Medieval “doggin it”

Written by Michael E Dehn

Founder and CEO of Metro Pulse a continually running enterprise since May 1980.

July 2, 2024

The Funniest Medieval Dog Names 


Alongside their eternal nemeses cats, dogs are the most popular pets in the world. They have been humans’ most faithful friends for at least 12,000 years, hunting with us, protecting us, and accompanying us in our everyday lives. In fact, dogs were the first domesticated animals, predating chickens, cows, goats, pigs, sheep, and even agriculture itself. By the medieval era, they were firmly embedded in homes across the world. They could be found walking alongside peasant poachers as they went out to hunt, or curled up at the feet of the greatest kings and queens of Europe. 


These pets, of course, had names. And thanks to a 15th-century British manuscript titled “The Names of All Manner of Hounds,” we have a fascinating insight into what canines were called in the Middle Ages. The unique manuscript, recently examined in an academic paper by researcher David Scott-Macnab, contains a list of 1,065 names given to hunting dogs during the period. It’s a treasure trove of mutt monikers, some of which truly deserve to come back into fashion (others, perhaps, not quite so much). Here are some of the funniest names on the list. 

Credit: Hulton Archive via Getty Images


Some of the best medieval dog names are those that reflect classic canine characteristics. As we all know, dogs possess a phenomenal sense of smell, as much as 100,000 times more sensitive than ours. Medieval dog owners were well aware of this canine trait, hence some wonderful olfactory-based names, including Goodynowze and Nosewise. Thanks to their superior noses, dogs are also good at finding things, so we also have the names Fynder and Fyndewell. Other sobriquets include Swifte for the agile canine, Wellyfedde and Plodder for the more languid dogs, and Letego for the dog who likes a game of tug-of-war. 

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Credit: Culture Club / Hulton Fine Art Collection via Getty Images




Some dogs, it’s true, aren’t the smartest of creatures. Medieval dog owners recognized this, and sometimes bestowed names on their pets that called into question their intellectual capacities. These unflattering appellations include Brayneles, Litillwitte, Symple, Careles, and Helpeles. They were all thoroughly good dogs, for sure, but perhaps not the brightest. 

Credit: Print Collector/ Hulton Archive via Getty Images


Our medieval ancestors didn’t stop at questioning the intelligence of their dogs. They also besmirched their canine companions with unflattering names that left little to the imagination. Filthe was one such name, alongside Lewde, Oribull, Synfull, Dredefull, Vagrawnte, Wrecche, and Badde. Hopefully these designations all came from a place of love, and the dogs didn’t resent their owners for saddling them with the less-than-lovely names. 



Credit: Culture Club/ Hulton Archive via Getty Images


Medieval dog names weren’t all defamatory — many were very positive. For the ever-amiable hound there are names such as Joliboye, Mery, Happy, and Cherefull. For dogs that can brighten even the gloomiest of days, we have Careaway and Havegoodday. Then there’s Pretiboy for all the good-looking pups out there, or Blameles for the dog that can do no wrong. Arguably the most superlative name on the list is Beste-of-all. 


Related:5 Facts About England’s Elizabethan Era

Credit: PHAS/ Universal Images Group via Getty Images


Dog owners in the Middle Ages were quite fond of naming their pets after foodstuffs. Fish-based names include Salmon and Halibutte, alongside other ingredients such as Mustarde, Garlik, Sage, and Rasyne. Consumables also appear among the most popular names for male and female dogs today. In 2023, the names Oreo, Ginger, Honey, Pepper, and Whiskey were all popular. Incidentally, only two names on the medieval-era list also frequently appear on modern lists of popular dog names: Belle and Ranger. 


Credit: Heritage Images/ Hulton Fine Art Collection via Getty Images


Many of the monikers listed in “The Names of All Manner of Hounds” don’t make much sense — at least to the modern ear — but nonetheless have a delightful ring to them. Who wouldn’t want a dog called Tullymully or Rowte-owte? And then there’s Dasyberde, Honyball, and Tynker. Of course, not everyone is quite as imaginative. Undoubtedly the least creative name on the list is Nameles, which shows a true lack of dog-naming effort. 

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