 2020.

No. 10 – Jack

2019 rank – No. 7

Jack is a nickname for John/Jonathan, which is Hebrew for “gift of God,” though often thought of as an English name. And dogs are certainly good gifts in our lives, so it makes sense.

This often goes to action heroes, like jack Ryan (John Krasinski, Harrison Ford and others), and it could also be a reference to 24‘s Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), or the Jack of Lost, or possibly even Bill Pullman’s character in the amazing romcom While You Were Sleeping.

No. 9 – Rocky

2019 rank – No. 5

Rocky just sounds tough. It’s probably a reference to the boxers Rocky Marciano (he actually existed) and Rocky Balboa (fictional), or possibly the 1960s actor Rock Hudson. Also, Wesley once had a guinea pig named Rocky.

No. 8 – Bear

2019 rank – No. 9

A bear is, of course, a colossal fuzzy animal. Since some guard dogs vaguely resemble them, that’s probably how they get this name. Could also be a reference to the NFL’s Chicago Bears, or British adventurer/TV personality Bear Grylls.

No. 7 – Leo

2019 – Outside Top 10

This comes from Latin for “lion,” with possibly the same vague inspiration as Bear? That, or it’s after actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Either way, this is a little puzzling.

No. 6 – Oliver

2019 rank – Outside Top 10

With Arrow ending this year, that likely led to a spike in new puppies named after Stephen Amell’s Oliver Queen. According to Lansky, Oliver either comes from Latin and straightfowardly means “olive tree,” or it’s Scandinavian in origin and means “kind and affectionate.”

No. 5 – Milo

2019 – No. 6

Milo is a German alternative form of Miles, which means “soldier” in Latin and “merciful” in German. (Also, “millstone” in Greek, apparently.) Those are good traits in a dog, so it would be a good choice.

On the other paw, Milo always feels more like a cat name than a dog name, though it could work for dogs in novels written during the 1920s.

No. 4 – Buddy

2019 rank – No. 4

Buddy is a colloquial synonym of “friend,” along the lines of “pal.” So it’s pretty much one of the default dog names when you need something generic. Baby Name Wizard speculates it may have originally been toddlerspeak for “brother.”

Buddy the Golden Retriever from the Air Bud franchise is the most famous canine holder of the name, and famous humans named Buddy include rock and roll pioneer Buddy Holly and actors Buddy Ebsen (The Beverly Hillbillies) and Buddy Hackett (The Love Bug, The Little Mermaid). 

No. 3 – Cooper

2019 rank – No. 3

A cooper was someone who made barrels; like Bailey, it’s one of those last names that has gradually morphed into a first name, though since the time of eighteenth-century poet and hymn writer William Cowper the spelling has changed slightly.

Modern-day Coopers might be named after actor Gary Cooper (High Noon, The Pride of the Yankees) or the character of The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons).

No. 2 – Charlie

2019 rank – No. 2

Charlie is a shortened form of Charles, which means “farmer” in German or “strong and manly” in English. Our friend Charlie Labrador is one of many dogs of social media with this name, and other famous Charlies include the actors Charlie Chaplin and Charlie Sheen, and Charlie Brown of Peanuts.

It can also be used for girls sometimes as a nickname for Charlotte, as in the Disney Channel sitcom Good Luck Charlie, or George’s Poodle friend Charkie in the Curious George TV series.

No. 1 – Max

2019 rank – No. 1

Max is a shortened form of Maximilian, which comes from Latin for “greatest.” So it’s very fitting that it reigns yet again as the most popular dog name for males. (It could also come from Maxwell, which is English for “great spring,” but that doesn’t make as good a storyline.)

More to the point pop culturally from our pawspective here, Max is also the name of Goofy’s son, and the name of the Grinch’s dog as well.