Native American naming traditions are very different to those of western culture. Most westerners give their children names that they like, names of relatives, or even names from famous television shows (yes, people are naming their children Khaleesi). For the most part, westerners keep their birth names for life, with only a few deciding to use legal means to change their names.
For Native Americans, though, names are not static. Oftentimes, names are given to describe a person, so a child’s name can change if it does not fit their personality. Even adults can earn new names based on their disposition, achievements, or struggles.
Although you’ll be considering a Native American name for your dog, we wouldn’t recommend that you follow tradition and change your dog’s name throughout the course of its life. It is possible to change a dog’s name, but it’s definitely better if you don’t have to.
Still, if you’re choosing a Native American name, it’s good to have a better understanding of the culture so that you can do so respectfully. If you’d like to honor Native American naming traditions, try picking a name that describes your dog in some way.
Also, some tribes have more than one language or dialect. We were able to provide which tribe a name has hailed from, but not always which exact language.
- Pronouncing Native American Names
- Native American Names Inspired by Nature
- Native American Animal Names
- Strong Native American Names for Dogs
- Cute Native American Names for Dogs
- Dog Names Inspired by Colors
- Male Native American Dog Names
- Female Native American Dog Names
- Names Inspired by Famous Native Americans
- Describing Your Dog With a Native American Name
Pronouncing Native American Names
If your first language is English and you don’t speak any Native languages, then you may have trouble pronouncing some of these names. We suggest you do further research on the names you like in order to find the proper pronunciation.
The Cherokee Nation’s website has a handy tool that allows you to search English words and see their translation into the Cherokee language as well as hear their pronunciation. Similarly, the Nez Perce tribe has information on how to pronounce their Nimipuutimt language.
Native American Names Inspired by Nature
While it is true that Native American cultures often respect and revere nature, we can all find a sense of wonder when witnessing its beauty and vastness. Not only that, but spending time outdoors can actually have a positive effect on one’s mental health.
If you’d like to honor nature, consider giving your dog one of these nature-inspired Native American names.
- Adoette (Kiowa) – Big tree
- Agali (Cherokee) – Sunshine
- Ama (Cherokee) – Water
- Atsina (Cherokee) – Juniper/Cedar
- Donoma (Omaha) – Visible sun
- Elohi (Cherokee) – Earth
- Jacy (Blackfoot) – The moon
- Kai (Navajo) – Willow tree
- Keme (Algonquin) – Thunder
- Koko (Blackfoot) – Night
- Lonan (Zuni) – Cloud
- Maka (Sioux) – Earth
- Misu (Miwok) – Rippling brook
- Mitena (Omaha) – New or coming moon
- Nahele (Hawaiian) – Forest
- Pavita (Hopi) – Clear water
- Shappa (Sioux) – Red thunder
- Soyala (Hopi) – Time of the winter solstice
- Taa (Zuni) – Seed
- Tadewi (Omaha) – Wind
- Tallulah (Choctaw) – Leaping water
- Tawa (Hopi) – Sun
- Tsayi (Cherokee) – Copper
- Waban (Algonquin) – Eastern wind
- Wyome (Algonquin) – Large plain
Native American Animal Names
To some, it may seem silly to name an animal after another animal. However, it’s not all that uncommon to name a dog something like Buck or Bear. Here are some Native American names that follow suit.
- Amagok (Inuvialuit) – Wolf
- Amaguk (Inupiat) – Wolf
- Amarok (Inuit) – Wolf
- Animosh (Algonquin) – Dog
- Apisi (Blackfoot) – Coyote
- Chayton (Sioux) – Falcon
- Dustu (Cherokee) – Spring frog
- Gitli (Cherokee) – Dog
- Hemene (Nez Perce) – Wolf
- Honan (Miwok) – Bear
- Honaw (Hopi) – Bear
- Honi (Arapaho) – Wolf
- Honiahaka (Cheyenne) – Little wolf
- Honovi (Hopi) – Powerful deer
- Kele (Hopi) – Sparrow
- Kimmik (Inupiat) – Dog
- Kiyaya (Yakima) – Howling wolf
- Kuruk (Pawnee) – Bear
- Maheegan (Algonquin) – Wolf
- Maikoh (Navajo) – Wolf
- Makwa (Algonquin) – Bear
- Miwak (Miwok) – Growl of a bear
- Mochni (Hopi) – Talking bird
- Nokosi (Seminole) – Bear
- Omitaa (Blackfoot) – Dog
- Onacona (Cherokee) – White owl
- Pakwa (Hopi) – Frog
- Sequoyah (Cherokee) – Sparrow
- Tauri (Laguna) – Young eagle
- Tikaani (Inuit) – Wolf
- Tokula (Lakota) – Fox
- Tonka (Dakota) – Bull
- Tsula (Cherokee) – Fox
- Waya (Cherokee) – Wolf
- Yansa (Cherokee) – Buffalo
Strong Native American Names for Dogs
As we explained before, Native Americans use names to describe the person the name belongs to. Therefore, having a name that has to do with strength would mean that person fits that description. We think dogs are some of the strongest creatures out there.
They’re able to quickly adapt to almost any situation, and in terms of physical strength, they have powerful jaws! Not only that, there are a number of dogs who are surprisingly strong for their size, as well as dogs that could easily pull their owners over.
Here are some strong Native American names for equally strong dogs.
- Alii (Hawaiian) – Chief
- Bidziil (Navajo) – He who is strong
- Enapay (Sioux) – Appears bravely
- Hania (Hopi) – Spirit warrior
- Hanska (Sioux) – Tall
- Hehewuti (Hopi) – Warrior mother spirit
- Hiamovi (Cheyenne) – High chief
- Hototo (Hopi) – Warrior spirit who sings
- Kahuna (Hawaiian) – Held in high esteem
- Kitchi (Algonquin) – Brave
- Koa (Hawaiian) – Strong and brave
- Kohana (Sioux) – Swift
- Micco (Seminole) – Chief
- Qaletaqa (Hopi) – Guardian of the people
- Tablita (Hopi) – Crown
- Tyee (Chinook) – Chief, leader, big, superior
- Ugatena (Cherokee) – Dragon
- Viho (Cheyenne) – Chief
Cute Native American Names for Dogs
It goes without saying that dogs are adorable. They will never not be adorable. As such, cute names are always an appropriate choice. These are some of our favorite cute Native American names.
- Alawa (Algonquin) – Pea
- Ani (Cherokee) – Strawberry
- Avu (Inupiat) – Sugar
- Iya (Cherokee) – Pumpkin
- Kamama (Cherokee) – Butterfly
- Kayi (Cherokee) – Nutmeg
- Kimi (Sioux) – Secret
- Losi (Cherokee) – Rose
- Mansi (Hopi) – Plucked flowers
- Miki (Inuit) – Little
- Mukki (Algonquin) – Child
- Nikan (Potawatomi) – My friend
- Nuna (Cherokee) – Potato
- Nuttah (Algonquin) – My heart
- Quanena (Cherokee) – Banana
- Sakari (Inuktitut) – Sweet
- Sihu (Hopi) – Flower
- Takoda (Sioux) – Friend to everyone
- Tapeesa (Inupiat) – Arctic flower
- Tiva (Hopi) – Dance
- Wachiwi (Sioux) – Dancing girl
- Weeko (Sioux) – Pretty
- Winona (Sioux) – Giving
Dog Names Inspired by Colors
Though dogs can’t see as many colors as we can, it’s a myth that they see in black and white. In fact, they can see shades of blue and yellow, though they are unable to see red, purple, or orange. Why not name your dog after your favorite color?
- Gigage (Cherokee) – Red
- ’Ilp’ílp (Nez Perce) – Red
- Mímqas (Nez Perce) – Orange
- Dalonige (Cherokee) – Yellow
- Maqsmáqs (Nez Perce) – Yellow
- X̣éx̣us (Nez Perce) – Green
- Hento (Dakota) – Blue
- Sagonige (Cherokee) – Blue
- Yoosyóos (Nez Perce) – Blue
- Cíicyele (Nez Perce) – Purple
- Gigesdi (Cherokee) – Purple
- Cimúuxcimux (Nez Perce) – Black
- Unega (Cherokee) – White
- X̣ayx̣ạyx! (Nez Perce) – White
Male Native American Dog Names
We’ve already shared a number of wonderful Native American names for dogs. Here are some names for male dogs that don’t fit any specific themes but are still lovely.
- Ahonu (Algonquin) – He who laughs
- Keokuk (Sauk) – Alert and watchful
- Kosumi (Miwok) – Fishes for salmon with a spear
- Ohiyesa (Sioux) – Winner
- Paytah (Sioux) – Fire
- Shilah (Navajo) – Brother
- Tahoma (Puyallup) – Giver of the water
- Wahkan (Sioux) – Sacred
- Wapi (Sioux) – Lucky
- Wicasa (Dakota) – Sage
- Wikvaya (Hopi) – One who brings
Female Native American Dog Names
Here are some beautiful names for female dogs with equally lovely meanings.
- Aiyana (Cherokee) – Forever flowering
- Aleshanee (Coo) – She plays all the time
- Chepi (Algonquin) – Fairy
- Elu (Zuni) – Beautiful
- Galilahi (Cherokee) – Attractive
- Kachina (Hopi) – Spirit
- Nahimana (Sioux) – Mystic
- Nokomis (Chippewa) – Daughter of the moon
- Odina (Algonquin) – Mountain
- Orenda (Iroquois) – Magic power
- Una (Hopi) – Remember
- Wuti (Sioux) – Woman
Names Inspired by Famous Native Americans
The history of Native Americans is, unfortunately, a tragic one that modern Americans cannot be proud of. However, there are a number of Native Americans who are remembered for their bravery in defending their people, as well as for their efforts to find peace with those who invaded their lands.
If you’d like to name your pup after one of these figures, we suggest you research them more deeply in order to truly honor their lives.
- Crazy Horse – Crazy Horse was a Lakota leader of the Ogala band. He fought against white American settlers who encroached upon Native lands and forced the Natives to relocate to reservations.
- Pocahontas/Mataoka – Though Pocahontas’ true history is blurry, she saved the Virginians in Jamestown from starving to death by bringing them provisions. As the relationship between Virginians and Native Americans soured, she was taken captive, taught about Christianity, and eventually married to John Rolfe.
- Powhatan – Also known as Wahunsenacawh, Powhatan was a powerful chief of over 30 Algonquin-speaking tribes located in Virginia in the 1600s. He was also the father of Pocahontas.
- Red Cloud – Red Cloud was an impressive warrior, leading his people to victory in the Fetterman Massacre of December 1866. However, he gave up on war and signed a treaty, attempting to create peace without conflict.
- Sacagawea – Sacagawea became famous for her part in Lewis and Clark’s expedition due to her knowledge of vegetation and geological checkpoints.
- Sitting Bull – Sitting Bull fought alongside Red Cloud; however, he did not agree to a treaty and continued fighting in wars against settlers. Though he had great victories, he was eventually forced to surrender. Because of his fame, he once starred in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.
- Tecumseh – Tecumseh was well-known and respected for his resistance toward settlers. He made considerable headway in creating alliances between tribes that had once been at odds.
Describing Your Dog With a Native American Name
Native American naming traditions are very different from that of westerners. For Native Americans, names are fluid and can change as a person does, whereas westerners rarely change their first names and only change their last names when they get married.
Even then, the change of last name traditionally applies to females only (though in an effort to move away from patriarchalism, some couples create new last names or combine their last names upon marrying).
Personally, we love this Native American tradition. After all, who doesn’t grow and change as they age? It takes time for a baby to grow up and show us its personality, and the same is true of puppies. Unfortunately, it’s not realistic to change a dog’s name even if its name no longer suits the dog’s personality after it grows up.
Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a lovely Native American name for your dog. If you’d like to stay true to Native American traditions, you can try to choose a name that will likely describe your dog for its whole life. Our favorites are Nikan, meaning “my friend,” and Nuttah, meaning “my heart.” For your dog will always be your best friend and live in your heart until the day you pass from this world.