This Is the Most Popular Pet Name of the Last 125 Years

Bagel? Mr. Whiskers? Nope. Turns out pet lovers have had a special place in their hearts for this particular pet name for 125 years.

Pet names are often viewed as an extension of their owner’s personality. Active types might have a cat named Rocky or Moose, whereas foodies might name their dog Waffles or Beans. However, there have always been popular pet names that end up attached to a large number of pets, and a new survey has revealed the most popular pet name of the last 125 years. Pet names are important and have been for a long time, or at least since pet owners started considering their pets to be family in the 1800s.

We’ve always been crazy about our pets

In 1881, Rose Howe’s pug, Fannie Howe, died leaving her owner heartbroken. Mrs. Howe, a widow of considerable means, held a funeral for her beloved pooch in Brooklyn, New York’s Green-Wood Cemetery, and had Fannie interred in the family plot. The reaction from her fellow wealthy New Yorkers was mixed, at best, and the cemetery banned pet burials on the grounds that it was disrespectful. Americans in the 19th century had only recently begun bringing formerly outdoor pets indoors, where they naturally became valued members of the household. As any modern pet-lover knows, the death of a pet is a terrible occasion. Elaborate Victorian death rituals had no place for pets, so a new industry sprang up to accommodate them: pet cemeteries.

Rest in Pets

Hartsdale, New York is the home of the oldest continually operating pet cemetery in North America. Hartsdale Pet Cemetery and Crematory was founded by the veterinarian Samuel Johnson in 1896. Started as a canine cemetery, it soon expanded to cats and other animals and is the final resting place of nearly 80,000 dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, monkeys, horses, reptiles, and even a lion cub (who lived at the Plaza Hotel with a Hungarian princess). Other notables also buried their pets there, from Diana Ross and Mariah Carey to Robert Merrill and Kate Smith. However, the cemetery is not just a place of cherished memories; it also gives us insight into how previous generations of pet owners thought of their pets, and what sort of cute pet names they gave them.

What’s in a name?

The Hartsdale Pet Crematory has some adorable epitaphs: there was Speculaas (1981-1991), who “Left No Ball Unchased,” and Woodstock (1971-1988) who was “one hell of a cat, often mistaken for a meatloaf.” But some headstones feature the same pet names over and over again; there’s a reason these have been the most popular boy dog names for years. The veterinary company FirstVet recently undertook a survey of the pets in Hartsdale Cemetery to find out the most popular pet names of the last 125 years.  They also determined the most popular pet names of each decade: for dogs from the 1930s on (it has been Max since the 1980s) and for cats from the 1960s on (Smokey has ruled since the 1990s). Some pets were even buried with their lineage numbers noted, including the remarkable line of pooches that culminated with Virgo XIII. However, only one animal alias has consistently been in the top ten most popular pet names over the last century.

The most popular pet name of the last 125 years

The survey found that, on average, more than one out of 100 animals buried there was named Princess. Both dogs and cats frequently received this name, but Princess was slightly more popular for dogs, coming out on top as the most popular dog name overall. The most popular name for cats overall was Tiger, which the survey found peaked in the 1980s. So the next time you’re struggling to come up with a name for your new pet, you can follow in the footsteps of pet-lovers before you, and look to history. Here, Princess!

Next, find out the most popular dog names in Canada last year.

Originally Published on Reader's Digest