French Language Blog

Names for French Dogs Born in 2016 Must Start with the Letter… Posted by on Jan 14, 2016 in Culture

Naming a dog can be a lot of fun, but it’s also a very serious decision.

Your choice is important as votre toutou (your doggy) will have to carry this name the rest of his life. C’est pour cette raison que (it’s for this reason [that]) you need to choose wisely: don’t pick a name that sounds similar to a common word he’ll hear often or command you’d like him to follow later (no iPhone or Fetch). You need to choose something he’ll be able to recognize easily and that you won’t be embarrassed yelling at the park. You need to choose something that isn’t too long – any more than 2 syllables can be confusing for him, and it can get tiring having to call out Baron von Fluffyface over and over. If you’re in France, you need to make sur your new friend’s name begins with the letter M.

That’s right: if you want to register your dog with the S.C.C. (Société Centrale Canine or Central Canine Society in English) — the agency responsible for connections between governmental groups and dog clubs — you need to follow specific naming rules. 

The S.C.C. was founded in 1881 to sponsor dog shows, and in 1885, afin de préserver ([in order] to preserve) native dogs to France, the S.C.C. published a book called Livre des origines français (Book of French Origins). In the late 1950s, the French Ministry of Agriculture formally recognized the book as the official listing for purebred dogs in France, including foreign breeds. For your dog to officially be registered as purebred (for both private ownership and breeding purposes), you need to go through the S.C.C.

What does all of this have to do with M (No, I’m not talking about -M-)? For the first quarter of the 20th century, there were no rules established by the S.C.C. for naming your dogs, but in 1926, that all changed. The organization decided that all dogs born in the same year would have a name beginning with the same letter. The idea is that by just hearing a dog’s name, it’s easy to know when he was born, something many breeders wish to know. Every year, the next letter in the alphabet would be chosen, with the letter Z being skipped. Over the years, the organization learned that names starting with K, Q, W, X, and Y were just as scarce as Z, so in 1972, those letters were retired after only being used once. With 6 letters officially removed, the alphabet starts over after 20 years.

Don’t worry, if you’re not worried about your dog being listed as a chien de race (purebred or pedigree dog), then this rule does not concern you! That being said, many families still adopt this practice for fun and name their dogs based on the letter of the year.

With 2015 a thing of the past, 2016 was able to roll out its new letter: M!

Below I’m presenting you my top 24 masculine and feminine M names for your dogs:

Masculin :

Féminin :

*= In English, we can use “Fido” when referring to a dog in general. It’s understood that you’re talking about a dog, just like it’s understood you’re referring to a cat if you say “Fluffy.” The French equivalent of “Fido” in this sense is Médor.

What are some of your favorite M- names?

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About the Author: Josh Dougherty

Just your typical francophile. If you have any topics you'd like me to discuss, feel free to let me know!


  1. Tom Sanders:

    In three years French people can still name their dogs Fido if they spell it Phideaux.