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French Culture – French Dog Names

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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!

French Dog Names

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 famous 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.

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 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.

I am not sure what systems are set up to police or govern this. I certainly wouldn’t want to be restricted in naming my pets. Maybe it is only for purebreds and not pet shop or shelter animals. Do any of my French readers know?

Names for 2020 started with R.

2021 is S!

Here are the future letters for the French Naming Convention for dogs.

Mr. Misadventures and I are thinking of getting a dog soon, so as a francophile married to a Frenchman, and are thinking of names with the letter S.

Do you have any suggestions?

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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French Culture: French Dog Names


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