Reading this post about weird dog show names probably had you wondering why exactly it is show dogs are named the way they are. Lucky for you, we had that in mind. So while you’re mulling over the Pomeranian named “Starfire’s Spank Me Hard, Call Me Crazy” or the corgi named “Mr. Blobby,” let’s talk about why those names exist.
If you’ve ever been to a dog show or seen a stream of one online, you’ve probably seen all those acronyms in front of the names of our furry friends. For example the title card for “Penliath Bill Me Later” the corgi at the 2022 Crufts show was “CH Penliath Bill Me Later.” In this case, the “CH” prefix isn’t an acronym and is just short for “champion.”
Sometimes the acronyms are suffixes and come at the end of names. You might see something like “PAD” or “ACT1.” Sometimes they come as a prefix, but they’re all titles for these dogs. Like if hereditary titles were for dogs and also mostly earned instead of passed down. These titles are earned based on the dog’s performance at previous shows. For example the Champion title we brought up first. The prerequisites are to get 15 points and two majors won from differing judges–as well as an additional point from a different third judge. The “PAD” title is actually an acronym, and is short for “Premier Agility Dog.” It requires the entitled dog to have done well in the agility test (who would have thought). More specifically, it’s 25 qualifying scores in the Premier Standard class, with five qualifying scores having been in the top 25%.
Many of these titles aren’t mutually exclusive, which is why dogs with particularly long careers or just beefy resumes end up with a lot of titles to their name. For example, Mystic Acres At Camden Yards’s title name is as follows:
In English, it’s this:
Grand Champion Bronze, Champion Mystic Acres At Camden Yards, Scent Work Container Novice, Scent Work Exterior Novice, Scent Work Buried Novice.
You know. Maybe that’s not more understandable.
But what about the other parts?
Show dogs have call names, which are the names they actually respond to when called. Functionally speaking, the call name is the dog’s actual name. So GCHB CH Mystic Acres At Camden Yards SCN SEN SBN really just goes by “Camden.” Which seems a lot easier on the dog, because most humans probably couldn’t internalize all that as their name.
Anyway, the origin of these names is “whatever the breeder could come up with,” because it’s fun. No really. Aside from conforming to the rules for registered names (which we will get to), many dog owners deliberately go for unusual names. It’s for pretty obvious reasons, you’re more likely to remember the corgi named “Penliath Bill Me Later” than you are to remember the 15th “Spot” or 20th “Rocket” every kid grew up with.
They do have rules though.
As far as rules go, the American Kennel Club is pretty up front about it. Names cap out at 50 characters. Spaces, apostrophes, and hyphens do count towards this total. It costs about $38 to register a dog, and $150 to register a Kennel Name. Kennel Names are renewed every five years at the same cost. It also costs more to register a name if it has more than 36 characters in it. So maybe go for like the letter “E” 36 times.
Other than that, you need to use characters from the English alphabet, and you’re not allowed to use Roman numerals. You are allowed to use normal numbers, though. If you’re wondering why you can’t use Roman numerals, it’s because the AKC uses Roman numerals to identify dogs in competition, since 37 dogs of the each breed can have the same name.
You’re also not allowed to use names that are part of the dog lexicon (like “Kennel” or “Stud”), any AKC titles, or anything that’s otherwise offensive. While you can have breed names, you can’t just have your dog named its breed–for example you can’t show up to a dog show with a golden retriever named “Golden Retriever.”
That would be funny, though.
Their names were definitely less funny, but see if you know your presidential dogs here.