NYC's Top Dogs: Mapping Names & Breeds in the City

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

If you own a dog in New York City, odds are it’s a mutt named Max.

The city’s dog licensing records show that out of almost 100,000 registered dogs, this is the most common breed and name in town. WNYC obtained the complete list from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which runs the dog licensing program.

The first thing you notice is the names. The most popular ones in the city hew pretty close to the most popular names across all English-speaking countries: Max, Bella, Lucky, etc. But this is New York, so there have to be some named Jeter (40 dogs) and Carmelo (7). In a town also known for its fashion, that explains the prevalence of dogs named Chanel (44), and Dolce (39). There are 83 dogs named Gucci. We've come a long way from Rover.

Dr. Stanley Coren, a psychologist and canine enthusiast who’s written about a dozen books on human-dog interaction, said he wasn’t surprised that such pop culture reference names go over big in the city.

“New York is more sensitive to the news and that sort of thing,” Coren said. “I would expect there to be a slightly higher likelihood of the press-related names. I would expect, for example, that Snoopy would appear somewhere in the top list, whereas when I look at all English-speaking countries, it doesn’t.”

Coren is correct: there are hundreds if not thousands of dogs in New York City named after movie stars, cartoon characters, musicians, and more. And Snoopy is ranked No. 33 in the top-50 names for male dogs in New York City.

But the Health Department estimates that only one in five dogs are licensed, so that's hardly the whole story. Four out of five dogs are undocumented.

It’s against the law to own a dog in the city and not get it licensed. The Health Department says licensing helps reunite lost dogs with their owners, and reminds owners to keep up with vaccinations for their best friend. The proceeds from registration fees support the operation of animal shelters in the city. The penalty for getting caught by a police officer or park official with an unlicensed dog is a summons and $200.

An unscientific survey of dog owners in Tompkins Square Park in Manhattan's East Village on a Thursday afternoon reveals most of them are oblivious to the rule, the reasons for getting a license, and the penalty for going without one.

“Laziness, mainly laziness,” said one owner of an unlicensed dog, explaining why he hadn’t registered his one-and-a-half-year-old Affenpinscher with the city. The owner asked that he remain nameless for fear of incriminating his dog, to which he gave the alias “Bodean.”

“There’s no conspiratorial reasons of bureaucracy looming over my head. I just do not feel like filling out the forms or mailing them in,” the owner said. “And because he’s so small it’s like, he’s not gonna pose any threat. He’s five pounds. At some point I probably will, it’s just been an oversight.”

The Health Department’s records show that small dogs like “Bodean” have the run of this town. Mixed-breed dogs are the most popular, but Yorkies, Shih Tzus, Chihuahuas, and Malteses round out the top five.

Nearly 5,000 Yorkies are licensed in the city, and more than 4,700 Shih Tzus. Neighborhood by neighborhood, these are usually the most popular dogs. The East Village doesn't buck the trend; Yorkies are most popular. But English Bull Dogs seem to be more popular in lower Manhattan, and Pit Bulls are all over Bed Stuy.

For more on the most popular names and breeds throughout the city, check out our complete interactive series on New York dogs.


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Comments [30]


You can just take a look at this male dog names web

May. 12 2013 06:25 AM
S oconnell

We named our puppy Cappie and we'veyet to run in to anyone else that has named their dog the same!

Apr. 08 2013 03:39 AM
Jennifer Avis from Washington, DC

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Mar. 06 2013 05:26 PM
Suzy Allman from Rye NY

You have only to look around the parks and greenways in New York City -- not to mention Harriman State Park and the state parks of New Jersey, where so many New Yorkers bring their dogs for a weekend hike -- to see that, while Yorkie owners were sleeping, the pit bull terrier, in all its wonderful variety, has ascended to New York's Top Dog position.

These are the dogs that fill New York City shelters, but hard-working rescue groups and Facebook advocacy pages (like Bruised Not Broken and Urgent Part 2) are pulling off incredible, 11th-hour saves of death-row dogs via social media. Pits are being pulled from the shelters' "death row" in record numbers by rescue groups, undaunted by the grim statistics and doing the work the city should do, but doesn't. And kind-hearted New York families are adopting pits from a kill-happy shelter system run by, of all things, the city's Department of Health.

Not only is their work inspiring, it's remaking the reputation of these oft-maligned, now beloved family dogs. Nothing's more American than the mutt, and nothing says "New York"-- the city of second chances, of tough love and redemption -- like a rescued pit bull.

Feb. 08 2013 01:51 PM
Dr Sara from Bronx

As a veterinarian in New York city, I am amazed how many dogs in Manhattan below 96th street are not current on their Rabies vaccine. In Harlem, the city penalises Pit Bull owners as if that is the only breed of dogs that would catch Rabies. It will only take one Rabid Raccoon to bite a few non vaccinated dogs that run free in the morning in Central Park, to create panic.

I think the city must create special designed collars(Fashionistas join in) for dogs that are licensed which means that they are current on their Rabies vaccine. This way, if they are flying joyously in the park, prancing royally on a city street or just catching a ride in their Gucci bags, we as residents of NYC will know that these pooches, like cars, are cared and accounted for

Feb. 07 2013 08:31 AM

Thanks for giving us this useful information. I have come some advice to about NYC Dog Daycare. Thanks for sharing.....

Feb. 03 2013 04:54 PM
April from Manhattan

Why can't i send this? You keep saying there's an error/

Jan. 31 2013 10:46 AM
Dennis Lonergan from Manhattan

The "schipperke" choice on the t-shirt making app does not work. Can somebody fix it?

Jan. 27 2013 06:35 PM
liz Wheeler from Staten Island

Ooooops - I had not enlarged the map and seen Staten Island - sorry - but that's a very small amount of dogs given the population on SI. Are there so few registered? How is the licensing enforced? If someone is at the dog park with an unlicensed pup can they get ticketed?

Jan. 25 2013 04:07 PM
Liz Wheeler from Staten Island

So, now that Sandy is gone, Staten Island is no longer part of NYC?

Jan. 25 2013 04:01 PM
Kay from Manhattan from New York City

Nice illustration of the dogs to go along with the story! Very cute.

Jan. 25 2013 11:49 AM

Four out of five dogs are undocumented? Does the GOP need any more evidence for comprehensive immigration reform? SMH!

Jan. 25 2013 10:21 AM
Ganeshagirl from Greenwich Village/NYC

Wow, such grumpiness!
I thought having a pet is suppose to lower blood pressure and make one more sanguine. After 20 years as a cat owner (and still one) I got a dog. It's wonderful! Made sure I have the time and attention to give it. Met more people in my neighborhood (Greenwich Village) in 6 months than in 22 years of living in the same building! I guess small dog owners are more likely to register their dogs. There are a lot of other ones, bigger, terriers, shepherds, etc.,that live in my area. I did register easily accomplished online. Ihave an Aussie (she's amazing). She loves the city, because there are so many dogs to play with! And a reasonable amount of dog parks (wish there were more) Smile folks! It's not all bad for a dog in NYC, if you are responsible!!!!

Jan. 24 2013 07:21 PM
luhu from NYC

Problem is, no one asked the dogs. NYC is a miserable place for dogs.

The gigantic noises and street level shapes frighten them, especially the little ones. They are freezing in winter and the black tar burns their feet in the summer, as they stand at every corner, waiting for the light to change. Most are alone all day, when they are creatures meant for a social pack. They get filthy and so have to have lots of grooming which is rarely a dog favorite. None of them get enough daily exercise. It's not a happy life from a dog's point of view.

If you really love dogs and live in NYC--get a cat!--an animal that is truly fine with apartment life and its 9 to 5 aloneness.

Jan. 24 2013 06:40 PM
Renee Dunaway from NYC

Manhattan Borough President Scott Singer just-released report “Led Astray: Reforming New York City’s Animal Care & Control" actually states that only 10% of NYC dogs are in compliance, and the licensing program, if properly managed by AC&C, has potential of generating $20mm/year revenue. Bottom line relating to this post: the sample size is too small to have these findings represent NYC dog breeds.

Jan. 24 2013 06:14 PM
Trudy Delich

Dog Iicensing is yet another example of government working at it's finest! The responsible comply (and some who are responsible do not because they know, for example, that excessive shots are very harmful to their beloved the research).
The ones who need to be held accountable will not register for sure. One big ineffective government system hobbling along in various arenas. What else is new? More rules to "correct"? Good luck on that one! Kind of like gun control.

Jan. 24 2013 03:02 PM

I LOVE the art work on this page... How can I get a copy of it?

Jan. 24 2013 12:00 PM
John Reilly from Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn

Hey, What about Gerritsen Beach? We were forgotten with the Sandy Storm. How about just a mention. By the way my cats are Annie and Fredricka. The last dog we had was Dusty a German Shepherd and whatever mix.

Jan. 24 2013 11:21 AM
gabrielle roake from Chelsea

Makes me happy that I have a dog named Wilba!

Jan. 24 2013 11:09 AM

How is it my registered little shih tzu/bichon mix, Georgia, was overlooked? (Upper West Side)

Jan. 24 2013 10:32 AM
Jane Brackman from Altadena CA

Oh my, how we've changed. The most popular names for dogs 1700 to 1800: Beauty, Bangor, Boman, Bonny, Bouncer, Captain, Chanter, Countess, Ceasar, Dido, Driver, Dancer, Daphne, Dutchess, Faney, Flippant, Fiddler, Gallant, Hector, Juggler, Jewel, Joler, Jolly, Juno, Kilbuck, LIvely, Lady, Madam, Merryboy, Mopsie, Motley, Nancy, Plunder, Pluto, Rockwood, Ringwood, Rover, Ranter, Ranger, Ruffler, Soundwell, Stately, Thisbe, Thunder, Tattler, Touchstone, Traveller, Trouncer, Trusty, Trier, Venus, Vulcan, Violet, Wanton, Wonder, Whisper, Younker.

Jan. 24 2013 08:50 AM
Paula's mom

People, Remember, it is only REGISTERED DOGs, and as it was mentioned, only one out of Five dogs are registered in NYC. Common people, it's not difficult. Just register you pooch.

Jan. 23 2013 09:39 PM
Bennett Windheim from Washington Heights

The amount of poop on our streets would indicate that Washington Heights - conspicuous by its absence on this map - has the highest dog to person ratio per capita in the entire tri-state area.

Jan. 23 2013 08:48 PM

I'm surprised no mention is made of the Gansevoort Street section - which is home to over 100 Shiba Inu's!!

Jan. 23 2013 07:57 PM
dmeier from Manhattan

My goodness. This is an adorable little piece of much needed distraction and all I see is grumpy old guys complaining that it isn't something 'else'! For god's sake, lighten up, guys.

And thank you WNYC for such a sweet bit of trifle.

Jan. 23 2013 06:37 PM
Napoleon Bonaparte from Brooklyn

I can't believe that journalist have enough time to waste on this subject. I think that these dogs have enough love and attention from their owner. Give them a break and use your precious time to investigate MTA, Port Authority, Wall street, homeless...and so many other major subjects in our city.

Jan. 23 2013 06:15 PM
nathan from Hoboken, NJ

Another example of something that would have taken a couple more hours to include parts of NJ in it where you clearly have members...

Jan. 23 2013 05:51 PM

The DOHMH online license system makes it impossible to keep in compliance with the system. I originally registered my dog electronically when I adopted him (well the shelter did it) and got a new license after I lost the first-- but I then forgot my password, could not remember by secret answers and could not get a new password. I can't create a new account because his license and rabies info is already in the system. No luck with 311 or email to the department. So why invest in a marketing campaign to encourage registration if the system is so difficult to use (hard to remember a password for something most people log onto once a year)?

Jan. 23 2013 02:18 PM
ed from Baltimore

No offense meant, but this is sort of garbage in/garbage out when so few owners have licenses. The main data point you can gleam is that Yorkie and Shih Tzu owners register their dogs more than other dog owners.

Jan. 23 2013 10:33 AM
Michele from Princeton Junction, NJ

Any Cavalier King Charles Spaniels?

Jan. 23 2013 10:24 AM

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