The only thing more exciting than picking out a new puppy from the litter is naming it. In theory the list of names we have to choose from is infinite. And yet so often we go back to the well, so to speak, and choose names that are overdone, played out and cliché.
On the other hand, maybe such names are popular because they’re just so darn fitting for the hopes and dreams we have for our bird dog pups. Regardless, there are a few names you hear over and over again. And maybe that’s okay. The first cliché name on the list below happens to be the one I’ve selected for my new puppy. I know it isn’t original, but I think it suits him. Isn’t that what’s most important?
If you ever meet a dog named Junior you can rest assured that this was the cycle of events. We gundog folks are a sentimental crowd, and so often we want to honor a great dog by passing on the Junior moniker to the next generation. Typically a pup is named Junior when Senior is getting along in years, and the owner senses it’s time for Senior to take a well-deserved spot on the couch while Junior carries the torch.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. However, a word of caution: Fight the temptation to compare Junior to Senior. It’s human nature to do so, but it’s completely unfair. Should Michael Jordan’s son be considered a failure if he never wins an NBA championship? Let Junior develop and be the dog he was born to be.
Arguably the name was further popularized by Drake the DU Dog, the official Labrador retriever mascot of Ducks Unlimited. However, the name was already pretty popular prior to 2000, when Drake assumed his role at DU.
So it’s no wonder it’s a popular choice. One old coon hunter I met really takes this one to extremes, though. He’s named every hound in his kennel Duke. There’s Duke I, Duke II, Duke III… well, actually by now he’s well into the double-digit Dukes. According to him, dogs all look like they ought to be named Duke.
Based on the number of Dukes I’ve shot birds with throughout the years, many agree.
The biggest trouble with this particular name is that it ends in ‘O’—some trainers advise against this, because names that sound a lot like the command “no” can lead to confused dogs.
Like the names Drake and Duke, Rocky just sounds tough. You wouldn’t expect a dog named Stanley to course the uplands all day or bust through ice and snow to fetch a wounded mallard. But Rocky on the other hand—that’s a dog that’ll get the job done.
This list is by no means complete. I’ll bet you’ve hunted over some dogs, or even owned a few, with less-than-original names. What names would you add to the collection?