By Noah Sheidlower and Radhika Marya, CNN
This year, dog parks may be filled with more pups named Grogu, Britney and Zoom.
Rover.com, the app and website that connects users with pet-care services, has released its ninth annual report on the year’s most popular pet names, which include those inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic — and of course, celebrities. Soaring pet adoption rates, combined with extra time spent at home, led to some fascinating pet name trends, according to Kate Jaffe, director of brand marketing at Rover.com.
“Some people may pick a name that they just think really reflects their pet’s quirky personality,” Jaffe told CNN. “But at the end of the day, what they’re really trying to do is honor the relationship they have with their pet and give them a name that showcases their pet’s personality and also shines a little bit of light on their own personality.”
Developed between September and October, the report was based on millions of user-submitted pet names that owners provided when registering on Rover.com.
This year, Covid-inspired names were on the rise — dogs named Zoom were up 443%, while the name Fauci rose 270%. Home tech-inspired names such as Siri went up 131% and Google went up 63%.
According to Nicole Ellis, a certified professional celebrity dog trainer at Rover.com, names like Zoom are often chosen since they remind owners of an unprecedented time when they developed closer relationships with their pets.
“That’s the time we can look back and be like, ‘A puppy (with a) Covid-related name, did you get him during Covid?’ and now we have a great conversation starter,” Ellis told CNN.
Celebrities and musicians also heavily inspired pet names. Dogs named Boseman increased 1,063%, while cats named Chadwick went up 400% in honor of late actor Chadwick Boseman. Britney Spears’ conservatorship battle influenced dog names Britney Spears and Jamie Lynn, while Crazy — perhaps inspired by her 1998 hit song — increased 68%.
“People feel like they’re living a little bit with a celebrity, and for most of us, our pets are our celebrities in our lives and what make us so happy and excited,” Ellis said.
On the flip side, cats named Ellen declined 129%, while Kanye and both Taylor and Taylor Swift trended down. Jaffe expects Taylor Swift-related names to increase in 2022, as well as Adele.
As some fans fill stadiums this football season, others took their obsession with the sport to a new level. DK, inspired by Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf, was the top trending football dog name, up 563%. Gronk, after former New England Patriot Rob Gronkowski, was the top trending football-inspired cat name, up 276%.
Many dog owners who missed live sports also longed to travel, leading to a surge in names inspired by foreign — particularly French — foods. For dogs, the name Caviar was up 800% and Dijon up 700%. When it came to cats, Baguette rose 600% and Raclette went up 300%.
“As people are a little travel-deprived, they’re looking to pet names as a way to remember some of the things they miss, and when we give our pets a name inspired by our favorite food or our favorite travel destination, it’s a way for us to kind of live that fantasy,” Jaffe said.
This year, the top name for female dogs is Bella, followed by Luna, Lucy and Daisy. For males, Max takes the top spot, followed by Charlie, Milo and Buddy. The humanization of pets has continued to grow — 61% of pet owners said their pet already has a human name. Others said they would give their future pet a human name.
The way these top names sound is also a factor behind their popularity. Most pet owners would feel comfortable yelling human names in public, according to Ellis. Many of these names also sound distinct from things owners would ask their dogs to do.
According to Ellis, “super simple, short, and positive names” are best for dog owners, as well as names that can be shortened. Ellis prefers two-syllable names for dogs since they roll off the tongue easily.
Next year, Jaffe expects to see the continued influence of pop culture in pet names, as well as names inspired by more niche interests and passions.
“We all want our dogs to feel loved or feel special, so that happy feeling is really important, and that comes with a name,” Ellis said.
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