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The Bird Dog Name Game

Photo by Nancy Anisfield / Anisfield Hunting Dog Photography

Photo by Nancy Anisfield / Anisfield Hunting Dog Photography

According to DOGWatch, the newsletter from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, a study of close to 500,000 Veterinary Pet Insurance policies shows pet owners in general tend to prefer people names for their dogs. Currently the most popular dog names are Bella, Bailey, Max, Lucy, Molly, Buddy, Daisy, Maggie, Charlie and Sophie. This is not necessarily true, however, for hunting dog owners.

A few years ago I did some highly unscientific research on dog names. I went through one month’s records of the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association’s test results for Natural Ability and Utility Tests, grouping dogs’ registered names into categories to look for trends. I disregarded the kennel part of each name, and I also skipped tongue-twisting German names, most of which had more than 37 letters per word. My goal was to see where hunting dog owners’ creativity led them.

Max was the most popular human name, but in the people category I discovered a curious, if not notorious, cast of characters such as Outlaw Josey Wales, Orphan Annie, Goliath, Cleopatra, Daisy Duke, Valentino, Buster Brown, DB Cooper, Jesse James, Son of Sam (!) and D’Artagnan. Owners of a more lyrical bent chose names to delight the senses, such as Rhythm of the Tide and Ray of Light.  Gun names were big – Citori, Benelli, Browning, Kimber, Ruger and Red Ryder. Important hunt-related designations showed up, too: Reload, Decoy, Scout, Gunner, Hunter, Silver Bullet, Buck Shot and I Can Pointabird.

Good will and positive thoughts sparkled from optimistic names such as Coasting Smoothly, New Beginnings, Revelation, Feeling Groovy, Practically Perfect, Bound ‘n Determined, Symphony of Dreams, Radiance of Paradise (try to live up to that name!), Razzle Dazzle ‘Em and Amazing Grace.

EZ Come EZ Whoa apparently came pre-trained.

Power names appeared in spicy (Hot Pepper, Black Pepper, Sage Pepper), climatological (Stormbuster, Speak Thunder, Rainmaker, Perfect Storm) and downright scary (Blazing Howl).  Adult beverages were a source of inspiration, as well. There were dogs named Budweiser, Zinfandel, Absolut, Rolling Rock, Bourbon Sippin Broad, and Jaegermeister.

Before drawing the totally superficial, statistically unconfirmed conclusion that hunters are inspired by notoriety, good vibes, hunting, booze and power, I checked  the most recent posting of NAVHDA test scores. Sure enough, Cleopatra and Artemis filled the famous name category; Ricochet, Camouflage and Hunter were on the hunting list; and Epiphany, Ace in the Hole and Luck Be a Lady joined the positive team. Power names included High Explosive, Solar Flair and Shock & Awe, with Grey Goose and Stolichnaya at the bar.

My research is not over. I’m not sure what category Moose in the Woods belongs to. And I’ve started to wonder…what if Bucky Badger met Nothing But Trouble who was actually Born to Boogie, then found Heart’s Afire but wanted No Strings Attached when he discovered the dog Ain’t No Pussycat?

Nancy Anisfield, an outdoor photographer/writer, sporting dog enthusiast and bird hunter, serves on Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Board of Directors. She resides in Hinesburg, Vermont.

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12 Responses to “The Bird Dog Name Game”

  1. Steve Horton says:

    My first dog, and first hunting dog, was when I was a kid, and the dog was a Beagle named Steve’s Calico Patches, or Patch for a call name.

    My first bird dog was named Paterplace Elhew Dixie, or Dixie. I was torn between Daisy and Dixie, but since she was a southern girl, went with Dixie.

    My dad always told me to name a dog with a one syllable name, just to make it easier to call them in the field. He also suggested a name that would not sound bad when yelling it.

  2. Rob says:


  3. Greg says:

    Black Lab named “Beni” which was short for Benelli’s Super Black Semi Auto Retriever

  4. Ron Hinshaw says:

    Black Lab Named Seabass Attn: Dumb and Dumber”Kick His ass Seabass” Never ran across another Seabass in the field and when I call him most people cock their head sideways like a confused puppy. Also fun to say

  5. Shayla says:

    We had a small litter, only two pups – we loved the name Sawyer for the male, so we did Bristol Hill’s Tom Sawyer and Bristol Hill’s Huckleberry Fin – we call the male Sawyer and the female Finley :)

  6. Charles says:

    Guinness was the appropriate name for a GWP born on St. Patrick’s Day.

  7. I try fun names to match the dog’s personality or colours of a dog. I have one with a perfect diamond shaped patch on his neck so his name is Diamond. another matched the personality of the dog Shiloh from the books so Shiloh is his name. my third dog I named cause I rescued him from a bad situation and he smelled of smoke terribly so he got the name Smokey. I have a female whos kinda a devil so I named her Princess kinda opposite but kewl. never named them after guns ammo or beer never used long german names or those silly pedigree names show people are so fond of. Keep it simple keep it fun.

  8. Keith Hill says:

    My last dog was a GSP great hunter and loved the water and her name was IZZY best dog I have had in a long long while

  9. Bob Richards says:

    My brother always wanted to name his dog Damn It. As in, “Damn it get over here”and “Damn it don’t do that!” and “Damn it why DID you do that?” That’s what he called them anyway so he thought he may as well name them that.

  10. Larry Voltz says:

    I currently have a 1 yr. old German Short-hair / Wire-hair cross. Her name is Kelda, a fictional character found in stories of Thor. Her name is suppose to represent enhanced strength, durability and longevity. After having her long legs run through some very dense prairie cover like a hot knife through butter, I think the name was fitting.

  11. Bob B says:

    We have a 2.5 year old Britney Spaniel / Yellow Lab mix named Remington. He’s the best!

  12. Chuck D says:

    How about a griff welped on Christmas eve- Rudolf


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