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400+ Awesome African Dog Names

Names By Kelsey Leicht 23 min read October 10, 2023

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African-inspired dog names

Whether you’re looking to honor your hound’s heritage as the owner of an African dog breed or seeking something with a savanna spring to it, African dog names are loaded with pup-pleasing possibilities.

From the well-known to the rare, these African dog names give your mutt a memorable moniker that’s as special as he is. 

Let’s go on a namespiration journey and check out some amazing African dog names together below. 

Key note

We’re using “African dog names” in a broad sense in this post, but it’s important to note that Africa is an entire continent with dozens of countries and thousands of languages spoken within its borders.

Many of the names listed below share complex origins between neighboring countries and people, but where possible, we’ve tried to point out their origin (such as Swahili, Xhosa, etc.).

Most Popular African Dog Names

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African dog names have strong meanings and a rich history that help them stand apart from the pack. Check out these popular names from the African continent that you might hear at the dog park.

  • Agu: Male name from West Africa meaning “Leopard”
  • Akanji: Name of Yoruba origin that means “One whose touch gives life”
  • Akua: Name from West Africa meaning “Born on Wednesday”
  • Alora: Bantu name meaning “My dream”
  • Anathi: Xhosa origin name meaning “With us”
  • Atum: Egyptian name meaning “Completion”
  • Ayo: Name of Swahili origin meaning “Joy”
  • Ayzize: Name from Southern Africa meaning “Let it come”
  • Badru: Male name of Swahili origin meaning “Born on a full moon”
  • Chetachi: Name of Igbo origin meaning “Remember God”
  • Chidi: Name from West Africa meaning “God’s existence”
  • Dalitso: Malawian origin name meaning “Blessing”
  • Djimon: Male name of Yoruba origin meaning “Powerful blood”
  • Itai: Name from Southern Africa meaning “To do”
  • Jamba: Name of Swahili origin meaning “Celebrate”
  • Ndidi: Name of Igbo origin meaning “Patience”
  • Obi: Igbo origin name meaning “Heart”
  • Ptah: Egyptian name meaning “Creator”
  • Seti: Egyptian form of Seth meaning “Appointed”
  • Shani: “Marvel” of a name from Swahili origin
  • Ssanyu: Name from Ghana meaning “Joy”
  • Tambo: Name of Swahili origin meaning “Vigorous”
  • Temi: Unisex name of Yoruba origin meaning “Mine”
  • Thandiwe: Name of Xhosa origin meaning “Beloved”
  • Tiombe: Feminine name from West Africa that means “Shy”
  • Upendo: Swahili origin name meaning “Love”
  • Uuka: Xhosa origin name meaning “Rise up”
  • Xola: Name of Xhosa origin meaning “Stay in peace”
  • Xolani: Zulu and Xhosa origin name meaning “Please forgive/Peace”
  • Yaro: Name hailing from West Africa meaning “Son”
  • Yohance: Name from West Africa meaning “God’s gift”
  • Zawadi: Swahili origin name meaning “Gift”
  • Zikomo: Name of Ngoni origin meaning “Thank you”
  • Zuri: “Beautiful” name of Swahili origin

Male African Dog Names

Dog names with African roots

If your handsome four-footer needs a name as mighty and masculine as he is, look no further than these epic male monikers:

  • Adjo: “Righteous”
  • Admassu: “Horizon”
  • Ajamu: “He who fights for what he wants”
  • Ajani: “He who wins the struggle”
  • Aka-chi: “Hand of God”
  • Amadi: “Good man”
  • Asante: “Thank you”
  • Ayele: “Powerful”
  • Azibo: “Earth”
  • Bahari: “Sea”
  • Barke: “Blessings”
  • Braima: “Father of nations”
  • Chijioke: Name of Igbo origin meaning “God gives gifts”
  • Chikezie: “Well-made”
  • Chinelo: “Thought of God”
  • Dakari: “Happiness”
  • Davu: “The beginning”
  • Deka:“Pleasing”
  • Dembe: “Peace”
  • Duka: “All”
  • Dumi: “Inspirer”
  • Edem: “Delivered”
  • Ejike: Igbo name meaning “He who has strength”
  • Ikenna: Name of Igbo origin meaning “Power of the father”
  • Ilori: “Special treasure”
  • Iniko: “Born in troubled times”
  • Issay: “Hairy”
  • Jabari: “The brave one” 
  • Jafaru: “Stream”
  • Jengo: “Building”
  • Juma: Name of Swahili origin meaning “Friday”
  • Kato: “Second of twins”
  • Kiano: “Tools of the wizard”
  • Kijani: “Warrior”
  • Kofi: “Born on a Friday”
  • Kwame: “Born on a Saturday”
  • Kwasi: “Born on Sunday”
  • Lencho: “Lion” 
  • Mahalo: “Surprise”
  • Nalo: “Lovable”
  • Nuru: “Light”
  • Oba: “King”
  • Okoro: Igbo origin name meaning “Boy”
  • Oringo: “He who likes the hunt”
  • Pharaoh: Title for ancient Egyptian rulers
  • Roho: “Soul”
  • Sanyu: “Joy”
  • Sarki: Name of Hausa origin meaning “Chief”
  • Segun: Yoruba origin name meaning “Conquer”
  • Thimba: “Lion hunter”
  • Tirfe: “Spared”
  • Tumo: “Fame”
  • Tunde: Name of Yoruba origin meaning “Return”
  • Tut: Short for Tutankhamun, as in the pharaoh
  • Uba: “Father”
  • Uhuru: Swahili origin name meaning “Freedom”
  • Urowo: “Tall”
  • Uzo: “Good road”
  • Wasaki: “Enemy”
  • Zesiro: “Firstborn twin”
  • Zoob: “Strong”

Female African Dog Names

Pharaoh hounds hail from Africa

For those seeking female names with feminine flair, check out these African princesses:

  • Abeni: “We prayed and we received”
  • Abiba: “The beloved one”
  • Adjoa: “Born on Monday”
  • Adola: “The crown brings honor”
  • Afi: “Born on Friday”
  • Akia: “First born”
  • Amaka: “Precious”
  • Amani: “Peace”
  • Amondi: “Born at dawn”
  • Anana: “Fourth born”
  • Asabi: “One of select birth”
  • Ayanna: “Beautiful flower”
  • Badu: “Tenth born”
  • Banji: “Second born of twins”
  • Chausiku: Swahili origin name meaning “Born at night”
  • Cheta: “Remember”
  • Chikondi: Name from South African meaning “Love”
  • Chima: Name of Igbo origin meaning “God knows”
  • Chipo: “Gift”
  • Cleopatra: Ancient Egyptian queen
  • Delu: Name of Hausa origin meaning “The only girl”
  • Dembe: “Peace”
  • Ekene: Igbo origin name meaning “Gratitude”
  • Ellema: “Milking a cow”
  • Eshe: Name from West Africa meaning “Life”
  • Faizah: “Victorious”
  • Falala: “Born into abundance”
  • Fanaka: Name of Swahili origin meaning “Prosperous”
  • Fayola: “Good fortune”
  • Femi: “Love me”
  • Fola: “Honor”
  • Folami: Name of Yoruba origin meaning “Respect me”
  • Gimbya: “Princess”
  • Gzifa: From Ghana, meaning “Peaceful one”
  • Haracha: “Frog”
  • Hazina: “Good”
  • Hidi: “Root”
  • Hiwot: Name from East Africa meaning “Life”
  • Ifama: “All is well”
  • Isoke: “Gift from God”
  • Isondo: Name of Nguni origin meaning “Wheel”
  • Iyabo: Yoruba origin name meaning “Mother has returned”
  • Izefia: “Childless”
  • Jahzara: “Princess”
  • Jamala: “Friendly”
  • Jendayi: “Thankful”
  • Jira: “Related by blood”
  • Johari: “Jewel”
  • Juji: “Heap of love”
  • Jumoke: Name of Yoruba origin meaning “Loved by all”
  • Kabibe: “Little lady”
  • Kande: “Firstborn daughter”
  • Kanoni: “Little bird”
  • Karasi: “Life and wisdom”
  • Kemi: Name of Yoruba origin meaning “God takes care of me”
  • Keshia: “Favorite”
  • Kianda: “Mermaid”
  • Kianga: “Sunshine”
  • Kijana: “Youth”
  • Kimani: “Adventurer”
  • Kioni: “She sees things”
  • Kissa: “First daughter”
  • Kumani: Name from West Africa meaning “Destiny”
  • Lewa: “Beautiful”
  • Liseli: “Light”
  • Loma: “Peaceful”
  • Maisha: “Life”
  • Mandisa: “Sweet”
  • Mansa: “Conqueror”
  • Marjani: “Coral”
  • Mashaka: “Trouble”
  • Miyanda: A Zambian surname
  • Mizan: “Balance”
  • Monifa: Name of Yoruba origin meaning “I am lucky
  • Mwayi: Malawian origin name meaning “Opportunity”
  • Nacala: “Peace”
  • Nafuna: “Delivered feet-first”
  • Nathifa: “Pure”
  • Neema: “Born into prosperity”
  • Netsenet: “Freedom”
  • Nia: “Lustrous”
  • Nkechi: “God’s gift”
  • Nnenia: “Looks like grandmother”
  • Noxolo: “Peaceful”
  • Nsomi: “Well-behaved”
  • Nyeri: “Unknown”
  • Nzeru: Name of Malawian origin meaning “Wisdom”
  • Oya: A goddess in Yoruba mythology
  • Rahma: “Compassion”
  • Rehema: Swahili origin name meaning “Mercy”
  • Sade: “Honor confers a crown”
  • Safia: “Friend” name of Swahili origin
  • Sika: “Money”
  • Subira: Swahili origin moniker meaning “Patience”
  • Taraji: “Hope
  • Themba: “Trust, hope, and faith”
  • Tiaret: “Lionness”
  • Umi: “Servant”
  • Winta: “Desire”
  • Yassah: “Dance”
  • Yihana: “Congratulations”
  • Zendaya: “Give thanks”
  • Ziraili: “Help of God”
  • Zufan: “Throne”
  • Zula: “Brilliant”

Unisex African Dog Names

Fluffy dog names

Some of our favorite African dog names are gender-neutral. See which of these cool picks might suit your sniffer.

  • Abibola: Name of Yoruba origin meaning “Born wealthy”
  • Akande: “First born”
  • Bahati: Swahili origin name meaning “Good fortune”
  • Bem: “Peace”
  • Dayo: Name from West Africa meaning “Joy arrives”
  • Desta: “Joy”
  • Farai: Name of Bantu origin meaning “Rejoice”
  • Foluke: “In God’s hands”
  • Ife: Name of Yoruba origin meaning “Love”
  • Itoro: Name from West Africa meaning “Praise”
  • Kei: “Sandy”
  • Kendi: “The loved one”
  • Kiho: “Fog”
  • Kirabo: “Gift of God”
  • Kitoko: “Beautiful”
  • Loba: “To talk”
  • Makula: “Pearl”
  • Mhina: “Delightful”
  • Milandu: “A case to answer”
  • Mosi: “First born” name of Swahili origin
  • Mukundi: “Victor”
  • Mwenje: “Brilliant light”
  • Olabisi: Name of Yoruba origin meaning “Increased honor”
  • Oni: Yoruba origin name meaning “Today”
  • Rufaro: “Happiness”
  • Satima: “Young bull”
  • Shuvai: “Wish”
  • Taiwo: “Taste of the world” name from Yoruba origin
  • Tatu: Swahili origin name meaning “Third child”
  • Thoko: Name meaning “Thank” of Malawian origin
  • Tumaini: Meaning “Wish,” of Swahili origin
  • Tuyeni: “Let go”
  • Zuva: “Day”

African Countries for Namespiration

Place names for dogs

Why not name your pooch after one of Africa’s many stunning countries? One of these amazing nation names might fit your canine.

  • Algeria: A country in North Africa
  • Cameroon: A country in west-central Africa
  • Chad: A landlocked nation that straddles North Africa and Central Africa
  • Congo: A country in Central Africa
  • Egypt: The country linking Africa with the Middle East, located in North Africa
  • Gabon: A country in Central Africa
  • Ghana: A country in West Africa
  • Kenya: A country in East Africa
  • Libya: A country in North Africa
  • Malawi: A country in southeastern Africa 
  • Mali: A country in West Africa
  • Morocco: A country in North Africa
  • Mozambique: A county in East Africa
  • Tanzania: A country in East Africa
  • Togo: A country in West Africa
  • Tunisia: A small country in North Africa between Algeria and Libya
  • Zaire: Former name of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Zambia: A country in southern Africa

City-Inspired African Dog Names

Names for dogs from Africa

Naming your four-footer after an African city is a clever way to show your love of the land. They’re also relatively rare at the dog park, making them a unique name lover’s dream!

  • Aba: A city in Nigeria
  • Accra: Capital of Ghana on the Atlantic coast of West Africa
  • Benoni: A town located in South Africa
  • Cairo: The capital of Egypt and one of the largest cities in Africa
  • Dakar: The West African capital of Senegal
  • Durban: A coastal city in South Africa
  • Fez: A city in Morocco
  • Giza: Home to Egypt’s famous pyramids
  • Jos: A city in Nigeria
  • “Jozi”: A nickname you could give your dog based on the city of Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city
  • Kananga: A city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Kano: A city in Nigeria
  • Lagos: The largest city in Nigeria
  • Luanda: The capital of Angola
  • Lusaka: The capital of Zambia
  • Luxor: A city on the bank of the Nile River in southern Egypt
  • Matola: A city in Mozambique
  • Mogadishu: The capital city of Somalia
  • Marrakesh: A city in western Morocco
  • Nairobi: The capital city of Kenya
  • Pretoria: A city in South Africa
  • Soweto: A Johannesburg township in South Africa, bordering the city’s mining belt
  • Thebes: An ancient Egyptian city located along the Nile
  • Timbuktu: A city in Mali, Africa
  • Tripoli: The capital city of Libya
  • Warri: A Nigerian city

Landscape-Inspired African Dog Names

Nature names for dogs

Turn to these names to conjure up images of the African continent’s beauty, from the grassy plains to the churning seas off of South Africa’s famous cape.

  • Atlas: As in the Atlas Mountains found in North Africa
  • Chari: A long river in Central Africa
  • Diani: A popular Kenyan beach
  • Kariba: The world’s largest man-made lake, found between Zambia and Zimbabwe
  • Karisimbi: As in Mount Karisimbi, the Rwandan stratovolcano
  • Karoo: A semi-desert natural region of South Africa
  • Kivu: Lake Kivu is one of Africa’s great lakes
  • Lindi: A Tanzanian bay in the Indian Ocean
  • Meru: As in Mount Meru, the stratovolcano located in Tanzania
  • Nile: A famous north-flowing river in Africa
  • Sahara: The Sahara Desert is a massive African desert
  • Savana: A type of African ecosystem
  • Shebelle: An Ethiopian river
  • Sphinx: Famous Egyptian monument
  • Victoria: As in Victoria Falls, the world-famous waterfall
  • Volta: A major river in Western Africa
  • Zambezi: The fourth-longest river in Africa, home of Victoria Falls

National Park-Themed African Dog Names

Natural names for dogs

The African continent is home to dozens of awe-inspiring national parks, housing wildlife you can’t see anywhere else on earth. Check out these African dog names inspired by natural beauty.

  • Abuko: Abuko Nature Reserve is popular destination in Gambia
  • Addo: Addo Elephant National Park is found in South Africa
  • Akanda: Akanda National Park is a coastal reserve located in Gabon
  • Arusha: Arusha National Park sits in Tanzania
  • Bia: Bia National Park can be found in Ghana
  • Boma: Boma National Park is in South Sudan
  • Bwindi: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to great ape species like the mountain gorilla
  • Dorob: Dorob National Park covers a swath of Namibian desert
  • Koba: As in the Niokolo-Koba National Park, alongside the Gambia river
  • Kruger: Kruger National Park is one of the world’s biggest safari destinations
  • Maiko: Maiko National Park is a popular safari park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Matobo: Matobo National Park is home to picturesque grasslands
  • Mikumi: As in Mikumi National Park 
  • Safari: A type of African tour where visitors can explore national parks and seek out wildlife
  • Serengeti: As in Serengeti National Park, a safari favorite
  • Taza: Taza National Park can be found in Algeria

Nature-Themed African Dog Names

The African continent is home to some of the world’s most beautiful living things, including many that make memorable names, like: 

  • Acacia: A tree that’s a landscape staple across the savanna
  • Aye-aye: A big-eyed lemur with a curious appearance
  • Baobab: A massive tree with a playful-sounding name
  • Bongo: An antlered mammal whose stripes turn heads
  • Bonobo: A species of great ape
  • Buffalo: The Cape buffalo is a huge hoofed bovine
  • Cheetah: A super name for a speed racer canine
  • Civet: A small, spotted animal with short legs and a long body
  • Croc: As in crocodile, this fits a chomp-happy puppy
  • Gorilla: A great ape of massive size and strength
  • Hippo: An ideal pick for a low-rider, like a basset hound or dachshund
  • Honey Badger: A dream moniker for a scrappy doggo
  • Hyena: A spotted carnivore with a ravenous appetite
  • Impala: This elegant antelope doubles as a car name
  • Jackal: For a twist on Jack, use this canid name
  • Kudu: A majestic mammal with a set of antlers like no other
  • Mamba: A few species of fast-moving snakes
  • Marula: A fruit-bearing tree
  • Molala: A large palm tree
  • Nyala: A spiral-horned antelope whose name is singsong in nature
  • Okapi: Also known as the forest giraffe, this odd-looking animal is the perfect namesake for a mystery mutt
  • Oryx: The genus of gemsbok antelope
  • Rhino: Suitable for a bulldog or other wrecking ball breed
  • Topi: Known for its beautiful red coat, this antelope’s name is playful
  • Wildebeest: The hodgepodge antelope species with a scraggly mane, stripes, and horns
  • Zebra: An alternative to Oreo, it’s well-suited for a black and white doggo

African Dog Names from Fictional Famous Figures 

Dog and Pumba
Image from FamilyPet.com.

Whether you own a Rhodesian ridgeback or a African street dog, these big-screen African names could work great for any dog:

  • Akeem: The crown princess in Coming to America.
  • Banzai: A hyena in The Lion King.
  • Beni: Bumbling villain from The Mummy.
  • Jaffe: The king in Coming to America.
  • Khumba: The half-striped zebra in Khumba.
  • Maurice: The wise aye-aye from Madagascar.
  • Mort: The adorable mouse lemur from Madagascar.
  • Moto Moto: The hippo from Madagascar.
  • Nakia: T’Challa’s love interest in Black Panther.
  • Nakku: The loving mother in Queen of Katwe.
  • Nala: Simba’s girlfriend in The Lion King.
  • Okoye: The female leader of the armed forces in Black Panther.
  • Pumba: The portly warthog and jokester in The Lion King.
  • Rafiki: The whacky but wise baboon in The Lion King.
  • Rick: Hero from The Mummy
  • Sam: The lead from Machine Gun Preacher.
  • Sarabi: Simba’s mother in The Lion King.
  • Seko: A zebra leader in Khumba.
  • Shenzi: Wise-cracking hyena in The Lion King
  • Shuri: T’Challa’s sister in Black Panther.
  • Simba: The curious cub and future king in The Lion King.
  • T’Challa: The leader character in Black Panther.
  • Timon: The lively meerkat and Pumba’s sidekick in The Lion King.
  • Tsotsi: Title character from Tsotsi.
  • W’Kabi: T’Challa’s best friend in Black Panther.
  • Zazu: The nosy but well-meaning bird in The Lion King.

If you love Disney movies like The Lion King, make sure to check out our article on the best Disney dog names!

Strong African Names for Dogs

Strong names for dogs

Looking for a strong African name for your tough pooch? Some potential ideas include:

  • Abrafo: A Ghanaian name meaning “warrior”
  • Ade: Nigerian word meaning “royal”
  • Addae: Ghanian word for the morning sun
  • Adofo: Ghanian word for warrior
  • Arno: Afrikaans with Germanic roots, meaning “eagle”
  • Bassel: A North African word meaning “brave”
  • Hakim: An African word meaning “ruler”
  • Izem: A Tamazight name with the mighty meaning “lion”
  • Limbani: A name from Southern Africa meaning “be strong”
  • Mandla: Means “strength” in Zulu
  • Moti: Name from East African meaning “leader”
  • Mwenye: Means “owner” or “boss” in Swahili
  • Netsai: A Shona name meaning “trouble”
  • Tafari: Meaning “he who inspires awe” and the name of an Ethiopian king
  • Tau: A South African word for lion
  • Zuberi: Name of Swahili origin meaning “strong”

Dog Names Inspired By African Cuisine

Food names for dogs

Food names are common among pooches, and African cuisine offers up some adorable name options with African roots, including:

  • Amala: A yam dish
  • Asida: A doughy dish from North Africa
  • Baba Ghanoush: An eggplant dish
  • Bazeen: A lamb dish from North Africa
  • Biltong: A meat jerky from South Africa
  • Brik: A fried pastry from North Africa
  • Caakiri: A sweetened grain pudding from North Africa
  • Calulu: A fish and vegetable stew
  • Chachupa: A stew from West Africa
  • Chambo: A favorite fish for grilling
  • Couscous: Type of grain
  • Dabo: Dabo kolo is a bread snack from North Africa
  • Duqqa: A type of nutty dip
  • Eba: A Nigerian dish made of cassava flour
  • Egusi: A Nigerian soup
  • Fufu: A soup from West Africa
  • Harira: A popular soup in North Africa
  • Hawawshi: A popular Egyptian street food
  • Hertzoggie: A cookie from South Africa
  • Injera: Type of flatbread
  • Isamaza: A popular liqueur in East Africa
  • Kapana: A grilled meat dish
  • Kenkey: A maize dish from West Africa
  • Kisra: Sudanese bread
  • Kitcha: An Ethiopian flatbread
  • Kitfo: A minced meat dish
  • Koki: A wheat flour roti
  • Maafe: A peanut stew from West Africa
  • Mitmita: A powerful spice mix from Ethiopia
  • Mutura: A blood sausage popular in Kenya and Central Africa
  • Sambusa: A fried treat from East Africa
  • Seffa: A Moroccan meal of sweetened grain
  • Shiro: A stew from East Africa
  • Suya: Type of meat skewer dish
  • Tahini: A popular condiment
  • Tajine: A dish from North Africa
  • Ugali: A cornmeal dish

Descriptive African Dog Names

Rhodesian ridgebacks are African dogs

Some names have a meaning that perfectly describes your doggo, such as:

  • Anuli: A happy pup would fit this Igbo name, meaning “joy.”
  • Barack: Meaning “lightning,” he works well on your speed demon doggo.
  • Bontu: A canine that carries itself well may suit this Oromo name that means “proud.”
  • Chiku: For a mouthy mutt, check out this “talkative” name.
  • Dada: Meaning “curly haired,” this name is a natural fit on a poodle or Bichon.
  • Fadzai: Perfect for a joyous doggo, this Shona name means “rejoice.”
  • Ifa: This Oromo name’s meaning matches the “light” of your life — your dog!
  • Kairu: Ideal for a Schipperke or Newfoundland, this name means “black one.”
  • Kamau: If your four-footer is sneaky, check out his “quiet warrior” meaning.
  • Kazi: Translating to “work,” this is the perfect name for your busy four-footer.
  • Lerato: This Sotho name’s “love” meaning works well on a cuddlebug canine.
  • Mandla: Meaning “strength,” this name is great for a tough pupper.
  • Sadiki: Meaning “loyal,” this name of Swahili origin perfectly suits a people-pleasing canine. Also make sure to check out our collection of dog names that mean “loyal” if you like this one!
  • Safiya: Meaning “friend,” this name works well for your best fur buddy. Love this name? See our list of dog names that mean “friend.”
  • Sahel: This name, meaning “leader,” is perfect for pups who rule the pack.
  • Sekou: A brainiac barker will be perfect for this name meaning “wise.”
  • Teshi: If your pooch’s tail is always going a mile a minute, you’ll love this name meaning “cheerful.” 
  • Zareb: This name, meaning “guardian,” is perfect for dogs who guard against bushy-tailed yard invaders. If you like this name also check out our collection of dog names that mean “protector.”
  • Zuberi: Your muscled mastiff perfectly fits this name, meaning “strong.”  
  • Zuna: Meaning “to be sweet,” this is the perfect name for a snugglebug of a doggo.

How to Pick Your Dog’s Name

boerboel

Trying to narrow down your doggo name list? Worried you won’t find the right fit? Stuck between two picks? We’ve got you covered with easy-to-follow tips for picking your dog’s name!

When browsing potential pupper names:

  • Follow your heart. Your interests can inspire a dog name you truly love. If you enjoy cooking African cuisine, a name like Amali or Koki may have a special place in your heart. Similarly, Kenya or Bwindi may resonate if you love to travel the continent.
  • Skip offensive picks. While this should be obvious, it still needs to be said: If a name has the potential to hurt or offend someone, don’t use it. Your dog’s name should be rooted in positivity, not hate or malice.
  • Avoid negative connotations. Killer or Monster sound badass, sure, but they also conjure up images of an aggressive doggo that groomers and veterinary staff may unjustly fear when you actually have a sweet and cuddly critter. Don’t set your sniffer up for adverse reactions. Aim for upbeat.
  • Go with what you love. You’ll use your mutt’s name for years, even if it evolves into funny nicknames over time. Make sure you go with a moniker you truly enjoy.
  • Use caution with long names. Dog names with lots of syllables can leave you stumbling when issuing commands or calling your canine over. Opting for a one-syllable dog name (two-syllable, too!) or one that can be shortened is usually best.
  • Try a name out. The only real way to know if a name fits your floof is to test it. Practice using the name in conversation or calling your pup over with it. Another trick is to imagine making a vet or grooming appointment with the moniker. Is it something you’ll have to spell out or repeat constantly? Does it leave you tongue-tied?

African Dog Breeds

The African continent has produced an array of dog breeds, from speedy sighthounds to lumbering mastiffs. Let’s meet some of these cool canines together.

Azawakh

Azawakh dog running

This svelte sighthound is from West Africa, where he started thousands of years ago as a hunting dog. Today, you can find him working his magic in lure coursing.

He should never be trusted off-leash, as he’ll sprint after any passing squirrel. Training him can be a challenge since he has the infamous sighthound independence. His shining feature (in addition to his athleticism) is his affectionate nature.

Top picks for Azawakh dog names: Axel, Electra, Falcon, Hera, Sonic, Tess, Torpedo

Basenji

Basenji dog names

This “barkless” breed is from Central Africa, where he got his start as a hunting dog. The basenji is among the most ancient dog breeds, though he remains one of the most primitive.

He’s relatively small at 24 pounds, but he can get into insane mischief if bored, making messes that would leave a much-larger husky impressed. He’s hardly barkless, either, eliciting sounds from yips to screams to yodeling.

That said, he’s a fabulous contender for canine sports, with lure coursing offering the perfect outlet for his high energy. He’s also famously catlike, keeping himself clean and disliking water.

Top picks for basenji dog names: Aurora, Bastian, Breezy, Congo, Fancy, Jude, Piccolo

Boerboel

Boerboel mastiff names

Meaning “farm dog” in Dutch, the mighty boerboel hails from South Africa, where he still serves as a trusted farmhand. He was bred to protect the homestead, where his size and deep, rumbling bark are usually enough to keep trespassers away. This African breed can clock in at 200 pounds, though he isn’t as tall as you’d think, coming in at 27 inches at the shoulder.

Boerboels are gentle giants with those they trust, but the breed requires extensive socialization and early obedience to ensure he’s well-adjusted before he’s too large to handle.

Top picks for Boerboel dog names: Arlo, Bess, Hercules, Scarlett, Tank, Xena, Zeus

Coton de Tulear

Fluffiest dog breeds

Known as “the Royal Dog of Madagascar,” this cute and cuddly canine comes from the island nation located off the coast of East Africa. He was bred as a companion and remains a treasured lap dog worldwide.

His clownish antics make him quite the entertainer, while his sweet disposition and somewhat sturdy frame make him a good choice for families with kids. However, his coat can be a dealbreaker for many, as the long, lush mane requires near-daily brushing to prevent tangles. A sanitary trim is also recommended to prevent any backdoor messes.

Top picks for coton de Tulear dog names: Bunny, Cloud, Ellie, Fuzz, Happy, Jester, Snowbell

Pharaoh Hound

Sighthound dog breeds

North Africa produced this noble gentleman thousands of years ago. Beloved for his affectionate ways, he makes an excellent dog for families with kids. He’s fabulous with other dogs, too, but isn’t recommended if you have small dogs and cats, as he is a sighthound with a strong prey drive.

Daily exercise is vital for his well-being, with long walks or off-leash runs in enclosed spaces recommended.

Top picks for pharaoh hound dog names: Asim, Auset, Copper, Foxy, Khufu, Sandy, Xerxes

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Hunting breeds

The ridgeback’s roots began in South Africa as a hunting dog. Named for the distinct ridge of hair along his back, the ridgeback soon transitioned to being an all-around farm dog, fulfilling odds and ends tasks for his family. Today, his large, athletic frame makes him a favorite among hikers, as he has impressive stamina on the trail.

Daily exercise is a must for him, as is early and ongoing obedience training to put his mind to work. Socialization is also essential in curbing his tendency toward being aloof with strangers.

Top picks for Rhodesian ridgebacks (and Rhodesian ridgeback mixes): Amity, Archer, Charlize, Hunter, Maxie, Theron, Zinnia

Saluki

Fastest dog breeds

The saluki first appeared in Egypt as a hunting dog and companion thousands of years ago, and it doesn’t get much more sleek and sophisticated than this sighthound.

With feathered ears and a flowing gait, he’s the dog world’s runway model, gliding across dog shows with perfect poise… until he sees a rabbit. For this reason, you should never trust your saluki off-leash. Like other sighthounds, training him can be difficult. He’s astoundingly independent, preferring his way over yours any day of the week.

Top picks for saluki dog names: Bullet, Donatella, Jet, Klum, Magic, Phaedra, Whisper

Sloughi

Breeds best for jogging

The sloughi is a sighthound from North Africa with a gentle spirit. Like several other sighthounds, his breed dates back thousands of years. He’s retained his independent nature, but he’s on the sensitive side, so always use positive reinforcement training methods.

The sloughi is calm around the house, though daily exercise is required to help him live his fullest life. Frequent runs in an enclosed yard is best, though he’d enjoy a leashed jog by your side, too.

Top picks for sloughi dog names: Bastet, Diesel, Hafsah, Iggy, Lark, Zipper, Zola

African Dog Names: FAQ

African dog name questions

Still not sold on a particular African dog name? Have more questions about a specific African name for your dog? We’ve tried to answer a few common questions below!

What is a good name for an African wild dog?

Have an African wild dog? How’d you get him?! Does he make a good pet?

At any rate, we think “Moto” (a Swahili word for “hot), “Kiboko” (Swahili for “hippo”), or “Tamu” (Swahili for “sweet”) would be great options.

Africa is well-known for its considerable wild dog population, with some becoming beloved village dogs who are cared for by the community or adopted out. Also consider using the region or town area where an African wild dog is from for a name idea.

What are African dog names?

There are tons of great African dog name available! You can use a name based off of a location in Africa (like “Kruger”) or a Swahili word, (such as “Ayo” which means “joy”).

What are some Swahili names for dogs?

There are many great Swahili names that would serve as great dog names. Some of our favorite include Safia (meaning “pure”), Tambo (meaning “vigorous”), Zuri (meaning “beautiful”), and Jamba (meaning “hero”).

What African name means warrior?

“Askari” is a Swahili word for “warrior” that would make a great dog name for a strong canine.

   

Does your pooch have an African name? Where did you get the inspiration? Do any of the names above resonate with you?

Let us know in the comments!

Want to check out some more geography-based dog names? We’ve got ya covered!

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Written by

Kelsey Leicht

Kelsey is a lover of words and woofs. She worked hands-on with dogs for several years at a boarding kennel as a shift runner and office manager before venturing into the world of writing. She lives in New Jersey with her crew of crazy canines.

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