Though mostly given to female pooches in the US, the name Sasha has served as a unisex word across Eastern Europe for some time. In dog name popularity, it almost always ranks in the top 100 with German Shepherds being the most common breeds to bear the moniker, and once you understand it’s meaning, you’ll see why.
To truly understand the origin of Sasha, we must first travel back to a time of antiquity in Ancient Greece where we find the earliest instance of the name, Αλεξανδρος. Latinized to Alexandros, this word came from the combination of alexo, meaning to defend, and aner, meaning man. Thus, the defending men earned an official name. It also served as a nickname of the famed Paris of the Trojan War, eight popes, countless kings, poets, explorers and inventors. However, the most famous Alexander remains the King of Macedon, the Great ruler that conquered Egypt, Greece, India and Persia. It was a conquest that earned him so much prestige his name spread like wildfire during his time and continues to spread to this day.
From Russia with Love
While a noted figure in Western history, it was the East that transformed Alexander into the shorter form we know today. Much like we often shorten Alexander to Alex, the Russians and other Eastern Europeans used the back end as a term of endearment, resulting in Xander and the feminine Xandra eventually morphing into Sasha and all of its spellings.
Probably one of the most fascinating aspects of the history of Sasha is its continual run-in with gender assignment. In the Slavic countries of its origin, it is extremely common for both males and females. That being said, it is rarely ever used as a person’s legal name since almost all of Eastern Europe views it as a pet name.
However, when it entered France and other French-speaking territories, it became an almost exclusively male name but only when spelled Sacha. Sasha is rarely every used. By the time it finally gained hold as a popular name in the US in the 1970s, Sasha became almost exclusively feminine in America, arguably because of the “a” at the end.
Currently, Sasha as a dog name is seeing an explosion in popularity, ranking in at #17 in 2014. While there’s really no accurate way to tell when our pooches started carrying this historical title, it can safely be assumed it didn’t happen too long after human babies started sporting it.
Will we ever see it in the top 10?
It’s hard to say. Though it remains an extremely popular choice for bigger dogs like Pit bulls, German Shepherds and Mastiffs, there still remain an overabundance of smaller dogs with far less dramatic titles.