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(Updated 17/4/01)

What's in a name?

JUST as children's names come and go in terms of popularity, so too do pets' names. In fact, fashionable children's names and those of TV characters figure prominently in the choice of names given to pets, according to a Gloucestershire veterinary centre.

A survey of several thousand pets was carried out by the Honeybourne Veterinary Centre in Cheltenham to find out the top 20 names for male and female dogs.

This year, Ben has moved into the number one position for dogs, forcing last year's top name, Max, into a less fashionable fifth place. The top female name, Molly, has risen a staggering 14 places from last year's position, whilst Penny and Megan have found their way into the chart for the first time.

Other unusual names appearing for the first time include Chandler and Phoebe, made popular by the TV series 'Friends', along with names such as Levi, Tyler and Shadow.

It will be interesting to see if the release of the first Harry Potter film later this year will see an influx of magical names from the story. Already, young fans of J K Rowling's famous series of books have begun to name their pets after characters from the stories, such as Dumbledore, Hermione and Snape, but not yet in significant enough numbers to influence name surveys.

The Top Ten Male Dog Names

1 Ben

2 Jack

3 Sam

4 Murphy

5 Max

6 Jasper

7 Jake

8 Toby

9 Duke

10 Barney

The Top Ten Female Dog Names

1 Molly

2 Millie

3 Penny

4 Megan

5 Holly

6 Jess

7 Meg

8 Phoebe

9 Tess

10 Lara