Medieval List Reveals 1,065 Dog Names Suitable for the Historic Humans’ Pups

Medieval Dog Book

A hunting scene from Gaston Phoebus's “Livre de la Chasse.” The book includes chapters called “On the Nature and Care of Dogs” and “On Instructions for Hunting with Dogs.” (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

Dogs have been man's best friend for millennia. These loyal canines have warmed the laps of queens, guarded flocks of livestock, and chased down stags with hunting parties. And, it turns out, creative and cute names for them have been around just as long as dogs have been domesticated. One unique medieval text contains a list of 1,065 dog names perfect for pups. This list, known as “The Names of All Manner of Hounds,” offers some great names modern dog owners might want to consider such as Achilles, Meryman, Russette, Synfull, and Honeydewe.

This list of dog names is contained in a mysterious manuscript written and compiled around 1460–1480. It was in the collection of Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, until 2006. The manuscript collects texts on hunting and sporting, a princely pastime in the middle ages. The list of dog names is intended for hunting hounds: “running hounds, terriers, and greyhounds.” Some names take inspiration from royal historical figures, such as Charlemayne, Nero, and Romulus. Others are cute animal monikers such as Dolfyn, or jobs like Tynker and Monke. Some are elegant titles such as Duchesse or Damysell. Scholar David Scott-Macnab delved into the list in a scholarly article, illuminating the world of historical dog ownership.

While medieval hunting manuals were practical and instructive, they (along with medieval art) demonstrate that dogs were a rich, integral part of medieval European life. Like medieval cats, dogs figured heavily in art. Pups appear in effigies on tombs, painted in illuminated manuscripts, and carved into medallions. Troy, Nosewise, Amiable, Nameles, Clenche, Bragge, Ringwood, and Holdfast… the dogs in these artworks may have carried anyone of these creative names. Across the centuries, the love between dogs and humans persists. Next pup you adopt, give it a medieval moniker to celebrate this long history.

A late 15th-century list of 1,065 dog names includes creative ones like Troy, Bragge, Amiable, and Holdfast.

Medieval Dog Medallion

Medallion with Varlet with Horn and Hound, French, ca. 1240–60. (Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Public domain)

The list comes from a manuscript including hunting instructions for wealthy sportsmen.

Medieval Dog Tomb

Tomb Effigy of a Boy, Probably Ermengol IX, Count of Urgell, Catalan, first-half of the 14th century. (Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Public domain)

What medieval name would you give your dog?

Medieval Dog Medallion

Pendant, France, 14th century. (Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Public domain)

h/t: [Open Culture]

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and studying law while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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