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Can I Name My Baby After the Dog?

I am 7 months pregnant with my 4th (and last) boy. The name we are strongly considering is Jasper, however, that was also the much loved name of our much loved dog - my "first baby" - who has been dead now for over 5 years. As we live somewhere new, no one knows it was our dog's name, only family and older friends. I love the name, he was a great dog, and I am running out of boy names! Is it OK to call my new son by this name? -- 4BoyMom

All of you dog lovers out there, see what happens when you give up on canine classics like Spike and Buster?

In an age when so many of our dogs have their own beds and their own wardrobes and special organic doggy diets, we've gone the extra step to make them true members of the family. We've decided to give them people-styled names.

No more Spot and Fido. Today, we're following our people-based fashion sense. The top names for today's dogs are old-fashioned cuties like Max and Lucy and preppy surnames like Spencer and Bailey. So when a young adult gets a new dog, her instinct is often to leap at the chance to use one of those special favorite names she's kept tucked away for the future.

Too late, many parents realize that their "first baby" has the name they wish they'd saved for their latest baby. You know, the human one.

Some parents just go ahead and name their babies in homage to their pets. Most, though, write the name off as a loss. Even if the parents themselves are ok with cross-species name sharing, the reaction of friends and relatives makes it a no go.

But you're right, Jasper is a heck of a name. Fashionable, but not yet overused; on trend without being trendy; cute on a toddler and reasonable on an adult. It's no surprise you're not willing to give it up. Here are some questions to ask yourself to see if you can make the dog-to-baby transition work:

Who knows that the four-legged Jasper came first? The fact that the neighbors and local friends (and future girlfriends and teachers) will never know the name's provenance is a good start. But what about your older sons? Do any of them remember the dog? Have they heard the name Jasper all their lives in a furry context, so that it might as well be Fido to them? And based on the sibling relationships they have now, are they likely to use the doggy connection to torment their little brother?

Second, what are you planning to tell young Jasper about his predecessor? You shouldn't wait until the day he asks mommy and daddy about the cool dog in all of your family photo albums, only to learn that he has more in common with this pup than he imagines. From the start, make the beloved family dog part of the story of how you chose Jasper's wonderful name. Part, but not the whole story.

Finally, does your family have a new cherished pet? If Jasper himself grows up loving a dog as a member of his family, he might just see the naming connection as a positive. To a young boy in particular, somebody like Fido – I mean, Max or Bailey – could be a pretty cool namesake.


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May 17, 2010 8:51 AM
By Nicole (not verified)

For a famous example of someone who got named after a dog - Indiana Jones. Of course, that wasn't his birth name, but sitll.

May 17, 2010 9:29 AM
By Kristina (not verified)

Isn't rule #1 "never name your pet a name you'd consider for your child?"

May 17, 2010 9:30 AM
By Heather (not verified)

If our baby was a girl my husband wanted to call her Cindy. I was against it because, besides it sounding like a 40 year old woman's name, I knew it was the name of a dog he used to have. Fortunately we had a boy and it never became an issue!

May 17, 2010 9:31 AM
By FranklinSmyth (not verified)

I did struggle with this question when naming the dog recently! What if I never again have that chance for a girl, should I use the cherished name? I'm glad to be reminded about Indiana Jones also, good endings.

May 17, 2010 10:02 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

You can't name your kid after your dog. Period.

May 17, 2010 10:57 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

It never became an issue since we've 2 boys, but my husband once commented that he liked my cat's name (Penelope) for a girl. When I suggested that he never would have thought of that name if it wasn't for the cat, he admitted that he only knew that he liked it because he'd heard it used. I've had her for longer than I've known my husband.

I did choose the cat's name from the non-future-child list, but after living with her for the past 16 years the name is warm and familiar without necessarily being overly cat-like. I wonder if its common for a name considered to be too weird for a human child to become more appealing once its been used around the house a bit? Not that I'd name a daughter after a cat, but I might be tempted to suggest it for a niece.

May 17, 2010 12:17 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

When naming our beagles, Sophia and Mabel, I never thought I'd want those names for children. 7 years later when our first child was on the way I was sad that I had "wasted" them on dogs. Mabel was the one I really would have liked to use and if Mabel wasn't still alive I might have given it real consideration. One of my all-time favorite girl names is Eleanor. 3 years ago my mother-in-law named her dog Eleanor so I felt like I couldn't use it. I don't know if a little girl would get over thinking she was named after grandma's dog.

May 17, 2010 4:09 PM
By hillary (not verified)

We've crossed Penelope off the (top) of our girl list because our dog's name is Nellie. She came with that name from the rescue group and we saw no reason to change it. However, I'd consider using Henry for a boy, which was the name of my childhood dog. That dog has been dead for 25 years so I think the association isn't too strong.

May 18, 2010 10:15 AM
By Kate (not verified)

Please please please don't give your child the name of your pet! However great the name may be (and I agree that Jasper is pretty great), it still belonged to the dog first and therefore can never be as special to the boy. The world is filled with other wonderful names!

May 18, 2010 10:32 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

i like Jasper, rare and sounds pleasant. i don't see anything wrong with using that name on your son, i actually would encourage it. i love my dog like a crazy person :o) and if he wasn't alive and his name was more used for humans, i would definately use it. this way you chersish the dog, which you loved so much,that isn't with you no more, and your son will not only have a cool name but wil carry it for a very long time :o)

May 18, 2010 11:40 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

GO ahead and name the kid Jasper. It is a really cute name for a boy! Funny I had Zoe and Ella as dogs and still love those names dearly. I am so happy 2 of my BFFs named their daughters Zoe and Ella so now I can know beautiful girls by the same names. Maybe someday I will have a little girl and name her Zoella :)

May 18, 2010 11:57 AM
By Sally (not verified)

My mother named her first daughter Anne, after LM Montgomery's heroine. My father got to name the second daughter, who was me. He chose "Sally", which he said was a happy name. He must have liked it, because his cat was named Sally. She was older than I was, so I grew up with "Sally Puss" as a furry companion. It didn't and doesn't bother me a bit. Our animal friends have names ranging from Tammy to Poddles, to Toot, to Penny, to Tess, Ace, Preacher, Jeanie, Pip and Trump. No, I didn't use them for our children, mostly because my taste changed between the ages of 7 and 22, and the names I still love belong to pets named AFTER we had named our children. I see Tess, Jeanie and Pip as perfectly good baby names, though.

May 18, 2010 12:00 PM
By hyz (not verified)

I had an extremely beloved dog that died almost 3 years ago now, and although he had a great human name, I couldn't possibly think of giving it to my kid. That was HIS name, all the moreso because it was a fairly rare name (like Jasper), not something like Max or Jack that you hear all over the place. To DH and I, and our family, friends, and neighbors, the name is just too strongly associated with our dog--it would be very weird. I've also crossed names off our potential list because they belong to neighbors' dogs, or my sister in law's present and former cats. However, one of the top choices for the baby I'm expecting IS one of the other names I strongly considered when I was naming that dog. That's still fair game!

May 18, 2010 12:11 PM
By Nicki (not verified)

I definitely think you can name your baby Jasper. I seriously wanted to name our next daughter Teagan, because I love the name. But I'm bummed because we named one of our dogs that. Our pets are still living though, and everyone would know that they have the same name. Your case is different however, where your dog has passed and you still love the name.

May 18, 2010 12:14 PM
By PlumGaga (not verified)

As a young teenager, my daughter named her new cat Victoria. Fast forward 15 years -- she gave the same name to her first child. It hasn't troubled any of us, including the human Victoria, who is now 15.

May 18, 2010 12:22 PM
By Elizabeth (not verified)

However great the name may be (and I agree that Jasper is pretty great), it still belonged to the dog first and therefore can never be as special to the boy.

I'm afraid I don't see why. How many children are named after someone? I'd say at least half are given a first or middle name that honors *someone.* My first and middle names come from a total of four sources-- my mother, my great-grandmother, my honorary aunt, and a magic doll from a favorite childhood story of my mother's. I laughed when I found out about the doll, and teased my mom about naming a child after a fictional plaything, but honestly I think it's cute. And for that matter, every name in existence has been used before (unless you make up a gibberish name, which I deeply dis-recommend), so the argument that the name can't be special because it was someone else's name is totally invalid.

I wouldn't recommend naming the child *after* the dog, since it is a dog, not a grandparent, etc. But since it's a good name that you already liked, I would think of the dog as more of a bonus positive association.

May 18, 2010 12:23 PM
By Elizabeth (not verified)

(The first part of my comment above is a quote from another comment. The italics didn't work.)

May 18, 2010 12:27 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I see nothing wrong with it. In fact my daughter loves her name and puppy so much she decided she wanted our puppy named after her. So we had Riley girl and Riley dog. Who we affectionately caled Red Dog and smiley she was an Irish Setter. I don't regret having a dog and a child sharing the same name. My daughter thought it was a great compliment to how great her name was. Riley Dog has since passed but our daughter tells everyone the dog was named after her cause she has the best name ever.

May 18, 2010 12:28 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

re Kate "it still belonged to the dog first and therefore can never be as special to the boy."

That's kind of silly. Almost like if ANYONE EVER, even an ANIMAL, has the same name as your child, they can't identify with their own name. It kind of takes the name kreativity to a scary place. This baby will never even know the dog other than in pictures and shared memories.

I know a family who named their son Sam even though they had a bird dog named Sam. Sam is now 13 years old and the dog is long gone. People outlast dogs; if you like the name, name your child Jasper. As soon as you see him and get to know him, HE will be the primary Jasper of your life, and it will be a happy coincidence to have fond memories of a pet with the same name.

May 18, 2010 12:34 PM
By Suzy (not verified)

My Dad had not one but two dogs named "Suzy" as a child, that he loved dearly. He and his father both really loved the name "Suzy". My parents had 5 kids. I was the youngest. My Mom was over it and let my Dad name the second youngest girl, whom he named after an ex girlfriend. Then I came along. She had a boys name picked out, sure that there was no way she'd have yet another girl. But when I came out a girl, she let me Dad name me. Suzy it was. Same name as the dog.

I don't mind that much. It's not a big deal, and my siblings didn't tease me too much over it. I say go ahead. It will give the kid a story to tell his friends when he's older.

May 18, 2010 12:43 PM
By Bethany (not verified)

As a psychologist, I have to agree with those who counsel NOT naming the child "after the dog." I love my animals like crazy, too--but not everybody feels that way, and names (and their provenance) shape people's attitudes towards our children. I second the notion of checking with the existing older kids--if they remember the Jasper dog, that WILL color their treatment of their new little brother. You might check the family pics, too, as someone else suggested--if they are absolutely chock-full of Jasper dog, there's another reason to just keep him as a happy memory for the family--and find your new son a name that is all his own. I agree that it is nice to name someone "after" someone who is beloved--but not someone who has so recently been an integral part of your nuclear family, living in your house, and directly interacting every day with everybody. That would be a bit like naming your new son after a previous child who had died (not the same, please don't flame me for this--but similar). If Jasper dog had been a beloved pet you and your husband had, before your current children (or before they could remember), then that would likely be okay (assuming you are BOTH perfectly fine with that). But if your current children still count Jasper dog as part of the family (not to mention that older family members and friends you keep in touch with will remember and possibly comment on it, potentially ad nauseum!), I think it would be a mistake--for their psyches, and the way they will view their soon-to-be-sibling--to use that name for a child, so soon.

(Not to mention the fact that "Jasper" is--although I love the name, too--currently riding the wave of "Twilight" fame, and that character is the most feral and dangerous vampire of the Cullen clan--even if you didn't know that, plenty of people will see him as a "little vampire namesake," and "Twihards"--which will include his future teachers, I'm sorry to say!--will tend to expect him to be aggressive and a potential troublemaker. And there are TONS of studies showing that teachers' expectations shape children's behaviors very strongly. Given all that, I believe I'd let Jasper be, and as someone else said, delve into the entire world of other wondrous boys' names out there.)

May 18, 2010 12:46 PM
By Maureen (not verified)

When my husband and I adopted out dog, it was already named - Fiona. A name that I already have on my short list. We've talked about it, and while we don't think we could ever have two Fionas in our lives, we both think naming a daughter Fiona down the road is a possibility if (God Forbid!) something happened to our puppy.

May 18, 2010 1:04 PM
By Haleypiglet (not verified)

What about naming your kid the name of a good friend's former beloved animal? Our college roommie swears he will never name any daughter of his Abby because of his late dog (who we both knew). But I love the name Abigail and would hate for my close friend to always be thinking it's a dog's name. Argh! Let's stop naming our animals people names!!!

May 18, 2010 1:26 PM
By TheNewSplendidLady (not verified)

My husband's family has a ton of ferrets, which are loved like dogs. Many of them have died, and had we had a girl - she would have been Josie (short for Josephine) - a late ferret's name, and our neice is Luna - another late ferret's name! We did give our dogs names we'd NEVER use for children though. I think it's ok, especially when thinking about the things so nicely explained in this article.

May 18, 2010 1:28 PM
By Halley (not verified)

My husband is named after the family dog, Jason. It bothered him as a child, but makes a funny story as an adult.

May 18, 2010 1:56 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Srsly? You wanna name your kid, on purpose, after the dog?!? That poor child. Listen to the shrink, and DON'T.

May 18, 2010 2:09 PM
By Sydney (not verified)

I have thought about this question a lot because I have two dogs with human names, Peyton and Bailey. Peyton was my first, and I liked the name for a dog when we named him, but never would have thought I would one day want to use it as a human name. Now I adore the name Peyton. And if he weren't alive and going to be around for years to come, I would probably use it on a child. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. I want to use it and I like the name more because of the LOVE I have for him. Isn't that what recycling names is all about? Whether it be taking a maiden surname or naming your first son after your father or even reusing a pet's name, you cherish the relationships and love that are reflected in the name.

May 18, 2010 2:13 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

YES!!! My son is Jasper, named despite that we have good friends with a dog named Jasper, who died when our son was about a year old. It has never been an issue, and in fact was a lot of fun. We got a nice picture of the Jaspers together before Jasper the dog passed away. It's a perfect name - we love it!

Also, my cousin named his daughter Anna despite that their own dog was Annie, and though I thought it a little crazy at the time, Anna is now 8 and it seems totally a non-issue!

I had a dog named Lucy as a child, and wouldn't have hesitated to name a child this if it's what I wanted, regardless of my friends/family members opinions!

May 18, 2010 2:35 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Haven't read all the comments here, but folks it's a name... it not like you're confusing your child with a dog by association of their names! When my husband & I were engaged we adopted a dog. I loved the name Jenny. A lot! When we married and began having a family, we had a daughter first... still had the dog, so didn't use the name I loved and wanted to; then had a second child, another daughter, so picked her a different name to avoid using the name I liked best. When our next child was born, again a daughter, and we still had our pet with my favorite name, I said, That's it." I'm not holding off any longer. For several years after that we had Jenny the dog, and just Jenny. No harm, and no foul committed. We loved Jenny the dog and when she died Jenny missed her pet, and never once felt embarrassed that she shared a name.

May 18, 2010 3:10 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

"You can't name your kid after your dog. Period."

Gee, it must be nice for this poster to live in such a clear-cut world.

May 18, 2010 4:30 PM
By Enid (not verified)

My first cat and my oldest daughter share a name. My daughter says it never bothered her to be given a name I clearly loved from the time I was a little girl. I also had a boyfriend who was given the name of his parents' cat. The cat was still alive at the time, and his parents changed its name. He had no issue with this and is a well adjusted adult. I really don't think there is a thing wrong with it, as long as it isn't done out of cruelty.

May 18, 2010 5:52 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Bindi Irwin is named after a dog Steve had once...

May 18, 2010 5:53 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Besides which, Bindi is a common term for a prickly weed.

May 18, 2010 6:11 PM
By Penni (not verified)

When I was a kid my dad told me he used to have a dog called Penny. I was sort of fascinated by this reference to the life he had before me (he also had another wife and set of kids back then, lived in another country). I remember being mock offended but not real offended. It was the kind of amusing anecdote I trailed out in a woe is me session.
We had a cat called Sascha, and I wouldn't hesitate to use it for a child. However I also once had a dog called Dance - I think not.

May 18, 2010 7:15 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I see no reason why you shouldn't name your son Jasper. It's an excellent name. I mean, no matter what we name our babies, chances are someone, somewhere has probably named their furry "baby" that name. Maybe I'm reaching, but what if you named your boy Samuel and a new neighbor moves in with a dog named Sam? I say a good name is worth using. Of course, I may be biased on the name Jasper. It's my son's name. ;)

May 18, 2010 8:42 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I'm so glad we named our pup Biscuit and don't have to worry about this! :-P

May 18, 2010 10:18 PM
By Jess not Jessie (not verified)

We named our dog Lucy, not because it was on our baby name list, but because it seemed to fit her. Later, we met many other canine Lucys and found out that it is a popular name for dogs.

Several years later, I was pregnant with Baby #2, and I really liked the name Lucy for a girl. It was #3 on our list of baby girl names. But Baby #2 turned out to be a boy, so we could use the boy name that we liked better than any of the girl names, and we averted the Lucy issue.

I think that sometimes give a pet a name that we can't imagine we would ever think of naming our child. But after years of fond memories with that pet, we develop good associations with that name. Suddenly we start considering it for the baby.

Also, I had a childhood friend who had a dog named Jasper, so I always think of it as a great name for a dog for myself. But I can see it would make a cute name for a child, too.

And despite having read Twilight, I didn't even make that association with the name Jasper. I don't necessarily think that it will color your son's entire life.

May 18, 2010 10:56 PM
By Kate (not verified)

Ok, obviously my previous comment puts me in the minority here. Maybe it's because I don't have a dog. When/if I get one though, I will think of this question, and name him Wiggles.

May 19, 2010 12:22 AM
By Dianne (not verified)

Actually, Bindi Irwin's first name (an Australian Aboriginal word meaning "little girl") comes from a favorite crocodile of Steve Irwin's at the Australia Zoo. Her middle name, Sue, comes from the family dog. I think if you like a name, you like a name...doesn't matter where it comes from! The only issue might be ever having a child and pet with the same name in the same household...could get confusing!

May 19, 2010 12:26 AM
By Kristin W. (not verified)

We had a similar issue when we were choosing the name of our soon-to-be-born daughter. Our dog's name is/was Millie Frances - the Frances part just came about one day without any planning and stuck - but when it came time to choose a middle name for our daughter, we realized Frances was the perfect fit. My grandfather Frank died last year, and we wanted to use the name in honor of him. So, after some deliberation, we decided to change the dog's name and use it for our child. It has been a challenge, and I still slip and call the dog by her former nickname Francie sometimes! But the name was special enough to us that we decided it was worth it.

And I agree with what the previous poster said about giving a name to a pet creating fond feelings for the name. I might never have considered Frances as a name for a child before, but now that it's been in use in our family for a while, it seems perfectly reasonable!

May 19, 2010 7:39 AM
By Sebastiane (not verified)

I say, if you love it you should use it. Jasper is a human name anyway, and a great one at that. If you wanted to name your child Spot or Cookie, then I would say no, but in this case, I think its perfectly acceptable.

May 19, 2010 11:57 AM
By Genoa (not verified)

I see no problem in naming the new baby Jasper. I think its a great name. You loved the name before the dog, and you love the name after the dog, so what's the issue! Its not as though you are naming your child AFTER your dog.

I say, if you like it, go for it! Don't worry about what other people think because there will be so many opinions, it will make your head spin. Talk to your husband, talk to your boys, and make the decision as a family, as you are really the only people who matter in this decision.

May 19, 2010 1:33 PM
By NAMES (not verified)

As much as you loved Jasper, it will always be your dogs name, you cannot, simply cannot name your child after your dog!

I'm all for naming dogs people names, but use the ones that aren't on your top list!

May 19, 2010 1:48 PM
By Jennifer's friend, Camille (not verified)

My good friend's mother had a dog called Jennifer once. She died about...6 years before we were born. The parents decided to name their daughter Jennifer, because they thought it was a pretty name and held special meaning. Jennifer and I are in our teens now, and this whole time she never once had a problem with being named after a dog. In fact, she used to have a dog named Lacie as a child, so she's got it on her list of baby names, too!

I, for one, have the same middle name as my grandmother (and she goes by her middle name, because her first name is...Goldie..), and my first name was chosen for the nickname it could have (Cami), though that didn't work out too well...

May 19, 2010 4:42 PM
By Kerri (not verified)

I agree with Jess not Jessie above "I think that sometimes give a pet a name that we can't imagine we would ever think of naming our child. But after years of fond memories with that pet, we develop good associations with that name. Suddenly we start considering it for the baby."

Somebody told me once that you can pick out what will be popular names for babies in 10-15 years by looking at the popular names for dogs. I think its really true - about 10 years ago it seemed everyone's dog was named Sadie, Bailey, Max, Jack...what are popular kid names today???? My brother named his daughter Sadie, I did not make points by telling him "thats a DOG name!" But people get accustomed to hearing those names, and good associations, so then kids are named the same names. Maybe to the same people with the dog, maybe to others...

May 20, 2010 12:26 AM
By Faith (not verified)

I have an idea! How about I name my son Jasper and you name your son Brady after my cat! I know that sounds silly. I have always loved the name Jasper for a little boy, but since there was already something special in your life with that name I would go with something else! And Brady is an awfully cute name! His name cute be Brayden or just Brady.

May 22, 2010 1:08 AM
By Jenna (not verified)

My dog is named Stella, yet I would never think to use the name "Stella" on my child, maybe it's because I don't really like the name, but it just seems weird, because I'd have to have a little ginger girl named Stella as my dog has bright orange fur.
It seems like a weird thing, but if you want to name your son Jasper, then go for it. Your life your decisions

May 25, 2010 5:16 PM
By Tiana (not verified)

1. STOP giving your pets "people" names! They might be names you've taken off your potential-children list, but not everyone around you has! My cousin just named her dog Oliver. Thanks for wasting a completely wonderful boy name that WAS in my top 5! This is a dog I'm around quite often & my cousin's daughters will be my child's cousins, so it would be weird to have a cousin with the same name as your dog! If you are going to give a people name, give one that no one is using right now... like Walter or Herman. Then you might actually be able to prevent your child from naming your grandchild something as awful as Herman, because it will have been their childhood dog.

2. I think the bigger issue is that you want to name your kid Jasper. Vomit.

May 29, 2010 7:58 PM
By Emma (not verified)

When I was growing up (I'm 38), the only other Emmas I knew were cats and dogs. It never bothered me a bit. It bothers me much more that 'Emma' is now a ridiculously popular (human) girl's name.

@Tiana - many people consider pets a part of their family and have pets long before they have children. Why shouldn't a pet be given a human name? On the other hand, I wouldn't name a kid Rover.

June 2, 2010 11:58 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

If you want a "real-life" famous person named after a family dog, look at Bindi Sue Irwin (Crocodile Hunter's little girl). She was named after his favorite dog and crocodile. She's proud of it and tells it on tv.

I think if you view animals positively, and you considered your dog part of your family, there is nothing wrong with naming your son after your dog.

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