If you are in France and a stray dog goes by you may hear people call the dog by a name but it may not be the dog’s actual name. The French love their pets and have some typical pet names that they use.
In French, the dog says “ouaf-ouaf”.
Some of the more traditional names are:
Lassie – An old-time favorite that made its way over the Atlantic.
Rintintin – Another dog that became a hero and whose fame crossed the oceans.
Oscar – a friend of deer
Rex – king
Medor – the equivalent of Rover
Titou – Short form of Antonius or Antoine meaning highly praiseworthy.
The French have a tradition to name their dogs based on a letter that year. The letter for 2017 was N, in 2018 it was O, and in 2020 it was P so many people named their dogs with names starting with P like Pascal, Pierre, Penelope… You get the idea. In 2021, the letter will be Q. Of course, not everyone follows this rule.
The word for dog in French is Chein if it is a male dog or Chienne if it is a girl dog. So some people call their dogs -dog or Chien (m) or Chienne(f).
If someone says to you in French “Avoir du Chien” they are not implying that you are a dog but complimenting you. It means that you are attractive. It is used mainly for women.
The common synonym for a dog in French is ‘toutou’ so some people call their dog ‘Toutou’.
The word for a puppy is ‘un chiot’ and is used interchangeably for male or female dogs.
There are other derogatory words for a dog that you would not call your beloved pet, so stay away from slang words for dog, like ‘un cabot’ (a mutt), ‘un roquet’ (a pug), ‘un clebs’ (slang for dog or mutt) or ‘un cle’bard’ (mongrel).
According to the website Nomdunchein.com the top names for dogs are:
Snoopy – Beloved Peanuts character by Charles Schultz.
Tina – Christian usually a girl’s name.
Sam – together, short for Samuel or Samantha, means God has heard.
Salty – Salle in feminine form and Sale’ in masculine form Sounds like Sally in English.
Ulysse – the French version of Ulysses. Some famous Frenchmen with that name are/were:
- Ulysse Adjagba a French basketball player,
- Ulysse Bozonnet (1922-2014) French ski mountaineer,
- Ulysse Chevalier (1841-1923) French Historian
Chipie – Literally a bitch, a female dog but it does not have a positive slang connotation.
Rocky – Rocky or rugged (m)
Roxane – Dawn (F)
Max – Short for Maxamillien, a male name coined by Fredrich III for his son in 1459, a combination of the names of two Roman generals, Maximus and Scipio Aemilianus.
Lady – the female head of the household.
Ugo – a variant on the spelling of Hugo as in Victor Hugo who wrote Les Miserables, or meaning mind or intellect.
Tequila – as in the Mexican liquor.
Simba – As in the Disney movie Lion King
Ramse – As in the Egyptian pharaoh. Usually a male name.
Teddy – As in Theodore, or endearment for bears. It means “wealthy protector”, “brave people” or “God’s gift” It is related to four Old English names, Edmund and Ted, Theobald from German, and Theodore from Greek.
Titus – name of a Roman military commander who became Emperor
Maya – Short for the Hebrew name Maayan which means spring or brook. French form of the name Maia meaning midwife, mother, and sublime.
Tania – meaning fairy queen
Adeline – meaning noble
Adele – a form of Adeline
Adieu – meaning Farewell
Ame’ – Beloved
Amie – Friend
Anastasie – meaning resurrection
Antionette – Name of the Queen married to Louis the XIV
Babette – means My God is MY Oath, diminutive form of the name for Elizabeth or Barbara
Babou – it is an alternative form of Baboe
Bearnaise – French sauce
Bebe – Antoinette Baby
Bijou – Jewel
Brie – Type of French cheese.
Ce’cile – One of the shining lights, after Saint Cecile the patron Saint of music.
Chantal – meaning stone, Chantel means song
Chloe – meaning blooming or fertility in Greek, or young green shoot.
Coquelicot – Poppy
Coquette – Flirt
Corinne– meaning beautiful maiden
Cosette– meaning victorious, but it does not appear to be used as a first name until the Frenchman Victor Hugo used it in his main character for Les Miserables
Edith– meaning riches or blessed. The French version has a line slanting left above the E, known as the accent aigu, as opposed to the accent slanted the other way known as grave.
E’lise – French form of Elizabeth meaning “ My God is an oath” or “MY God is abundance”
E’lodie – meaning foreign riches
Esme’– Esteemed or beloved
Felicite’ – Happy or lucky
Fille – Girl
Fleur – Flower
Genevieve – meaning women of the race
Gigi – meaning “earth worker” or “God is gracious”. It is the pet name for Georgina or Virginia. Made popular by the 1958 musical where Maurice Chevalier sang “Thank Heaven for Little Girls”.
Josephine – The name of the Empress, Napoleon’s wife.
Libellule – Dragonfly
Louise – feminine form of Louis and a known royal name for a girl.
Madeline – related to Magdala, meaning elevated, gret, magnificent.
Monique – meaning advisor, the French form of the name Monica.
Papillon – Butterfly
Penelope – Meaning weaver, also in Greek Mythology, Odysseus’s wife who waited for twenty years for his return.
Renee – French form of the Roman name Rentus, meaning reborn or born again.
Sabine – meaning Sabine woman, and is of Latin origin. The Sabines were a tribe that lived in the central Apennines of ancient Italy.
Simone – meaning harkening, French feminization of Simon.
Sophie – meaning wisdom, equivalent to Sophia.
Therese – means harvester
Valentine – meaning sweetheart
Valarie – meaning strength, health
Vivien – Lively
Adrien – dark
Alfred – English meaning elf cousel
Amaury – meaning work power
Amoureux – Lover
Andre’ – Male warrior, manly
Antoine – priceless
Aramis – one of the three musketeers by Andre Dumas
Armand – soldier
Arnaud – powerful eagle
Aubin – White
Baldoin – Brave friend
Beau – handsome
Bonaparte – as in the Emperor Napoleon
Bruno – meaning brown – the French word for brown is brun meaning brown, dark, or tan.
Chanceux – Lucky
Charles – meaning free man
Damien – meaning to tame
Danton – praiseworthy
D’Artagan – one of three musketeers by Andre Dumas.
Eloi – meaning the chosen
E’mile – to strive or excel
Flaneur – loafer or a stroller
Franco – Relating to French
Gaston – meaning guest, host, may actually be a surname.
Gilles – meaning shield-bearer, the name of a French hermit St. Gilles
Heureux – Happy
Hugo – as in Victor Hugo
Jacques – French form of Jacob or James drive from the Hebrew “taken by the heel”
Julien – meaning youthful, or sky father
Laurent – meaning struggled
Leon – Lion
Louis – as in the French kings
Luc – man from Lucania, a region in southern Italy
Lucienne – meaning light. Lucy, Lucie, and Lucien are the feminine versions.
Marcel – meaning belonging to Mars
Marius – meaning belonging to Mars, also possibly the sea which is a mare in French
Maurice – meaning dark-skinned
Marvel – Wonder or admire
Matisse – famous french painter
Merle – meaning for blackbird
Milou – meaning snowy, a good name for a white dog.
Noir – Black
Odie – meaning melody, can be used for a male or female
Oliver – Old French surname of Olivier. From Germanic Alfar meaning elf, army/warrior
Pascal – Mischievous
Rafale – Gust of wind, a burst of fire
Remy – an oarsman, sometimes spelled Remi
Rififi – Trouble
Stephane – french equivalent for Stephen, meaning notable
Tristan – sad or sorrowful, in Welsh it means clanking sword
Theo – gift of God
Yves – yew wood
Names Based on French Landmarks
Eiffel – as in the tower in Paris
Paris – the capital of France
Lyon – city northeast of France
Marseille – city on the Mediterranean coast of France
Bordeaux – city on the east coast of France
Avignon – not far from Marseille in Southwest of France
Lille – a city close to the northeastern border with Belgium
Names Inspired by French People
Coco – Coco Chanel the designer
Marquis – Marquis de Sade
Napoleon – The dictator
Pascal – Blaise Pascal
Jacques – Jacques Torres
Louis – Louis Pasture or the Kings
Victor or Hugo – Victor Hugo the author of Les Miserables
If someone tells you in French “Dormir en chein de fusil” they are saying ‘you sleep like a ‘gun’s hammer’ meaning you sleep curled up as a dog does’.
If you did not find what you are looking for check out 500 French Dog Names on Puppy Leaks