The Most Popular Dog Names and the Meanings Behind Each of Them

You'll be saying this name a lot, so choose wisely.

It's been reported that the surge of "pandemic puppies" rescued last year was so high, many shelters, breeders, and pet stores are still running low on animals. This is good news—both for dogs across the country who met and bonded with their new families and those families who, in turn, were able to enjoy with their new fluffy companions.

three puppies looking over fence
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If you plan to join the ranks of pet owners across America, then you'll be faced with the important decision of choosing the perfect name for your dog. Maybe you're a fan of the culinary arts, so you'd like your precious pup to don the name Basil, Mocha, or Peaches. Perhaps you're a movie buff and want to name your dog in honor of a favorite character, like Lassie or Rocky. Whatever name you choose, it should be personalized to your newly adopted friend.

To help narrow the list, here are the most popular dog names for both female and male canines in 2021, according to the American Kennel Club, as well as the meanings behind them.


With German, English, and Aboriginal roots, Max means "greatest" and is one of the most commonly used names internationally. It also has variations you can play with such as Maximilian, Maxwell, or Maxfield.


Derived from the name Charles, which comes from a German word meaning "free man," Charlie is hugely popular for all genders these days. From Charlie's Angels to musician Charlie Puth, this name has remained a staple across popular culture.


Cooper comes from English origins, meaning "barrel maker" and used to be a surname for that occupation, similar to Mason or Hunter. A working dog breed on the farm or ranch might be fitting for this robust name.


Often used interchangeably with "friend," Buddy simply means a pal to get through good times and bad. It's a classic name that's fitting for dogs of any breed.


Of German origin, Milo can mean both "soldier or merciful." It stems from the Latin word "miles" which means soldier, but there's also evidence that it might have come from the Slavic root "milu", which means merciful. For a gentle or easygoing dog, the name Milo could be a suitable fit.


Meaning "beautiful" in Italian, with related meanings in Spanish, Latin, Portuguese, and Greek, Bella is often derived from Isabella. Though the name dates back to the 13th century, its popularity has grown in the last decade due to a certain Twilight character.


Of Italian origin, Luna was the goddess of the moon in Roman mythology, and was often depicted driving a chariot across the sky. The word stems from the Latin word for "moon" or luna. In literature, the moon is often associated with feminism, love, and enlightenment.


Lucy comes from the Latin word "lux" meaning "light." Historically, the names Lucy and Lucia were given to girls born at dawn. If your puppy is an early riser, this name would be fitting.


With English origins, Daisy literally means "day's eye" because the flower that owns this name opens its petals at daybreak. It's a fresh, youthful, and whimsical name that's perfect for a youthful dog.


Derived from Margaret, but also short for Magnolia, Maggie is of English origin, meaning "pearl." Rare and beautiful, Maggie is perfect for a signature beauty.

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