Why Are Dogs Called Fido, Rover and Spot? The History of Dog Names
If you hear a neighbor talking about Janet across the block sitting on her step with Max or Charlie, you would be well placed to question if Max or Charlie is a child, pet or significant other.
However, if your neighbor said Fido or Rover, you instantly know they are referencing a dog, a cat doesn’t even cross your mind.
So why do we instinctively associate dogs with the names Fido, Rover and Spot?
Whilst these names are perfect dog names, they are short and snappy making it easy to get our pooch’s attention, their prevalence may be more nostalgic than purposeful.
Let’s Start With Fido
This is likely the most common name you come across when reading anything remotely related to dogs.
In most cases, when explaining a new command or skill, dog trainers and behaviorists will reference their imaginary dog as Fido.
It is just a given. Owners accept this.
Would you be surprised to know that this name may have originated from the White House?
The name Fido comes from the Latin meaning “to trust or confide in.” In short “I am faithful.”
Not surprisingly, Abraham Lincoln named his dog Fido around 5 years before he became President. Having suffered with bouts of depression, pets often pulled him from anguish.
Sadly, when he became President, his wife convinced him that no one would care for a dog who would soil the carpets in the White House, so Lincoln agreed to leave Fido behind. Fido was still known and subsequently became a huge interest of the American People.
We know that celebrities massively influence what parents name their human babies, so we wonder if the rise in the name Fido was all thanks to President Lincoln?
A Dog Named Rover
If we consider the meaning of this name, Rover means to wander.
This would be a perfect name for a working dog. One that hunts or wanders to protect their land.
It’s appropriateness as a dog’s name could be why it became popular in books and television. William Shakespeare referenced a dog named Rover in A Winter’s Tale. If you’re not an avid Shakespeare fan we would hazard a guess you read him during your school years!
A popular film, “Rescued by Rover,” told the story of a dog, named Rover rescuing a baby from a kidnapping. Is it this ideal that we are hoping for if we name our dog Rover?
What About Spot Then?
A popular book series between the 1930s and 60s, Dick and Jane included a character named Spot.
Initially, Spot was a cat, but it was later their dog.
This series was used to teach children how to read, it’s not hard to imagine the conversations over the dinner table.
Can we have a dog? Can we name him Spot like in the book? Didn’t all kids want to have the same adventures as Dick and Jane? With their very own Spot?
Some dog names are popular based on their structure and sound. We know that one or two syllable names are the most effective when training our pooches. They are short enough to get our dog’s attention and easy to intonate (change your pitch as you speak to sound incredibly interesting).
But some dog names are popular based on celebrity status:
- Notice as Game of Throne fans call their dogs Ghost, Lady/Sansa or Summer/Bran.
- Or after the first Minion appearance where kids wanted to call their pets Bob or Kevin.
Some celebrity names make it because you’re not worried about shouting the name across the dog park on a Saturday morning. We’re not sure if people will think you’re searching for a child or adult human if you start shouting Kevin? Other’s may need constant explanation whenever you check your dog into the vets or groomers, “Yes, Sansa, did you ever watch Game of Thrones?”
But whether it’s for their original definition or the nostalgic pull, Fido, Rover and Spot always stick around. Whilst the names may not make it to the top of the list for popularity now, they are unquestioned in the dog world.
Fido, the faithful friend. Rover, the explorer and Spot, well Spot just had the best adventures ever.