Vol. 55 No. 4 (2007)
Research Article

Birds are not More Human than Dogs: Evidence From Naming

Published 2007-12-01



This study tested Levi-Strauss's hypothesis that birds are more likely to be given human names than are dogs or other pets. The hypothesis was not supported. Instead, dogs (and cats) are much more likely to be given human names. The results were interpreted in terms of the relationships people feel with different kinds of pets. Pets housed outside the home are least likely to be given human names. Inside the house, pets kept in cages are less likely to be given human names than are pets allowed to roam freely within the home.


  1. Albert, A. and K. Bulcroft. 1987. “Pets and Urban Life.” Anthrozoos 1: 9–23.
  2. AAHA. 2006. “Our Relationship with Pets.” American Hospital Association. www.swaebr.org/Our_Relationship_withPets.html.
  3. APPMA (American Pet Products Manufacturers Association). 2005. NationalPetownersSurvey. www.inforplease.com/ipa/A093172.html. Retrieved 10 May, 2007.
  4. APPMA. 2007.IndustryTrends.www.appma.org/press_industrytrends.asp.
  5. AVMA. 2002. U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook. Schaumberg, IL: American Veterinary Medical Association.
  6. Barber, T. A. “Evidence that Birds are Aware, Intelligent, and Astonishingly like Humans: Implications and Future Research Directions.” Humane Innovations and Alternatives 8: 672–76.
  7. Beck, A. M. and A. H. Katcher. 1983. Between Pets and People: The Importance of Animal Companionship. New York: Putnam.
  8. Carroll, Michael P. 1980. “What’s in a Name?” American Ethnologist 4: 182–84.
  9. Gardner, Howard. 1972. The Quest for Mind. New York: Random House. Kidd, Aline H. and Robert M. Kidd. 1998. “Problems and Benefits of Bird Ownership.” Psychological Reports 83: 131–38.
  10. Leach, Edmund. 1973. Claude Lévi-Strauss. New York: Viking.
  11. Le Men, Segolene. 1992. “Mother Goose Illustrated: From Perrault to Dore.” Poetics Today 13: 17–39.
  12. Levi-Strauss, Claude. 1966. The Savage Mind. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago P.
  13. Skutch, A. F. 1996. The Minds of Birds. College Station, TX: Texas A & M Univ. P.
  14. Slovenko, R. 1983. “The Human/Companion Animal Bond and the Anthropomorphizing and Naming of Pets.” Medicine and Law 2: 277–83.
  15. Social Security Administration. 2007. Popular Names By Decade. www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/decades/names2000s.html.