Purebred dog names are an always reliable quick laugh for film makers or writers. Introducing a dog as ‘Champion PuffinStuff Hoity Toity Lord Chancellor Rufus The Third’ is a sure fire way of indicating “This dog is owned by a pretentious nit wit”. It’s the modern equivalent of a pudgy kid dressed in Little Lord Fauntleroy gear.
In reality, pure bred dog names, at their most basic, are meant to be indicators of where your dog came from. To that end, almost all pure bred dogs contain the breeder’s kennel name (sometimes referred to as their ‘prefix’).
In my case, my kennel name is “Bullmarket”. I have this name registered with the Canadian Kennel Club, which means that no one else in Canada can register a French Bulldog with ‘Bullmarket’ in their name without my express permission. In the United States, you can’t register a kennel name with the AKC unless your name isn’t a proper word – a word that appears in the dictionary is unacceptable for use as a registered, AKC kennel name. In other words, I’d have to change Bullmarket to something like Bulmarkit to be able to reserve my kennel name with the American Kennel Club.
It’s considered a standard courtesy within breeds to not use another person’s kennel name, whether or not it is registered. This means, of course, that we are relying, as it were, on the kindness of strangers. That said, it’s a convention that is usually adhered to.
A kennel name is, as I said above, an indicator. It tells you, at its most simple, where the dog came from. A “Bullmarket” French Bulldog is a dog that was bred by me — Bullmarket French Bulldogs. Certain things might come to mind with that fact — that my line is better known for producing bitches than it is for dogs (sadly true), or that my dogs tend to have good breathing (happily true).
Generally, the kennel name goes at the front of the dog’s registered name. Oh, hang on. Let’s discuss the concept of ‘registered names’ for a minute, shall we?
Pure bred dogs have two different names – their registered, or ‘full’ names, and their ‘call’ names. Delilah, for example, is the call name of Bullmarket Absolut So Rebellious. Tessa is Bullmarket Terror of Toronto. Call names don’t have to relate in any way to the registered name, although they sometimes do — Sailor is Bullmarket’s Roch the Boat, hence ‘Sailor Girl’. More simply, Journey is Absolut Bullmarket Epic Journey.
So, registered names are a dog’s full, official, usually only used on pedigrees and at dog shows names. Call names are what you yell at them when they’ve just knocked over the trash can.
Back to where we started… Kennel names generally go at the start of the dog’s full registered name, with or without a possessive apostrophe. Another option is to name a dog ‘of’ The Kennel Name. An example of this would be a dog named “Teddy Bear Picnic of Bullmarket”. This style of naming isn’t often seen any more, with the possible exception of in the UK. It pops up in historical pedigree research, but has fallen out of favor for the most part.
Another naming convention seen more commonly in the UK than in North America is the convention of using ‘At’ to indicate that a kennel has purchased this dog from someone else.
An example of this would be a dog named “Bullmarket Teddy Bear Picnic At HollyOak”. This indicates that the dog was bred by Bullmarket, but is owned by (or ‘at’) HollyOak. It’s a very courteous form of naming — it credits both the breeder, and the owner. Again, it’s not often seen in North America, where it’s more common just to cram both kennel names into the dog’s registrered name willy nilly.
In our case, we have two kennel names to combine. Mine, as I said, is “Bullmarket”. Barb’s is “Absolut”. This is why almost all dogs jointly bred by us combine, in one form or another, both kennel names into their registered names. Sometimes, this has made for some rather interesting spelling, not to mention punctuation.
Both the AKC and the CKC limit the number of letters and spaces in a dog’s registered name. For the CKC, the maximum number of letters, apostrophes and spaces is 36. The AKC limits names to “25 characters, not including spaces, apostrophes and hyphens”. AKC now allows you to purchase additional letters (and, presumably spaces and apostrophes) for an additional fee, meaning you conceivably really could now register a dog as PuffinStuff Hoity Toity Lord Chancellor Rufus The Third, although it would cost you about $200 in additional fees, and you’d deserve a smack upside the head for doing so.
Barb and I follow an additional convention, in that we base the order of our kennel names on who whelped and reared the litters. So, a litter whelped here by me would be a litter of “Bullmarket Absolut” registered puppies, while a litter whelped and reared by Barb would be “Absolut Bullmarket” registered puppies.
So, now we’ve sorted out the kennel name portion – but where do dogs get the rest of their registered names from? This really depends on the breeder in question.
Some people choose to use letters of their litters, in chronological order. An “A” litter would be a breeder’s first litter (unless their breeding odometer has turned over, and they’re now on number 27… or 78).
Occasionally, registered names are chosen to ‘honor’ someone — the stud dog who sired the litter, the bitch who birthed them (although rarely, that – as it is with people, so it is with dogs). Delilah is named “Bullmarket Absolut So Rebellious” because her daddy’s call name was “Rebel”, and I wanted her to have a name that honored him. Sailor is “Roch the Boat” to honor her dad, Roch.
I like to ‘theme’ my litters — that means that every puppy within the litter will have a name with the same theme. For Tula and Penelope’s litters, I picked the same theme – Song Titles. Actually, Heart picked the theme when she was born with that birth mark, and it just seemed to be fate.
So, Heart will be “Bullmarket Absolut Heart of Gold”. Her sister, Butters, will possibly be named “Bullmarket Absolut First We Take Manhattan”, which is one of the best Leonard Cohen songs of all time.