I was looking into this myself, and Wikipedia brings up this quote by Ben Sharpsteen:

We thought the name [Rover] was too common, so we had to look for something else. ... We changed it to Pluto the Pup ... but I don't honestly remember why."

And cites: Brasch, Walter M. (1983). Cartoon Monikers: An Insight into the Animation Industry. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green University Popular Press. p. 69. ISBN 0-87972-244-4.

The article goes on to say:

Some Disney animators reportedly believed that Walt Disney chose the name to capitalize on the sensation of the newly named planet.

And cites: Boyle, Alan. The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2009. p. 49.

It's there any more information on the history of Pluto's name? Which animators suspected Walt Disney was capitalising on the planet? Was the planet a big enough deal at the time for that to make sense?

Was he even directly involved in the naming? Pluto appears in The Chain Gang (1930) which was produced by Disney but involved many more people. I don't know how much Disney got involved in naming etc at that stage of his career.


1 Answer 1


The full quotation from Alan Boyle's book is as such:

"Initially the bloodhound character was Minnie Mouse's pet, called Rover...

"The pup popped up again the following May in another animated short, The Moose Hunt, with a new owner (Mickey Mouse) and a new name.

"A Disney news release, framed as a quotation from Mickey, made it sound as if Walt Disney picked the name Pluto out of thin air: 'Names like Rover and Pal were dreamed up but none seemed to fit. One day Walt came in and said, How about Pluto the Pup? - and Pluto it's been ever since.'

"But the timing of Pluto's renaming led to the suspicion - even among Disney historians - that the great animator decided to capitalize on the astronomical sensation of the day."

No one seems to know the precise reason, and several sources on the origin of Pluto the Dog's name are equally bereft of specific information pinpointing exactly why or how Mickey's pup got the name. However, given that the planet was named Pluto in May of 1930, and his first appearance as Pluto (formerly Rover) was May of 1931, it seems highly likely that he was named after the planet.

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    That seems to settle it, One day Walt came in and said, How about Pluto the Pup? Can't get clearer than that. Apr 1, 2022 at 15:54

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