Why Do We Call our Dog Fido, Rover and Spot?


If you ask your neighbor why they called their dog Spot, you may be told that they have a spot on their chest. 

Or your co-worker may have called theirs Rover because their kid’s favorite TV program has a dog called Rover.

Some owners don’t always know where their names come from, or care – they just like them. But there is a little more than meets the eye on this topic….

Read on to learn more.

The Historical Importance of the Dog Name Fido

We can’t deny, like with human names too, there is a historical element to certain dog names.

Well known figures may have had dogs with certain names or dogs have subsequently been named after said historical figures. There are hero dogs, whose names have stood the test of time or characters in books or films that have become well-liked.

You may have come across the name Fido often. It actually comes from Latin origin, meaning “to trust, believe or confide in,” or “I am faithful.”

With that meaning, it’s not surprising it makes a popular dog name; combined with the fact that President Abraham Lincoln named his dog Fido too of course!

Unfortunately, shortly after Lincoln’s assassination, Fido was also killed on a street by a man who mistook him for a threat.

His name lives on, even if some don’t fully know the heritage.

Where Does Rover Come From?

The name Rover means to wander. Which is apt for many historical dogs. This name was used in much literature including Shakespeare in A Winter’s Tale and Vincent de Langres Lombard in his book, Verses to my Dog, Rover.

There was also a film in the 1900s which told the story of a dog named Rover, rescuing a kidnapped baby!

Spot also has its place in literature. The reading series, Dick and Jane taught many children how to read between 1930 and 1960, and they had a dog called Spot! It’s not surprising that if any of those kids were asked what to name their pet, they would have chosen the name Spot!

It’s easy to see that the exposure these names increased their popularity. But they also have something else which is crucial in choosing a good name for a dog.

They are short and snappy.

They are one or two syllables. This makes it incredibly easy to intonate and therefore gain and keep the attention of your dog.

Getting Spot’s attention is going to be much quicker than getting Anadelia’s! Both are running towards a busy road:

  • “Spot, Stop!”
  • “Anadelia, Stop!”

Time yourself saying both and you’ll see what we mean!

Not only that, but as far as names go, they are pretty self-explanatory.

Most people know that when you are calling for “Fido!” you are looking for a dog. Yelling “Steve!” could be a missing dog, kid or husband!

You also avoid any drawn-out explanations when booking your dog in at the groomers or day care. “Zax… you remember Benji, Zax and the Alien Prince?”

No, neither do we!

You also won’t mind calling names like Fido and Spot in a public place. Bark Twain, Jimmy Chew, Droolius Caesar. They’re hilarious for about a second.

Don’t Choose a Popular Name

The only thing to be mindful of, is that when you’re choosing a popular name, you run the risk of other dogs in the same space as you, having the same name.

So you could be calling Max to go home from the dog park and suddenly have a few extra dogs (called Max) following you!

There’s not much you can do about this, but just check for any hangers on before you leave anywhere.

So, you may not want to call your dog Spot, Fido or Rover, but we can learn some lessons from the names!

  • Keep the name short and snappy,
  • Limit the syllables to one or two,
  • Make it easy to intonate,
  • Keep it clean! So, you won’t mind calling it in public!
  • Keep it self-explanatory – unless you want to explain your tv choices to strangers.
  • Make it timeless – heroes and literary figures are often great sources of names.

When naming your dog, there really are hundreds of names to choose from, but it’s going to be something that sticks with your dog for the rest of his life. You’ll use it to identify him but also to gain his attention.

You’ll say it thousands of times in his lifetime, so make sure it’s a good one!

John Woods is the Founder and Director of All Things Dogs, as well a graduate in Animal Behavior & Welfare and member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. He has been a dog lover since he was 13 years old volunteering at an animal shelter where he gained first hand experience training, rehabilitating and socializing hundreds of dogs using positive reinforcement training techniques.

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