Japanese Dog Names: A Tribute to Everything Japanese

Japanese Spitz Puppy in a leash lying down
Written by David Jones

If you’re here, you’re probably thinking that choosing a Japanese dog name for your dog is a good idea, because the name will sound exotic and unique especially if you live in the United States. I agree wholeheartedly with that. Sure, if you live in the west, Japanese dog names sound strange, and your friends are probably going to have a hard time pronouncing your dog’s name. However, we also know that unique names are “in” right now.

Japanese names are still uncommon in the west, which is one of the best reasons why you should consider giving this type of name to your dog. Just imagine calling your best friend in a busy dog park, and he comes to you quickly because no other dog has the same name. Owners will want to know where your dog got his name or what it means. Also, Japanese names do not sound like any English command, so your dog won’t get confused during training.

Japanese Akita Inu dog in a studio

We don’t usually have a list of Japanese names lying around waiting for our best friend, but don’t despair because that’s what this article is for. We have ideas for names based on their personality, color, characteristics, and gender. If you’re worried that you won’t be able to pronounce your own dog’s name properly, don’t be. We’ve made sure to pick Japanese names that aren’t too hard on our western tongue. Before you peruse the list of names, we have a few preceding tips that we believe should be kept in mind.

Tips on How to Name Your Dog

Picking a name for your dog is more overwhelming than you think. Aside from the names that you’re already considering, it’s likely that family, friends and other people will suggest names as well. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to pick a name for your dog. The most important consideration is to choose a name that you love. Here are some tips to consider if you’re still feeling confused about your dog’s Japanese name.

How Does It Sound?

Japanese names sound strange and foreign in the west which is why you should exercise care in choosing a name. When looking for a name, consider the sound. Does it sound harsh, sharp, or offensive?

Close-up of a Japanese Chin dog

For example, Saiko (SAA-iy-Kow) is a popular Japanese name for girls; it means serene child. In the United States, it means something else. Yudai is another good example. It is a good name for a boy because it means brave. In the United States, people might find it offensive if you shout “Yudai” at a dog park to call your dog because it’s like you’re screaming for somebody to die.

Other awkward examples include Yuu (because it sounds like “you”), Yumi (you, me), Nobu, and Fukuyo (the last two don’t really sound bad especially if pronounced correctly. However, they look bad especially if you think in English).


Japanese names are already unique if you live in the west. If you’re in Japan, they’re quite common. For example, Sakura is a very popular name for girls. The same is true for Kenta for boys. If you ever find yourself living or staying in Japan with your dog, don’t be surprised to hear these names often.

Little dog sitting on leafs and looking up to his owner

Incidentally, the Japanese word for dog is “inu.” If you decide to name your dog Inu, it will be unique in the west, but generic in Japan and lots of dogs and people will probably be looking at you wondering why you chose to name your dog, “dog.”

Names That Age Well

Some of us get dogs during their puppyhood. At this time they are all cute and cuddly creatures so it can be hard to picture them as adult dogs with jobs. But puppies grow up so it’s better to picture your pup as an adult and find names that will still be suitable for him even when he’s grown.

adorable dog lying down and relaxing

Names like Koinu literally means puppy in Japanese and doesn’t sound bad in the west. However, it can be funny for people who understand Japanese that you would be calling an adult or senior dog Koinu. In this connection, it is also better to avoid names like ramen, soba (a kind of noodle), tempura, sashimi, sake, ryokucha, or sushi.

The Best Japanese Dog Names

Ready for a comprehensive list of some of the best dog names available? We will separate the Japanese dog names we have into several categories. We’ll start with names divided by gender, names that symbolize certain personalities, colors, size, and then wrap the article up with names inspired by famous Japanese landmarks.

Japanese Dog Names by Gender

When you get a dog, the first thing you usually think about is their gender. Did you get a boy or a girl or maybe both? Names based on gender are easy because it immediately gives you a category to look for.

Gorgeous japanese-spitz playing in the snow

Just like with western names, Japanese names are strictly divided by gender. That is to say, some names are specifically meant for females while others are for males, while a few of them can be used for both sexes.

Dog Names by Gender #1: Female

In Japan, the ideal female figure is known as “Yamato Nadeshiko,” or one that’s gentle, kind, and loving. Since the Japanese associate females with elegance, their female names usually resonate with something heartwarming, such as flowers or feelings of affection. Here are some fabulous Japanese dog names female to give to your Yamato Nadeshiko:

  • Airi – ai meaning love and ri for jasmine or pearl

  • Akiko – aki is for red or autumn. Ko is a common suffix attached to girl names, such as “-a” (Alexa, Maria) in western names

  • Chieko – chi is for wisdom or thousand

  • Chou — for butterfly

  • Emi – e is for blessing or favor. E can also be for picture and mi is for beautiful

  • Hana — flower

  • Hikari –light

  • Hinata — sunflower or facing the sun

  • Hisa — long-awaited

  • Hoshi — for the “star” in your life

  • Izumi — fountain or spring

  • Kaede – for dogs that love sweet maple nectar or maple leaves

  • Kaori — for scent, perfume, fragrance. It can also come from ka “smell, perfume,” and ori for weaving

  • Kawaii — cute or darling pooches

  • Mai — meaning dance or linen robe. It can also come from ma, meaning real or true, and ai for love or affection

  • Mariko – ma is for real or true, and ri is for village

  • Megumi — beautiful blessing

  • Mei — me is for bud or sprout, and i is for clothing/garment

  • Michiko — mi is for beautiful, and chi means wisdom or intellect

  • Mika – mi is for beautiful, combined with ka for smell or perfume

  • Naomi — nao means honest and mi is for beautiful

  • Rei – means bell or lovely

  • Rina — ri is for jasmine or village, and na means vegetables or greens

  • Rio – ri is for jasmine or village, and o is for silky thread

  • Sakura – one of the most popular Japanese names, meaning cherry blossom

  • Sayuri — sa is for small, and yuri is for lily

  • Shinju –pearl

  • Shiori –to weave a poem

  • Sora –sky

  • Suki – the equivalent of “I like you.”

  • Suzu – means bell

  • Suzume – means sparrow

  • Ume — means plum, which symbolizes fidelity

  • Yuuna — yu is for yui, meaning bindings and na is for vegetables or greens

Dog Names by Gender #2: Male

Japanese males prize honor, loyalty, and a strong heart above all, so their names often have meanings that reflect those qualities.

black-pitbull resting in the shadow

Now, let’s check out some cool Japanese dog names male for your dog.

  • Akira – bright or clear

  • Arata — fresh or new

  • Haruki – haru means spring, while ki means radiance

  • Hikaru – light or radiance

  • Isamu – bravery or to be inspired by courage

  • Kaito — kai means the sea and to refers to the constellation Ursa Major. It can also mean to soar or fly

  • Kazuki — kazu means harmony. Ki means radiance or hope

  • Makoto – sincerity

  • Masaru — victory

  • Naoki – nao means honest or straight while ki is for tree

  • Ryuu — dragon

  • Seiji – perfect for dogs that work in law enforcement

  • Sentaro — sen means steel and taro is for boy—a good name for good boys

  • Shigeru — flourishing or luxuriant

Japanese Dog Names by Personality

Dogs, just like human beings, have their own personalities. Some of them are playful. Others like to sleep all day, and there are those that are sweet as honey.

Two dogs lying down on snow and looking at the camera

Their different personalities are evident even during puppyhood. If their personality isn’t immediately apparent, if you can afford to, we recommend taking a few days or maybe weeks to observe your dog’s personality. This can be your basis for their Japanese name. Here are a few inspirations to match your dog’s personality.

  • Akira (M) — good name for bright or smart dogs

  • Atsushi (M) – industrious, good name for working dog breeds

  • Chie (F) – wise or smart pooches

  • Hansuke (M) – very helpful friend and a good boy

  • Hisato (M) – because we all want our best friends to live a long and happy life

  • Jun (U) – obedient. Good name for good boys.

  • Kaiya (F) – because dogs are always forgiving

  • Kana (F) –for dogs with skills

  • Kazu (F)- for obedient boys and girls

  • Keiko (F) – a name for good girls

  • Madoka (F) – good choice if your dog is tranquil

  • Nani (F) – beautiful

  • Natsuko (F) –for puppies born during summer

  • Natsuo (M) – for puppies born during summer

  • Nozomi (F) – a good name for the dog you’ve hoped and wished for

  • Osamu (M) – disciplined

  • Sachio (F) – meaning “happy child.” It is a good name for cheerful dogs

  • Sato (F) – a good name for sweet puppies and pooches

  • Satoru (M) — fast learner. Good name for smart dogs

  • Shinobu (U) – endurance. For dogs who can go all day

  • Shiori (F) — guide. Can be used for guide or service dogs

  • Shizuka (F) – quiet. Some dog breeds hardly bark. Examples include the Basenji, Bull Mastiff, and the Greyhound.

  • Souji (M) – means general manager because some dogs are born leaders of the pack

  • Tadao (M) – loyal

  • Takahiro (M) – the noble guard dog

  • Takara (F)- for the dog you will forever treasure

  • Tomo (F) –intelligent. For smart doggies

  • Toshi (M) – alert or intelligent. Good name for guard or service dogs

  • Tsutomu (M) –for working dog breeds like German Shepherds or Border Collies

  • Yasashiku (M) – for gentle and polite pooches

  • Yasuko (F) – peaceful. Good name for dogs that avoid fights

  • Yori (M) – means servant to the public. Nice choice for service dogs

  • Yoshi (F) – good

  • Yuko (F) – is a great name for helpful dogs. Good choice for working dog breeds

Japanese Dog Names by Coat Color

Dogs come in many colors. Some of them are black, white, red, or a combination of colors. Naming your dog from their coat color is one of the easiest ways to pick a suitable moniker for your best friend.

A labrador dog lying down with his head up

The good news is that you won’t be stuck with generic names like Blackie, Whitey, or Spot. Well, you can still call them the equivalent Japanese translation of those names, but at least it won’t be obvious to other people. Here are some great examples.

  • Akako (F) – red

  • Akane (F) – brilliant red

  • Aki (F) – autumn

  • Aoi (U) – means blue. We know there are no blue dogs, but it can be an alternative to the name Blue.

  • Aya (F) — means color. A good choice for multi-colored dogs

  • Ayame (F) – iris flowers

  • Chika (F) — scarlet flowers

  • Fuyu(F) — winter

  • Gin (F) — silver

  • Hayate (M) — smooth

  • Kane (M) — golden. Can be given to Golden Retrievers or other breeds with gold or tan coats

  • Kasshoku (U) – brown

  • Kin (U) – gold. For golden retrievers or tan colored dogs

  • Kinu (F) — for dogs with silky coats

  • Kiyoshi (F) – pure

  • Kohaku (U) – amber. Good name for golden retrievers and other tan colored dogs

  • Kuro (U) — black

  • Madara (M) – an alternative for Spots

  • Maru (U) – ideal for merle-coated dogs

  • Masago (F) — sand

  • Murasaki (F) — purple, because you just want to be unique

  • Seijun (F) – pure. Good choice for a dog with a single color or perhaps all-white dogs

  • Shiro (U) — means white

  • Taiyo (M) – meaning sun. Can be used for tan colored dogs

  • Yoichi (M) – sunshine

  • Yoko (F) — child of the sun

  • Yuki (F) – snow. Good name for white colored puppies

Colors need not reflect their coats only. They can also be chosen because they are your favorite color.

Japanese Dog Names by Size

Size is another consideration when naming a dog. Dogs come in many sizes ranging from the teacup varieties which can fit in your hand to Clifford-like sizes.

close-up image of a little size puppy

Here are a few Japanese names for dogs of all sizes.

  • Akihiro – (M) meaning glory

  • Chisai (U) — for small dog breeds since it means small

  • Dai (M) – great, big dog

  • Hotaka (M) – means tall grain. Good choice for dogs like Basenji or Greyhounds and other dogs that are tall

  • Kaori (F) – strong

  • Kenichi (M) – strong and healthy

  • Kenta (M) – meaning healthy or strong, big or stout

  • Ooki (M) – for big boys

  • Taichi (M) – means large one

  • Takeo (M) – warrior. Can be given to guard or working dogs

  • Tatsuo (M) – dragon. For scary and intimidating dogs

  • Tsuyoshi (M) – strong

Japanese Names Inspired By Geography

Names of cities, states, and countries are also a very popular option. Here are some cool cities in Japan for dog name inspiration.

  • Ashi – for Lake Ashi

  • Fushimi – a shrine in Tokyo

  • Hokkaido – snowy northern area

  • Kobe – sixth largest city in Japan

  • Kyoto – a city located in the center of Japan

  • Osaka – one of Japan’s largest cities

  • Tokyo – Japan’s capital and most populous city

Wrap Up

Japan’s culture of tradition, loyalty, and honor has been around since 10,000 BC. These names embody their ancient beliefs that are also reflected in their haiku poetry, architecture, ikebana, and noble lifestyle that can be seen in the Samurai Bushido Code.

Japanese dog names are a beautiful choice for your puppies. If you own a Shiba Inu or other Japanese breeds, it is a great idea to find a Japanese name for them. Even if your dog is not a Japanese breed, you should still consider Japanese names for uniqueness or perhaps because you like the sound of them.

Two belgian sherped dogs playing with a toy on the grass

Have you just adopted a Japanese dog breed? Or perhaps you just love Japan? If you have any other good name suggestions, please share them in the comments section below! We would love to hear from you. Arigatou and mata ne!

About the author
David Jones