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Picking the perfect name for your new pup is always a challenge, as you want the perfect fit. You’ll be looking for something about their appearance or personality to inspire you.
Do you have a tough guard dog that fiercely protects the house? Or a timid little pup who is, ironically, as far from tough as you can get? You might find some inspiration on our list of the best tough dog names.
We’ve broken our top picks into various categories to help you find what you are looking for. Whether you have a male or a female dog, or you are inspired by art, film, the military, or mythology, hopefully, you’ll find something on our lists.
We’ll also share some top tips on narrowing down your selection and choosing the perfect names, including some helpful dos and don’ts for naming your dog.
Of course, there are no rules. You need to look for inspiration and go with your gut!
If you are getting a puppy, don’t forget to check out our new puppy checklist.
Tough Girl Dog Names
Do you have a little princess in the house? Here are our top tough female dog names.
- Amar – originating in Africa, name for strength
- Banshee – fierce Irish spirit known for her wail
- Blizzard – ideal for white dogs
- Fury – ideal if they have a short temper
- Jinx – always making trouble
- Kella – Irish name meaning warrior
- Phoenix – when they suddenly burst into flames
- Queen – when she rules the home
- Raven – dark and sharp
- Rebel – when they are uncontrollable
- Tempest – when there is always a storm brewing
- Ulka – Scandinavian name meaning power of the wolf
- Valkyrie – mythical Norse warrioresses
- Vixen – powerful and cheeky
Tough Boy Dog Names
Is your pup your little prince? Here are our top tough male dog names.
- Apocalypse – the end of all things
- Beast – as in Beauty and the Beast
- Bouncer – especially if they check you at the door
- Bruiser – especially if they have a tendency to play rough
- Brutus – perfect for a tough brute
- Caesar – in reference to warrior dictator Julius Caesar
- Crusher – ideal for a heavier dog
- Devil – one with a devilish attitude
- Diablo – Spanish for the devil
- Dingo – dangerous wild dog from Australia
- Dragon – especially if they have a fearsome bark
- Hannibal – the North African warrior, rather than the cannibal
- Inferno – for pups that go from zero to one hundred in a second
- Juggernaut – an unstoppable force
- Mammoth – for particularly large dogs
- Marine – ideal for swimmers
- Oscar – means strength in Hebrew
- Saber – type of blade
- Takeo – means “strong like bamboo” in Japanese
- Tank – ideal for bigger dogs that tend to roll through the house
- Wolf – dangerous wild dog
Military Inspired Dog Names
Strong dog names inspired by military references.
- Admiral – naval rank
- Ammo – the bullets you put in a gun
- Blitz – ideal for a dog that gives you the once over when you get home
- Bomber – Air Force reference
- Captain – a rank, or potentially a reference to your favorite captain
- General – when you know your dog is in charge
- Gunner – German rank and an alternative for a gunman
- Kevlar – ideal for guard dogs
- Major – for the well-trained but fierce pup
- Renegade – for stubborn pups
- Sniper – when nothing gets by your dog
- Soldier – especially if they are part of a team
- Trigger – if anything will set them off
- Uzi – possibly the scariest weapon
Tough Names From Movies And Culture
Here is a list of some of the best fierce names inspired by movies, culture, and mythology.
- Ajax – Greek hero of the Trojan War
- Alaric – Visigoth barbarian
- Ares – Greek god of War
- Chaos – primordial Greek god
- Colossus – X-Men character with invulnerable skin
- Fang – Hagrid’s dog in Harry Potter
- Fenrir – mighty wolf from Norse mythology
- Fluffy – three-headed guard dog in Harry Potter
- Freki – Norse wolf of Odin
- Geri – Norse wolf of Odin
- Hades – Greek god of the underworld
- Hagrid – friendly giant from Harry Potter
- Hercules – famous hero and son of Zeus
- Hulk – the green Avenger
- Jormungandr – Norse serpent monster
- Jupiter – mightiest of the Roman gods
- Khutulun – formidable Mongol wrestler
- Kong – short for King Kong
- Ragnarok – the end of the world in Norse mythology
- Sirius – Animagus in Harry Potter, last name Black
- Skoll – Norse wolf that chases the sun
- Spartacus – gladiator slave
- Thor – Norse god of thunder (and rock and roll)
- Titan – giants of Greek mythology
- Wolverine – small but tough
- Zeus – the mightiest of the Greek gods
- Bellatrix – from Harry Potter, last name Lestrange
- Boudicca – Celtic warrior queen
- Brienne – female warrior with heart in Game of Thrones
- Buffy – famous Vampire slayer
- Diana – goddess of the hunt
- Gamora – one of the Guardians of the Galaxy
- Hati – Norse wolf who chases the moon
- Hera – Zeus’s angry wife
- Hydra – Greek and Roman sea serpent
- Lagertha – fearsome Viking shieldmaiden
- Natasha – Black Widow from the Avengers, last name Romanoff
- Rogue – X-Men warrioress
- Strom – X-Men team member
- Wanda – Scarlet Witch in the Marvel Universe, last name Maximoff
- Xena – infamous Warrior Princess
Tough Celebrity Inspired Dog Names
Some of the strongest and toughest celebrities who might lend your dog their name.
- Dwayne Johnson – a.k.a. “The Rock”
- Hugh Jackman – the tough guy who can sing and dance
- Liam Neeson – he has a particular skillset
- Mark Wahlberg – tough but loveable
- Mickey Rourke – wrestler
- Sylvester Stallone – Rambo, Rocky, and many more
- Tom Hardy – one of the best brutes on the big screen
- Vin Diesel – of The Fast and the Furious and XXX fame
- Amanda Nunes – UFC fighter
- Gal Gadot – Wonder Woman
- Gina Carano – martial artist turned actor
- Hilary Swank – the Million Dollar Baby boxer
- Katie Sackhoff – best known from Battlestar Galactica
- Lucy Lawless – tough actress who played Xena: Warrior Princess
- Michelle Rodrigues – in both The Fast and the Furious and Resident Evil
- Ronda Rousey – MMA fighter and wrestler
Famous Tough Dogs
Maybe you’ll be inspired by some of the famous tough dogs from history.
- Apollo – one of the heroes of 9/11
- Balto – the Siberian husky who saved an Alaskan town from a diphtheria outbreak
- Bow – the pit bull from the movie Snatch
- Brandy – the loyal pit bull in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
- Cloud – famous for tracking down and capturing fugitives in Canada
- Koton – the fierce but loveable police dog in K9
- Milo – the dog from The Mask was loveable but also with a crazy edge
Multilingual Dog Names
Looking for names that mean tough or fierce? Look to other languages for a possible name.
- Baden – fierce in Basque
- Eros – strong in Hungarian
- Feroz – fierce in Galician
- Forte – strong in Portuguese
- Graveleux – gritty in French
- Gruuts – tough in Latvian
- Imuna – fierce in Yoruba
- Jaka – strong in Bosnian
- Jayce – strong in Cherokee
- Krieger – warrior in German
- Kietas – tough in Lithuanian
- Kova – tough in Finnish
- Matla – strong in Sesotho
- Neron – strong in Spanish
- Raju – fierce in Finnish
- Raske – tough in Estonian
- Somer – gritty in Estonian
- Strider – warrior in Frisian
- Vad – fierce in Hungarian
- Zah – tough in German
How To Choose A Name For Your Dog
Choosing the right name for your dog can feel like a big responsibility; after all, they will have it for the rest of their lives. You need something that suits their personality, feels like it belongs in your family, and is appropriate for both training and use in public.
The only tried and true way to choose the perfect dog name is to search around for inspiration until you come across something that feels right. This can take a while, and you shouldn’t put too much pressure on yourself to choose something immediately.
There are also some guidelines that can help you choose between different names if you are on the fence, and also evaluate the appropriateness of a name before settling on it.
Keep It Short
Choose something short, ideally only one or two syllables long, or at least something that can be shortened.
This is because it is easier for dogs to learn shorter names, which means they will start responding when you call sooner than if you chose a longer and more complicated name for them.
If you want to give your dog a long and complicated name, such as “Sirius Black” or “Lucy Lawless”, remember that you will need a shorter nickname for daily use, like “Siri” or “Lucy”.
Considering that it is the nickname that you will be using most often and that they will recognize best, make sure that you consider their nickname just as carefully as their full name.
Nothing Too Complicated
Avoid complicated tongue twisters. Remember that it is not just you who may need to use your dog’s name to call their attention or give them directions. As a result, you don’t want to go with something that only you can pronounce.
Moreover, as any human with a name that others mispronounce all the time will tell you, it gets pretty annoying to have to correct people all the time. You may get sick of correcting other people’s pronunciations of your dog’s name as well.
Consider The First Letter
It is a good idea to choose something that starts with a sibilant consonant or blend consonants, such as an S or an SH, or a hard commanding consonant like a K or C.
These subtle choices will make it easier for your dog to distinguish their name from all the other ambient noise around them, which means it will also be easier for you to get their attention.
Avoid Names That Sound Like Other Important Words
Avoid names that sound too much like commands that you will use regularly, as this can just confuse your pup.
Remember: while dogs are very intelligent, they don’t actually understand language in the more complex way that humans do; they are just recognizing familiar sounds.
If their name sounds too much like a command that you use regularly, such as sit or stay, they may confuse the two words.
This will probably result in the offending command being less effective than it should be, as they won’t be sure whether you just want their attention or if you want them to do the specific task.
Remember that you will often need to use your dog’s name in public, sometimes shouting it loudly, and sometimes using it in front of children and strangers. This is why it is rarely a good idea to choose something rude or potentially offensive.
All too often, people give their dogs names that they thought were funny at the time and then find that they are embarrassed to use it later. Remember, everyone in your family who is responsible for your dog will also need to be able to use their name with ease.
Read our complete guide to puppy names here.
How To Teach Your Dog Their Name
Once you have chosen a name for your pup, it is important to teach them to recognize their name. How else are they meant to know that this word represents them?
Training your dog to recognize their name is essentially the same as teaching them to recognize a command, though the desired response to the word is more fluid.
Principally, you should teach them to give you their attention when you say their name and reinforce this behavior through rewards (treats, praise, or play).
Start with five-minute training sessions daily during which you have your dog in an attentive situation and then say their name. When they respond to you, give them a treat. Repeat this several times over a couple of minutes every day for a few weeks.
Next, you need to teach your dog to respond to you when you don’t necessarily already have their attention. Take them out on the leash (even if it is only into the yard) and let them explore.
Then, while walking your dog, call their name. If they turn and give you their attention, reward them with a treat.
If they don’t turn in a timely manner, lightly tug on the leash to get their attention and say their name again. When they do turn toward you, say their name again and then reward them for their response.
With this kind of training, your dog will learn to associate their name with good things, and they will always want to give you their attention.
For this reason, avoid using your dog’s name in negative situations. For example, don’t say “No, Rover;” just say “No,” in order to avoid associating your dog’s name with negativity.
Is it bad to give your dog an aggressive name?
For dogs, words don’t have associations so giving your dog an aggressive name won’t encourage aggressive behavior. It may affect how other people feel about your dog and treat them, though.
If you have a large dog with an aggressive name, others might automatically be afraid of them, which could cause your dog to start barking.
When should you not use your dog’s name?
It is best to avoid using your dog’s name if you are punishing them or reprimanding them in any way. If you use their name, they can begin to associate their name with the negativity of the experience.
So just say, “no,” “stop,” or “leave it,” without also saying their name. If they know these commands, you shouldn’t need to use their name to get their attention.
Is it bad to give your dog multiple names?
With the right training, your dog can be taught to respond to multiple names and you can even change their name; however, you do have to put the work in to create that recognition.
It is much easier to teach your dog to recognize and respond to their own name if you use the same name consistently. The same rule is true for all canine commands.
Choosing the perfect name for your new pup can feel like an impossible challenge, but it is just a matter of waiting for the right name to emerge and seeking out inspiration to help you stumble across the right one as soon as possible.
If you have a tough pup or a strong guard dog, hopefully, you’ll find our list of names for tough dogs a useful source of inspiration. These names can also work well for timid little pups if you like an ironic edge.
Whatever you do, remember that you’ll need to use your dog’s name regularly, so sense-check it with our guidelines before making a final commitment.
Do you have any recommendations for great names for tough dogs?
Share your ideas with the community in the comments section below.
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