Did you know that in France all dogs born in the same year must start with a certain letter? French dog names are dictated by a naming convention that has been in place for nearly a hundred years!
On a trip to Paris one November, I learned an interesting piece of trivia that I had not come across while living in France. It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving and we were in our hotel room resting and watching the popular Sunday afternoon talk show called Vivement Dimanche with Michel Drucker. The show has been on forever! It is an interview-style show where Michel spends an hour with a famous guest talking about their life.
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On that particular Sunday, the guest was former French President Jacques Chirac. He was being interviewed on how life was post-Presidency. At the end of the show, Michel gave Mr. Chirac a puppy (they are/were both dog lovers) and made a comment to the effect of, “It's the year of the ‘E' what will you name him? Maybe Elysees?” I thought to myself, what the heck is he talking about?
The very next day while I was reading C'est la Vie by Suzy Gershman. I read the chapter where Suzy brings a dog from the U.S. to Paris. She had to take the dog to the vet and her vet became very confused with the dog's age after hearing the name. She had to explain that the dog was American and not French so its name did not follow the rules.
And that is how I found out there are dog-naming rules in France. Always new things to learn!
In 1926 the government decided that all dogs born in the same year would have a name beginning with the same letter. This was really to make it simpler for dog genealogists for dog shows, etc., but it was adopted everywhere. The letter “Z” was excluded due to the scarcity of names beginning with that letter. In 1973, they decided to remove 5 letters (K, Q, W, X, Y), for the same reason.
As of now, the system is only for purebreds and not pet shops or shelter animals. So you can still choose the perfect name without worry if you like, but isn't it more fun as a Francophile to have a French-inspired dog name?
Loving dogs the way you do a French version of your favorite name can certainly add some ‘je ne sais quoi' ! There are plenty of cute French names you can come up with. As a Francophile pet parent I am sure you can meet the challenge to find the perfect French dog name.
French Dog Names for 2023 start with U.
2024 is V! So start thinking of names now!
French names that start with U:
- Female: Ursa, Ursula, Ugoline, Uriel
- Male: Ulrich, Urbane
Or maybe wait until 2024…
French names that start with V:
- Female: Valeria, Valerie, Vale, Valena, Valene, Valentine, Violette, Vivi, Vivian, Verna, Vogue
- Male: Valentine, Vincent, Victor, Valmont, Varian, Verne, Virgile, Vivien, Vayle, Vern
Here are the future letters for the French Naming Convention for dogs.
Mr. Misadventures and I are always thinking of getting a dog, so as a francophile married to a Frenchman, and we play around with french names for dogs for whatever year it is all the time!
French Dog Breeds
There are 61 dog breeds that originated in France. A lot, right? Here are some you are probably familiar with: French bulldog (which just got named the most popular breed in America!), Basset Hound, Great Pyrenees, Papillon, Brittany, Bichon Frisé, beagles, and more!
How about you? Do you live in France and used this system? Is there a similar system in your country? If you live in the US, what do you think of this system?
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