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From Taedo (loyal) to Momo (peaches), these unique names really stand out!

By Tracey L. Kelley
March 10, 2021
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Japanese is the ninth most common language in the world, spoken by more than 130 million people. This doesn't mean it's easy to learn! The U.S. Department of State lists Japanese as a Category IV language, which means it's "exceptionally difficult for native English speakers." Fortunately, there's no need to master the language if you desire a Japanese dog name for your new inu (dog)—you could always use an app like Duolingo to finesse pronunciations!  

Nearly a century ago, the Nihon Ken Hozonkai, or Japan Dog Preservation Society, identified six indigenous dog breeds as national natural monuments essential to the country's history and culture. Nihon is an ancient reference to Japan (specifically, 'Land of the Rising Sun'), and ken means region or prefecture. The Nihon Ken strives to protect the lineage of these breeds through registration, breeding, and awareness. Believed to be descendants of the mythical okuri-okami (sending wolf), these six breeds are:

Whether you have one of these auspicious breeds or simply want to demonstrate pride in your Japanese heritage, we've compiled a list of namae (given names) worthy of the honor.

Popular Japanese Dog Names

Although trends sometimes come and go, you can give your dog authentic flare with these popular names, including some suggestions from Sora News

  • Yuki (good fortune)
  • Tadeo (loyal)
  • Pochi (the Japanese equivalent of ‘Spot’)
  • Adzuki (red bean)
  • Runa (luna)
  • Taro (eldest son or boy)
  • Maron (somewhat related to the French word for chestnut, le marron)
  • Crea (a shortened version of create)
  • Kenzo (wise one)
  • Choco (inspired by the English word chocolate)
  • Maru (round)
  • Sakura (cherry blossoms)
Shiba-Inu
Credit: TaynaPanova /Getty

Japanese Dog Names Inspired by the Natural World

According to the University of Tokyo, "Japanese people have long appreciated the presence of life in all aspects of nature—from landscapes and climates that change seasonally to the plentiful freshwater found throughout the country." So add a different element (see what we did there?) to your pooch's pedigree with these natural selections.

  • Hoshi (star)
  • Umi (sea or ocean)
  • Bonsai (the bonsai tree)
  • Nami (wave)
  • Rina (jasmine)
  • Mori (forest)
  • Amaya (night rain)
  • Taiyo (sun)
  • Tsuki (moon)
  • Cho or Chou (butterfly or butterflies)
  • Yuki (snow)
  • Kumo (cloud)
  • Nori (seaweed)
  • Uchuu (the cosmos)
  • Taki (waterfall)
  • Kuuki (air)
  • Daichi (from the earth)
  • Kingyo (goldfish)
  • Aki (autumn)
  • Chisai tori (little bird)
  • Asami (morning beauty)
  • Sora (sky)

Cool Japanese Dog Names

What's hip or cool can be defined in various ways, so one of these monikers is bound to be a good fit!

  • Yoshi (good luck, good, righteous)
  • Akira (intelligent)
  • Jazu (jazz music)
  • Kiseki (miracle)
  • Ikigai (reason for being)
  • Arata (new and fresh)
  • Kenzan (the ‘spiky frog’ base used in ikebana or flower arranging)
  • Daiki (born for the great glory)
  • Itsuki (independance) 
  • Hideaki (bright and shining)
  • Zūmu (zoom)
  • Karafuru (colorful)
  • Kei (style)
  • Natsukashii (happy memories of the past)
  • Fuji (unique)

Cute Japanese Dog Names

Kawaii (cute or adorable) is a term that applies to a series of characters (Hello Kitty), clothing (like frilly, feminine looks), and even municipality mascots (such as Pipo-kun, which represents the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department). Your precious pooch fits right in!

  • Kirei (pretty)
  • Ai (love)
  • Bigaku (a love for beautiful things)
  • Ko (child)
  • Chibi (small child)
  • Akachan (baby)
  • Koro (roly-poly)
  • Chiisai (small)
  • Chīsana (pocket-size)
  • Aoi (the color blue)
  • Pinku (the color pink)
  • Kichōna (precious) 
  • Shuga (sugar)

Female Japanese Dog Names

Speaking of cute, you can choose any number of adorable tags for your sweet fur girl. 

  • Hana (flower)
  • Yumi (beautiful)
  • Shinju (pearl) 
  • Himari (light and love)
  • Aika (love song)
  • Bashira (joyful)
  • Yuri (lily)
  • Makoto (true)
  • Danuja (a ruler)
  • Haia (nimble)
  • Kiyo (pure)
  • Yamato (great harmony)
  • Eiji (cheerful)

Male Japanese Dog Names

From senshi (warrior) to ryuu (dragon), Nippon (the Japanese name for the country) offers many honorable choices perfect for your good boy.

  • Kimi (noble)
  • Akio (hero)
  • Katoro (small boy)
  • Toshiro (talented)
  • Eiji (prosperity or peace)
  • Benjiro (enjoys peace)
  • Taeko (brave)
  • Hiroshi (generous)
  • Ichiro (first son)
  • Kento (happiness)
  • Shohei (respect)
  • Tadaaki (faithful light)
  • Yuuma (truthful, gentle)

Japanese Food Names for Dogs

Give your little num-num fuzzball a clever name that makes him sit up and take notice. After all, what dog doesn't love his treats? (Note: actual food below might not be suitable for dogs. Just sayin'. Check out this helpful list of human foods that dogs can eat just to be on the safe side.)

  • Udon (a thick wheat flour noodle)
  • Sushi (raw fish with rice)
  • Sashimi (raw fish served without rice)
  • Pōkupan (pork bun)
  • Dango (sweet dumpling)
  • Soba (a buckwheat noodle)
  • Mochi (rice cake)
  • Yuzu (citrus fruit)
  • Kurumi (walnut)
  • Matcha (green tea)
  • Kit-Kat (yes, the candy bar!)
  • Izakaya (pub or bar)
  • Satsumaimo (sweet potato)
  • Senbei (rice cracker)
  • Momo (peach)

Japanese Dog Names Taken from Pop Culture

From anime to manga, video games to music, there's a world of pop culture to explore with a little wink and nod to some favorite (and classic!) trends.

  • Kirito (Kirigaya Kazuto from Sword Art Online)
  • Kyary (thought to be Japan’s modern pop music princess)
  • Pikachu (something that doesn’t make noise)
  • Taiko (Japanese drum)
  • Kon (famous film director Kon Ichikawa)
  • Gyaru (‘gal’—part of a fashion subculture)
  • Kogal (fashion term for schoolgirl outfits)
  • Kaiju (‘giant monster’ cinema style)
  • Tanka (modern shortform poetry)
  • Maki (from Street Fighter)