Names for Black Dogs? Let's give them a leg-up in the adoption process.
October 29, 2009 6:36 AM   Subscribe

I need great, imaginative, appealing names for black dogs! A friend operates a rescue organization for dogs and cats, and mentioned how hard it is to find homes for black dogs (see Black Dog Syndrome)... and since I was already helping her come up with names, I thought I'd come up with a special list of Black Dog names that are perhaps evocative of personality types, and that might inspire interest so that potential adopters will maybe find their curiosity/sense of whimsy piqued and stop to at least read a description on the website, instead of just passing by any photo of a black dog. Some specific considerations inside...

This is in Greece, where most people speak at least some English, and are familiar with exported U.S. and British pop culture in general and pretty much any world-famous person/literary character/film character/music reference will be recognized. Non-Greek names for pets are popular, so recognizable English, Italian, German, etc. names are cool, but "sh/ch" and "j" sounds are difficult to for many to pronounce.

The names can have some reference to Black, but they don't have to. For example, I thought of "Kafka" for a smart, "intellectual" perhaps sort of "serious" boy dog... and that one just also sort of "feels" like a good name for a black dog to me. Names of one or two syllables are usually easier for dogs to recognize and respond to.

So gimmee your ideas for great Black Dog names! Gimme!
posted by taz to Pets & Animals (66 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
posted by youcancallmeal at 6:41 AM on October 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

Cash. (As in, Johnny Cash).
posted by quodlibet at 6:56 AM on October 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

Mephisto (as in Faust, where the likable demon Mephistopheles appears in the form of a black poodle).
posted by The Toad at 7:02 AM on October 29, 2009

posted by illenion at 7:06 AM on October 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Not sure if it would be politically incorrect or in bad taste in Greece, but what about naming them after many of the great black men and women of history?

Martin Luther (King Jr....or just Martin)
Nelson Mandela (or just Nelson, or just Mandela)
Malcom X (or just Malcom, etc.)
Muhammed Ali
Jesse Owens
Maya Angelou
BB King
Ray Charles
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:12 AM on October 29, 2009

My hunch is to go with a "human" name that has "black" or "dark" as an element of its meaning... that way if people don't know the meaning they just think it sounds like a cool name.

There are a few Irish names; name “Ciaran” means “little dark one.” You can also spell it “Kieran” or “Keiran,” and it’s pronounced “KEER-in”. Similarly, “Cronan” means “dark-skinned,” “Dubhlainn” (or “Doolin”) means “black sword”, and “Orin” means “dark-haired”.

If you like the Irish angle but don’t need to have it be “black/dark” referencing, Cuchullain was the hero of the Irish epic “Tain bo Culliage” – kind of like Ireland’s answer to Hercules. “Cuchullain” means “the hound of Cullan,” and refers to a legend from when Cuchullain was a boy and accidentally killed the chieftain Cullan’s prize watchdog – and offered to serve as the replacement watchdog until another one could be trained to take its place.

Finally, I found a couple different sites that suggest lots of names for black-colored pets.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:14 AM on October 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

Not sure if it would be politically incorrect or in bad taste in Greece, but what about naming them after many of the great black men and women of history?

This is a terrible idea, FYI.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:17 AM on October 29, 2009 [11 favorites]

Padfoot - the nickname of Sirius Black from the Harry Potter books. Alternatively, find what name is used in the Greek translation of those books.







posted by amtho at 7:18 AM on October 29, 2009

posted by corey flood at 7:21 AM on October 29, 2009

This might be clichéd in Greece, but there are some mythical hero names that sound like they could be good attached to a black dog. Ajax, Jason... or how about Odysseus' dog Argos?
posted by illenion at 7:21 AM on October 29, 2009

What's the Greek word for white?

As a child, I desperately wanted to name the family Dalmatian "Stripe" or even "Star." I was overruled and he was boring old stupid "Spot."

If that's kind of lame, then I'll just second Guinness.
posted by motsque at 7:23 AM on October 29, 2009

what about naming them after many of the great black men and women of history?

Yeah, some people are going to find this questionable. And how are you going to justify it if anyone asks? "Yeah, I just figured, she's black, and Maya Angelou is black, and they're both pretty awesome, so..."
posted by hermitosis at 7:23 AM on October 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

For black cats, in English, Jellybean is an excellent "adopt me I'm so cute" name. This would presumably work well for roundish black dogs. You can translate to Greek if the sound is too difficult, or the word is unknown. (FWIW, I usually choose Licorice for the second black cat.)
posted by jeather at 7:24 AM on October 29, 2009

On the pop culture front

The Wire
Bunk, Mcnulty, Avon, Carver, Kima, Clay, Cutty, Stringer, Lester, Beadie

Battlestar Galactica
Adama, Roslin, Helo, Starbuck, Cottle, Helo, Gaeta, Tigh

Hurley, Sawyer, Desmond, Walt, Locke, Libby

Im sure theres some naming gold to be found in X-Men also.
posted by Ness at 7:32 AM on October 29, 2009




Waits (nice dog name from the incomparable Tom Waits)
Stevie (Stevie Nicks! The Original Goth!)

Hamlet or Macbeth/Lady Macbeth
Timon (of Athens )

Good luck! Here's to black hairs sticking to clothes everywhere!
posted by rumposinc at 7:33 AM on October 29, 2009

Layla - (Hebrew for night)
posted by watercarrier at 7:39 AM on October 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Storm(y), Jet, Bart, and Shadow are names of Black dogs I've known that I thought fit well.

My Uncle had a Doxie mix named Spooky. She wasn't black, but I've always liked that for a dog name and think it fits the theme.

My wildcard suggestion for a female: Magpie! Could be nicknamed Maggie.

Are American football teams somewhat well known in Greece? Raider (as in the Oakland Raiders) may be cool for the right dog.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:39 AM on October 29, 2009

Others that just came to mind:

Profit (like "in the black" - not sure if that translates culturally)
Anise (may already be common in Greece)
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:48 AM on October 29, 2009

Onyx is pretty cool sounding.
Ebony --- I imagine this for a very demure female pup
Midnight --- my aunt and uncle had a black dog named Midnight. Very good dog.
Blake comes for mind if for nothing else but Songs of Experience
Noir seems a possibility.
Jett is a pretty kickass name for a dog, though it poses the "j" problem

I hope they all find good homes!

(Oddly enough, with the rabbit rescue I not so much right now volunteer with, the trouble is white bunnies. All white bunnies don't get adopted as much as other bunnies. So we started a "Dreaming of a White Bun" campaign in winter and share stories on the website about white bunnies, talk up the white bunnies, and make a real push for them since it takes so long usually. Maybe there's a time of year or a yearly event that your friend could utilize to start up a similar push-for-adoption campaign?)
posted by zizzle at 7:54 AM on October 29, 2009

Angus. He's back in black! Or Ozzy (Black Sabbath).

I personally would name a black dog Ali G and use it as an excuse to say "is it cos I is black?" on my dog's behalf. Not sure how well that would go at an adoption center though.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:56 AM on October 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by 23skidoo at 7:58 AM on October 29, 2009

Moon or Dream, with a hearty seconding for Spooky.
posted by thoughtless at 8:01 AM on October 29, 2009

posted by Wordwoman at 8:02 AM on October 29, 2009

We named our all-black dog Sirius, so this is my favorite (though obvious name).

Obsidian (bit of a mouthful though)
Black Dog

(on preview, some of these have been mentioned already, so n'thing them)
(also on preview, Anubis - yes!)
posted by widdershins at 8:05 AM on October 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have a wonderful black dog I named Winnie, as in Winnie the Pooh.

Also, I heard Blanco once for a black dog and I like it a lot.
posted by monkeymadness at 8:17 AM on October 29, 2009

I've known the following pets:
--a black lab and a black cat, both named Pepper,
--a black cat named Kiwi, a reference to the New Zealand rugby team, the All Blacks
--a black cocker spaniel named Paladin, Pal for short, for the character in Have Gun—Will Travel who dressed in black
posted by angiep at 8:17 AM on October 29, 2009

sooty for small dogs. blackie. stealth. panther. twilight. hendrix. ninja. char. loco. smith (as in blacksmith).
posted by hungrysquirrels at 8:18 AM on October 29, 2009

My black dog is named Lola and my black cat is named Phil. They're both from the SPCA, but Lola didn't have a name yet when she was adopted. Phil's shelter name was Hallow.

How many people actually keep their animals' shelter names? And will a catchy name really make people stop and look on a website?

I mean, we found Lola on a website, but we were specifically looking for a black lab mix puppy. I chose Phil when I was in the shelter. I was looking for a black cat (and there were at least 20 there) but I chose her for her personality, not her name.

A name has never made me consider an animal more because 1. Personality is more important and 2. I'm going to change the name anyway.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:29 AM on October 29, 2009

My black dog is Masha, for the (female) Checkov character who always wears black. Presents the sh sound problem, but it's internal, don't know if that makes it easier.

posted by rainbaby at 8:40 AM on October 29, 2009

Elsie - the OP seems to be quite clear that this is a web marketing exercise and isnt under any illusions that these names will be kept nor be the deciding factor in an adoption.
posted by Ness at 8:43 AM on October 29, 2009

I've known entirely too many black retrievers named Shadow or Bear, which may not be a problem in Greece.

I own a black dog whose registered name is Tisiphone (called Tizzy) but...yeah.
posted by Electric Elf at 8:43 AM on October 29, 2009

My black dog is named Riddick. Because he's Pitch Black and a bit of a badass.

Only useful if there are any action/sci-fi movie, Vin Diesel fans in Greece.
posted by jamaro at 8:54 AM on October 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nibs (like cocoa nibs)
Chips (like chocolate chips)

Black pets that I have owned were Sam a Persian cat, Zeus a small poodle mix, and Trouble a small mutt.
posted by onhazier at 8:55 AM on October 29, 2009

posted by watercarrier at 9:08 AM on October 29, 2009

If I recall correctly, Tim Allen had a black lab that he named "Spot" after its (one, very large) black spot.
posted by madmethods at 9:10 AM on October 29, 2009

I'd actually recommend that you avoid black-themed names unless they're also adorable. Food names are good (Jellybean! Pepper! Nibs! Chips!) and also just cute-sounding other names (Batty). I think that the shelter should be trying to emphasize how adorable and wonderful the dogs are in order to get them out and adopted. While I think that Anubis and the like are cool names for dogs, I'm far more likely to squeal over, I don't know, a Charlie, if I come across one on petfinder.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:31 AM on October 29, 2009

My black dog is named Adrian, which has nothing to do with his color, but I get to yell "yo Adrian!" to make the dog come.
posted by Flannery Culp at 9:34 AM on October 29, 2009

Worth repeating from the OP:

"The names can have some reference to Black, but they don't have to."
posted by hermitosis at 9:44 AM on October 29, 2009

posted by water bear at 9:48 AM on October 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine adopted a black cat from a shelter, and was told, "Just don't name him Midnight," because of how common the name is. So, she named him 11:45.

My aunt and uncle had a black lab for many years who was called PB, short for Pitch Bitch.

I agree that for inspiring potential adopters, going for warm fuzzies or a laugh is probably the better approach instead of trying to give the animal a "forever" name. Half of them will be called Midnight, Blackie, Bear, Max, or whatever the Greek equivalents are when they go home anyway, so might as well name them Little Bunny FuFu, Lefty, Deeohgee, Spidey, Hugo, or whatever will make the shelter visitors smile when they see/hear it.
posted by notashroom at 9:53 AM on October 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

There is this dog I keep seeing on Petfinder named Robert Downey Jr.
posted by hamsterdam at 9:57 AM on October 29, 2009

Snowball or Snowflake
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:59 AM on October 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by okbye at 10:26 AM on October 29, 2009

posted by watercarrier at 10:31 AM on October 29, 2009

My black dog is also named Sirius :) Looks like that is a popular one. He has a serious demeanor because he was born with no tail, so we thought it fit for several reasons.

The rescue we got him from was calling him Onyx, which I actually hated as a name. I agree that you should try to give the dogs cute, goofy names, not names like Midnight or Mystery or something like that.
posted by crinklebat at 10:47 AM on October 29, 2009


posted by twistofrhyme at 10:55 AM on October 29, 2009

My favorite black dog was called Schwarzen but kids will always make this Fartzen in the US.
posted by jet_silver at 11:01 AM on October 29, 2009

Use friendly "real dog" names. If you're trying to counteract the fear of black dogs, don't use names that draw attention to the fact that they're black. At least a third of the dogs that have been in the family (between my dad's dogs when I was growing up and now mine) have been black, and they always got "standard" dog names, although sometimes they were meant ironically.

Casey and Tyler were standard dog names, Smoky was ironic. Cinders was the only one who had a "black dog" name, and she was a friendly small Cocker Spaniel -- the only people she scared were people who were scared of dogs in general.
A friend had a big black Lab named Mandy.
Another family had a big Newfie they called Winston.
posted by jlkr at 11:22 AM on October 29, 2009

the black labrador who was my best friend growing up was named Blackjack (sorry, it has a J - but a high recognition factor - it's a game played all over the world)

i miss Blackjack... :(
posted by jammy at 12:24 PM on October 29, 2009

I have a friend with a huge black lab named "Herschel" as in Walker. He's a big ole' teddy bear.
posted by pamspanda at 12:25 PM on October 29, 2009

My all-time favorite dog was an all-black Lab/Collie mix my Ex named Lollypop II after a previous dog she had adopted from the pound and who died too soon. Of course, I called her Lollie and claimed it was after her Lab/Collie heritage. Of course, Black Labs could also have "Lab" names like Bunsen, Beaker, Edison, Bell or Frankie, short for Frankenstein.

I just like dog names that have both short and long forms, like Huckleberry or Huck (the cartoon Hound of that name is BLUE, fergawshakes!)
Winky short for Winky Dink (after an ancient cartoon character)
Flip (for black comic Flip Wilson) short for Flipper (for the porpoise)
Fozzie short for Fosbury (for the high-jumper)
Barker short for (here it comes) Bob Barker (he USED TO have black hair)
Pokey short for Pokemon or Poker Face
and Bubba short for nothing...

We also had a rescue dog who was black with white markings, pre-named Maxine/Maxie. Lollie had a brother named Shadow, a logical black-dog name, but still a cute one to me. And after I grew up, my parents got a grey poodle they named Coco, after Ms. Chanel.

I endorse many of the previous suggestions as fun, bright names that can still be applied to black dogs: Bart, Ozzie, Pal short for Paladin, Starbuck (for the coffee AND the BSG character), Batman (or Bruce Wayne?)

Pete is the black dog/cat(?) who's the bad guy in old Mickey Mouse cartoons, but hey, Mickey & Minnie are black too!
posted by wendell at 12:31 PM on October 29, 2009

posted by liquado at 1:39 PM on October 29, 2009

While neither is his actual name, I will occasionally refer to my black dog as blacula or bark obama, as the situation demands.
posted by gordie at 1:58 PM on October 29, 2009

Evermore - as in the Battle of.
posted by yclipse at 2:01 PM on October 29, 2009

After Shirley Temple was married her new surname was...Black.

Ambassador Black
Shirley Temple Black
Shirley Temple

I also like

sugar (we named alllll of our white cats this, but I think it's funny for a black animal)
magic (as in black magic)
rorschach (or whatever they call that blot test in Greek)
posted by bilabial at 3:25 PM on October 29, 2009

posted by Dr.Pill at 4:39 PM on October 29, 2009

To expand on Ness's answer: Not just Avon, but Avon Barksdale!
posted by ignignokt at 4:49 PM on October 29, 2009

Blackie Lawless
posted by medeine at 6:00 PM on October 29, 2009

Probably too obscure for Greece, but:

posted by tangerine at 7:10 PM on October 29, 2009

posted by darth_tedious at 7:22 PM on October 29, 2009

Peanut--i've always wanted to name my dog peanut

Bobama--after the first dog
posted by choochoo at 9:35 PM on October 29, 2009

I'm currently fostering a black dog called "Tar". Also, kind of off-topic but in case your friend doesn't already know: a knowledgeable photographer can go a long way toward making black dogs look more photogenic for web sites etc (I do this for a local greyhound rescue).
posted by primer_dimer at 7:53 AM on October 30, 2009

posted by Oireachtac at 9:54 AM on October 30, 2009

Chaya ('shadow' in Sanskrit and Hindi, 'life' in Hebrew)
Thor (the company Thorlabs was named for the owner's black lab named Thor...)
Kali (a black Hindu goddess associated with eternal energy)
Chocolate (or Godiva, Valrhona, etc)

Oh, and N-thing Guinness
posted by pointless_incessant_barking at 3:10 PM on October 30, 2009

I love my adopted black minpin named Dracula.
posted by raygan at 4:26 PM on November 2, 2009

My black Lab was Lennon.
posted by brujita at 11:43 PM on July 17, 2010

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