Help with dog name!

Our beloved dog of 12 years recently passed away, and we have found that life without a dog is just too sad, so it looks like we’re adopting a lovely young border collie mix. She’s nearly all black with medium length hair and a kind of shaggy look. Her vibe is very calm and regal, and she was found with her two pups so she has a maternal feel about her. I’d love some name inspiration!! I want to get creative with her name, but still find something easy and pleasant to say.

There are a couple of genres I’m thinking of:

1. Obscure botanical (Phlox anyone?)

2. Favorite children’s book characters - our oldest is 6 and has suggested Ramona (Quincy) or Skye for her favorite character in the Penderwick series (but the Paw Patrol connection is kind of a turnoff)

3. Offbeat people names - Myrtle? Twyla? (Our previous dog, Mitzy, fit into this convention.)

4. Maybe nature related names, specifically relating to mountains or alpine lakes, since our favorite place in the world is Lake Tahoe

Any crazy suggestions highly welcome.

thanks in advance!!!


December 8, 2018 5:23 PM

My first thought is to go with "black" names, because she's mostly dark, and the name of the breed is most likely derived from "coal": Merle (blackbird), Sable (the word used in heraldry for "black"), Nigella (associated with, though not actually related to, Latin for "black").

To get both Lake Tahoe and dark, there's Douglas, which is a Scottish surname derived from words meaning "dark water"; when it was first used as a given name, in the 16th century, it was a feminine name.

Alpine ideas: Odell, Bryn, Lake.

Not knowing your favorite children's books, I don't have any suggestions in that direction, but I always thought Silvina was among Anne McCaffrey's particularly felicitous name inventions. Bonus: the name evokes "forest", and the character evokes "maternal" (at least for me).

December 8, 2018 5:44 PM

What about Amaranth? It’s Greek and means family of colourful plants and flowers. So it really hits the namture donkey in the head and it touches upon the maternal felling with the family connection. Another name I’ve always liked is Maylis. It’s Feench and DEFINATLY falls into your obscure name category as well as almost honuring your last dog. 

Congratulations on your new dog!

December 8, 2018 6:40 PM

Laken, Daphne, Delta, Oceana, Locklyn, River, Aspen, Tahoe, Maren, Marina, Kai, Kendall, Reyne, Reyna, Petal, Spring, Snow, Willow, Pippi, Willa, Vida, Mali, Sable, Lilith, Kali

December 8, 2018 7:13 PM

Aurora is one of my top choices for girls. It derives from the Latin word for “dawn,” so that’s kind of a nature connection (as well as the whole ”Briar Rose” thing in Sleeping Beauty). It's obviously a favorite character, too.

December 8, 2018 7:15 PM

I will just point out that Myrtle fits the botanical category in addition to obscure human names.  Also, looking at its BtN page, I see that it is used for characters in Song of Ice and Fire, Harry Potter, and Stephen King's and Tolkien's works so there may be a literary connection for you too.

By rfb
December 11, 2018 9:46 AM

Also The Great Gatsby (though not children’s literature, obviously)

December 8, 2018 8:03 PM

The Myrtle botanical connection occurred to me, too. That definitely appeals though I think I’ll have trouble getting the family on board with its clunky feel.

Of the names suggested, I like Sable a lot.

Right now I’m really feeling Fern which hits botanical, quirky female name and literary (Charlotte’s Web.)

December 9, 2018 12:18 AM

Fern is cute, how about Myra or Zola

December 8, 2018 11:53 PM

Oh, Fern is cute!  I love your daughter's suggestion of Ramona as well.  Oleander crossed my own mind, as did Amaryllis.  Roxy, too.  

We're big time animal people at my house.  We have a bassett mix named Lump (that's totally on my husband), a Schnauzer/heeler mix named Stella that I named when I thought I was done having babies so went with a favorite, and a rather oddly shaped mix of breeds we haven't quite discerned whose name is Linus.  

December 11, 2018 3:03 PM

I'm sorry that this got buried in the flood of high-drama multiples and other very urgent baby due imminently posts that hit the board, because this is a truly fabulous naming conundrum! I'm sorry for the loss of your previous companion but I hope that the new addition will help you be able to enjoy memories while moving on. 

Skye is totally the best Penderwick, but you're right that everyone would assume it's a Paw Patrol reference, especially on a dog. 

That being said, I think all your suggestions are spectacular and I'm not sure I can offer anything to top them. Phlox is amazing -- botanical and also vaguely sci-fi sounding because of similarity to Flux. Myrtle and Twyla are fabulous names that I find really fun to say. Your oldest is a little too young to appreciate yet that Myrtle has a bit of a Harry Potter literary association, too, in addition to being botanical, but that is one that ticks off so many boxes on your list.

As a non-dog-owner I wonder whether there's a reason that most dog names are two syllable: is it easier to call the dog? Twyla seems particularly satisfying to belt out. 

Mountain names near Lake Tahoe seem promising as a venue for exploration, but none of them jump out at me for a female dog: Are there perhaps particular placenames associated with Lake Tahoe that you could consider? I see from Wikipedia that it outflows into the Truckee river (which, no) but otherwise I'm imagining that names of beaches and promontories and particular neighborhoods could be a really lovely way to honor a special place in the name of your dog. Tahoe itself would work reasonably well, too, I think!

And Fern is a fantastic name that ticks most of your boxes, too. I know a Fern and it's always a pleasure to say her name!

December 12, 2018 5:27 PM

At the puppy training class, the instructor said that one to two syllable names with hard or crisp sounds are easier for the dog to learn. Border colllies are smart though and very attentive to their people.

December 11, 2018 4:51 PM

I'm so sorry about your loss, and so glad that you have a new puppy to love and name.

Myrtle and Twyla jump out at me, because I have an Auntie Myrtle (mostly known as Myrt), and Twyla was the name my son was campaigning hard for if our youngest had been a girl. He got the name from a DiscWorld novel (Hogfather), so there's a bit of a literary connection there, if not exactly children's literature. In spite of my auntie, I also somewhat hear "Myrtle the Turtle", so I think that would be an especially great name for a slow-poke dog or else a real speedster, in the spirit of ironic naming.

For an offbeat person-name that's also a children's book character, maybe Sophronia, nn Phronsie? (From Five Little Peppers and How they Grew, a very old favorite in my house.) If you give your dogs second names, Sophronia "Phronsie" Phlox seems especially appealing.

In the category of obscure botanicals, for some reason Lobelia, nn Lola, springs to mind. Spell it L'eau-la for a Frenchy water connection :).

For an alpine lake name, maybe Geneva?

Good luck, and please keep us updated! Puppy pictures are welcome at the bnw mods gmail account as well as baby pics ;-).

December 11, 2018 5:08 PM

She sounds beautiful - I just love border collies. I really like the suggestion of Fern - that seems to suit your dog's calm, maternal nature (I don't know why, I just see ferns as being soft and gentle plants). Otherwise Ramona is a great suggestion - or you could use Quincy (or Beatrice - maybe "Queen Bea" because of her regal nature).

December 12, 2018 5:35 AM

No, wait, not Quincy - Quimby! I see you put Quincy in your original, but I assume you meant Ramona Quimby (unless there is a Ramona Quincy in children's literature?)

By EVie
December 11, 2018 9:58 PM

On the Tahoe front, Sierra (for the Sierra Nevada), or Rose (for Mount Rose, one of the peaks around Tahoe, and also a botanical)? Northstar could work as a name as well, though for a dog I think you'd probably want to nickname it to North or Star or something else that can be easily shouted. 

December 13, 2018 5:43 AM

I find Phlox quite charming - although my first association is not botanical but rather Flux Capacitator from Back to the Future.

Botanical --- Magnolia?  Maggie is a good nickname. Other quirky people/botanical names.... Sylvie, Dahlia, Posy, Laurel, Daisy, Juniper, Jasmine.

I am also wondering if Minerva appeals -- both offbeat people name, plus it's Professor McGonagall's first name.  The irony, of course, is that she can turn herself into a cat.  (Harry Potter, FYI).  Do you have any favorite children's books?  I guess I'm looking for ways to narrow your categories down further.

I always think food names are hilarious on dogs.  You know: Taco, Gravy, Pizza, Nachos, Lunch, etc.


December 13, 2018 11:19 AM

My mind went to the flux capacitor, too! I actually looked at a list of botanical names that sounded like capacitor, because I was thinking of something like Phlox Camellia would be funny, but couldn't find any that quite worked. (It had been on my mind anyway, because my heater died two weeks ago and the technician told me the capacitor had blown. His mouth went on talking for another five minutes about the intricacies about the system, but I processed none of it and instead was back to the future with Doc Brown and Marty McFly.)

December 13, 2018 3:01 PM

Ooh, I like that idea. Maybe Phlox K. Passiflora?

My mind actually went a different geeky direction; as a name, Phlox reminds me mainly of Dr. Phlox, from Star Trek: Enterprise. I wonder if it would be heard as "flocks", though, especially on a dog with herding instincts?

December 13, 2018 3:03 PM

This is an excellent point. I would absolutely guess "Flocks" if I heard it!

December 13, 2018 10:07 AM

Congrats on the new dog and I'm sorry your old dog passed.  I still miss our old pup, and the new one has now been with us for 4 years!


I love obscure names on dogs.  I particularly love Minnerva (Minnie? Nerve?) and Myrtle.



December 13, 2018 5:07 PM

I'm sorry to hear about your loss.  I have family in the Tahoe area and I first thought of Virginia for Virginia City or Ginger.  For other Tahoe related names, I also like Genoa, Zephyr, Ellis, Bliss, and Rose.  As a minor league baseball fan, Ace came to mind, but I guess that is a pretty boring dog name for anyone not a fan of or with knowledge of the Reno Aces.  For a combo of children's books names and mountain/alpine relations, Heidi and Pippi also work.  Myrtle makes me think of Agnes and Myra.  

December 14, 2018 4:32 PM

My understanding is that the Border Collie breed originated in the border area between Scotland and England.  

So for this reason when we got our collie I was keen to give her a Scottish name.  I most wanted to name her Bonnie however we ended up with Skye and it suits her well (this was nearly 10 years ago and also I've never seen Paw Patrol).  Interestingly we named her daughter Minnie.

I would also consider Iona for you, or suggest you Google the names of Scottish mountains or lakes.

December 14, 2018 6:18 PM

or Isla, Ailsa, Elsie, Maisie, Elsbeth, Finella, Fiona, Finola, Blair, Ishbel, Jessie, Kenna, Kirstin, Mairi, Moira, Morag, Rhona, Sheena, Sine, Sorcha, Ainsley, Annabel, Makenzie, Kenzie, Flora, Nessa, Rhona, Shona, Tammy, Wilma

December 15, 2018 3:16 PM

Sorry about your loss :(


I love Twyla and Ramona.


Some ideas...

Calendula (nickname Cally)



Edith (Edie)




October (Toby)



Beatrix (Bea, Trixie)

Gertrude (Trudy)

Prudence (Prudy)

December 15, 2018 7:29 PM

For categories

1. Phlox is cute, you could also use Thyme, Cilantro, Parsley, Coriander, etc.

2. For the Penderwicks, you could use Batty, Hound, Feldspar, or Sonata. I like Ramona, or Beezus could work. If you've read the Betsy-Tacy books, Tacy or Tib would be cute. (I had chickens named Batty, Ramona, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Betsy, Tacy, and Susie Derkins)

3. Flossie, Roxi, Hattie, Winnie, Dollie, Sally, Bess, Bertie, Birdie, Tillie, etc.

4. Aspen, Erie, Cascade, River, Winnipeg, Spruce, Balsam