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When it comes to tracking the popularity and distribution of human names over time, Wolfram Alpha seems to be the place to go. But where to find this info for pets?

In 2008, the LA Times put together an interesting project on this topic called "L.A.'s Top Dogs." But the authors note:

There is no centralized list of dog registrations for Los Angeles County. More than a dozen agencies perform the service at the local level. While we made an effort to collect records from as many areas as possible, a few fell through the cracks.

Is there a more complete and up-to-date database for pet names available?

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I've compiled some resources for a blog post, I'll just post the relevant content here:

Hundenamen aus dem Hundebestand der Stadt Zürich

This one is from the city of Zürich, Switzerland, where I live. I've seen a recent Twitter post about this dataset, so that may have planted the idea that dog names can be open data.

Data goes back to 2015, and each year is one CSV file. To get an idea of the dataset size, I choose the complete year of 2019. 7647 records. It may be hard to find trends in so few dog registrations. Additionally, the Paw Patrol trend is slowly making it here to Switzerland. Since it started in North America, I'll go to look there.

Anchorage Dog Names over Time

Only 16k total names between 2017 and 2019. That's not enough dogs when there are so many possible names. And starting in 2017, I may not get a good before snapshot.

Seattle Pet Licenses

A list of active/current Seattle pet licenses, including animal type (species), pet's name, breed and the owner's ZIP code.

This might be a good dataset because records go back to 2000 and are updated through 2019. I can get snapshots before and during the PAW Patrol era. But I counted dogs registered in 2019 and it was 11k. In 2018, 7k. Still not enough.

NYC Dog Licensing Dataset

This could be it. Recently updated. 24.1 MB CSV file. 345k total rows going back more than 10 years. 79k dog registrations in 2019. Explore the data here.

the fine print:

Each record stands as a unique license period for the dog over the course of the yearlong time frame.

What does this mean for my data? It means that dog names are assigned at least once per year. If I count unique dog names over multiple years, I'll be over counting.

and

Each record represents a unique dog license that was active during the year, but not necessarily a unique record per dog, since a license that is renewed during the year results in a separate record of an active license period.

This means that dog-names within a given year may actually be duplicate as well. If this was a real project, in order to fully trust my data, I would first count how many names are repeated. To do this, because there is no column dog ID which would uniquely identify a dog, I would have to create a surrogate key based on the columns such as AnimalBirthMonth, AnimalGender and BreedName, and perhaps also the geographical data Borough and ZipCode.

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You'll have to go agency by agency. Dog licensing is a local government function. Some cities with open data have released license data, here's an example for NYC.

If they don't have it online already, most animal control departments should be able to provide their data with either a phone call or (if necessary) a FOIA request, although it may not necessarily be in electronic form.

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