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Most popular dog names west of Boston

Kathleen Jordan and her Australian shepherd Leo, named for his mane of hair, pause during a recent visit to Cold Spring Park in Newton.Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

Forget about Fido and Spot. These days it is Bella and Max.

Dog names, like names for children, rise and fall in popularity. And while the most popular names may change a bit from town to town, generally what is popular in one place is fairly popular elsewhere, too. The trend holds up nationally as well.

The Globe looked at the names of dogs licensed in 13 Greater Boston communities, including Concord, Dover, Framingham, and Newton. In all, we examined 50,000 names. The most popular overall were Bella, Max, Buddy, Bailey, and Molly. And let us not forget Lilly, Lucy, Maggie, Daisy, and Charlie.


Those names track closely to a national survey done last year by, which found the most popular male names were Max, Buddy, and Charlie. For females, it was Bella, Daisy, and Lucy. Bella has been popular since 2006, according to Vetstreet, shortly after the first “Twilight” book came out.

But dog names, unlike names for children, seem to cover more ground — they range from the mundane to the laughable, from the silly to the quaint. And lots of themes emerge. There are dogs whose names are drawn from the world of sports (Brady, Fenway, Jeter), the movies (Al Pacino, Scout Finch), music (Jagger, Bon Jovi), and even food (Dunkin, Big Mac, Noodles, Oreo). Oh, and did we mention animals? There’s Bear, Moby, Moose, and, of course, Snoopy.

Like dog names, the favorite breeds in communities the Globe surveyed around Boston also roughly tracked the national figures, with some variations. The most popular in 11 area communities were Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, mutts, German shepherds, and Chihuahuas. Nationally, it was Labs, German shepherds, golden retrievers, beagles, and bulldogs, according to the American Kennel Club’s numbers for last year.

So where do owners get names for their dogs?


At Cold Spring Park in Newton, an expanse of tangled woods dotted with ball fields, tennis courts, and a jewel of a fenced dog park hidden deep in the brush, owners sat on plastic chairs as their dogs cavorted.

Diane Silver sat with Emma, a mini Labradoodle — part miniature poodle, part Labrador retriever.

“It’s very popular these days, but I just liked the name,” the Newton resident said.

Emma is a ball lover, but not a ball chaser. She sat carefully in the shade of a chair, ball between her paws, watching protectively whenever anyone came close to it.

Silver said she also had a dog called Sadie, a name that was made up of family initials.

Kathleen Jordan of Newton has two dogs, but only one with her on this day — Leo, an Australian shepherd named for his mane of hair. Her other dog, Annie, was at home.

“Annie is a princess,” Jordan said. “She doesn’t like to walk that far.”

Leo, on the other hand, could not stop furiously chasing a ball that Jordan repeatedly threw around the park.

Woody, a poodle, got his name because Peter Simon’s wife likes the name Woodrow Wilson. It also goes with the dog’s rusty colors, the Newton resident said. They wanted to stay away from popular names like Bella and Bailey, he added.

Martha Bauer was out with Tillie, a golden doodle — half poodle, half golden retriever. Tillie, 5 months old, got her name from an older brother, Tullie.


“This is Tillie’s third walk of the day,” said the Newton retiree. “I cannot get this dog tired.”

Back at the parking lot, professional dog walker Jason Hurley of Newton had seven mild-mannered dogs in hand. The names: Traver, Mason, Charlie, another Charlie, Hera, Riley, and Prairie. They ran the breed gamut from cocker spaniel to retriever, from Portuguese water dog to pug. Hurley said he and his wife have about 14 regular customers, plus a few others here and there.

Hurley has a couple of his own dogs at home, too: Bailey, who is the color of Baileys Irish Cream; and Nutmeg, named by his mother-in-law because at the time he and his wife were preoccupied with coming up with baby names.

Joyce Friedman was clear about why her mutt is named Archie.

“This is a good story,” she said.

He was named after her husband’s favorite dead uncle, in the hope that it would help him bond with the dog. Her husband, Lev, never quite connected with a previous dog that was with them for 14 years.

“It was manipulative on my part. How great was that?” she said. And it worked. The dog and husband have hit it off.

Alexandra Cherubini of Boston’s South End was walking her two dachshunds, Isa Lei and Lula Lei, who were busy sniffing everything in sight. Isa Lei is a Fijian term of endearment (and a well-known song), along the lines of “Oh, you poor thing,” said Cherubini, who spent time in the island nation.


Tut, a mutt rescued from Vermont, has a career as a therapy dog, working along with Gene Arthur, a psychotherapist who recently moved his practice to Newton.

“He’s in the office quite a bit, helping comfort clients,” said Arthur.

The dog is named after Arthur’s father-in-law, whose nickname was Tut. “It’s a link to him,” Arthur said.

The 9-year-old gets three walks a day, including a hard run in the morning.

No dog story is complete without a celebrity sighting.

Catie Copley, an English Labrador retriever who works at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston as one of its “canine ambassadors,” visited a park in Quincy recently with Joe Fallon.

Catie has had two children’s books written about her (one translated into French), has her own business card, a Web page, and an e-mail address. And this celebrity dog has a number of celebrity fans (just ask Fallon, who will gladly share pictures).

Her list includes actress Bernadette Peters, singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, rock star Elvis Costello, and actor Paul Newman.

Catie, black with some white around her muzzle, can normally be found hanging out at the concierge desk at the hotel, where she is happy to greet visitors who like dogs. Guests can also walk Catie and another Lab, Carly. She spends her off-time with Fallon, a concierge who lives in Stoughton.

It’s a little unclear how Catie got her name, Fallon said, but the dog is owned by the hotel’s employees. However, old news stories report that her original name was Katie, which was changed to Catie to match Copley. Fallon said he enjoys his side job as Catie’s assistant.


Is the 12-year-old a tough boss?

“She treats me very well,” he said.

Matt Carroll can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @globemattc.