Baby Name Wizard.
I was recently given the best kind of name-geek treat: a peek at a whole new data set. Vetstreet.com mined its records to find the dog and cat names that have risen and fallen the most in popularity over the past decade. (You can read Vetstreets report on the rising and falling names, including comments from me, on their site.) Ive seen other lists of popular pet names, and even compiled some myself. Its clear that pet names are increasingly chosen from the world of human names, with Max and Lucy supplanting Spot and Fluffy. But looking at the specific names that are trending up and down is revealing -- about how we view our pets, and about how we view different kinds of names. Looking at the Vetstreet trends as a whole, here are some of the big themes I see: Which Animals Are Most Human? Both research and intuition suggest that giving an animal a human-style name generally points toward a more human-style role for the pet in the family. Based on names, then, dogs are treated as more human than cats. (Supporting this idea: the phrase "my dog is my baby" yields four times as many Google results as "my cat is my baby.") Theres another way to read the movement from Snowball and Shadow toward Diesel and Thor. Its a movement away from physical descriptions of pets, toward names that indicate personalities or roles. Thats yet another sign that pets are viewed more and more as companions and individuals. Its telling, I think, that despite the powerful trend toward human names, Buddy is challenging Max for the #1 spot among dogs names. Following Human Name Trends.
The narrowing cat-dog gap looks like a move toward pet equality, but a new gap is rising -- a gender gap. I was fascinated to see that female pet names are trending human much faster than male pet names. The numbers in the previous paragraph showed that 72.5% of the top pet names are common human names. That turns out to break down to 50% of male names, 95% of female. Whats more, single-sex pet names are soaring. The fast-falling names are full of unisex classics like Snowball, Lucky, Whiskers, Pepper and Shadow. The fast-rising names names are almost all sex-specific. In fact, for dogs even the hot non -human names are ultra-macho ones like Diesel, Tank and Thor. Apparently, we want to be secure in our dogs masculinity. Looking Past Looks.