Over two-thirds of American dogs are named something other than their parents’ names

How many Fücks and Gruffles did your cat or dog wear to walk the Aisle at the Papillion? If you chose a top 2014 pet name, that’s about to get a lot more difficult.

A quick look at our archives shows most popular pet names are changing rapidly. Twenty years ago, more than half of all dogs and cats were named something other than their parents’ names. Today, a smaller share — 21 percent — of cats and 22 percent of dogs share their parents’ last name.

That means more pet names have to be created for dogs and cats in 2015. “If your dog’s name is Bono, you’re going to need a new pet name very soon,” writes Garry Kent, online toy maker.co.uk’s editor.

But pet owners don’t have to jump on the genericization bandwagon: There are plenty of natural monikers that are still in demand. Since the last century, more than 30 percent of cats and 20 percent of dogs have been named Nancy, Polly or Paddy.

It seems the early 21st century pet name craze also reigns in Europe. German names are increasing in popularity. Among dogs, Berlin dogs now represent a whopping 38 percent of pets owned in Germany. The animals’ faces come in a variety of bizarre variations: A Fichturck (with a doodle) is the most popular name, while a Hohlkewerd is a combination of a German name and city.

Favorable conditions for dog breeders have also sent some purebred names to the top of the all-time list.

Chandler Smith, a Maryland dog breeder, has seen a long list of very popular names use their now trademarked codes: Notorious, with a Y, is second. The above-mentioned Paddy and Felix, with a “h” for city, are third and fourth, respectively. Von Medici, an Irish Irish setter, is the only purebred to appear in the top 10.

Not all purebreds are gaining popularity in the U.S., though. Take Lupe, for example. The breeds Brazilian-bred Belgian Malinois and Furbish puli are both dying out. Belgian Malinois, an easy-to-identify breed, have lost 32 percent of their current owners over the past 20 years. In the same time, rabies cases decreased by more than 50 percent. It may be an aging population, as well as tighter city planning rules and aggressive German shepherd breeders, but the bucolic image of these dogs may play a role in their plummeting popularity.

Perhaps some say it’s better to have a short, sweet name. After all, wasn’t meeting your car’s dealer going to be a lot more exciting to name your pet Pomeranian and watch them gleefully jump around in their front yard?

It turns out pets are wondering too.

This article originally appeared on Washingtonian in January 2015.

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