You know the old stereotype that dogs and their owners often share a likeness? Park yourself on a bench at the local dog park, and you just might see that famous scene from 101 Dalmatians unfold before your eyes — frou-frou poodles with curly-haired fashionistas; slim, energetic greyhounds alongside their athletic owners, and muscular terriers buddied up to tattooed tough guys. Often, it’s shockingly easy to determine which dog belongs to which owner. But why? Is there any truth to this phenomenon or is it all just one big canine coincidence?
In this guide, we’ll answer these questions and more and dive into why there might be some cold, hard data to back up the claim that people tend to pick pets who look like them. Got a furry version of yourself? PawLove is here to help you celebrate them with the very best treats and chews, from nutritious collagen dog treats to great treats for training a puppy who wants to please. Read on for some fun ways to spoil your mini-me.
Let’s get right down to it: Is this stereotype real or imagined? The reality is that there is a growing body of scientific evidence to show that dogs and their people do tend to share some similarities. While more research is needed on the topic, there have been multiple studies affirming what we all suspected — people often look like, act like, and just generally seem a lot like their pets.
In one study, researchers confirmed that this phenomenon is indeed valid because, in clinical studies where participants were asked to match their dog to their owner, accuracy is quite high, with participants guessing correctly as often as 80 percent of the time. Amazing, right? So, the next time you see someone who bears a striking resemblance to their canine companion, know there’s scientific research to back it up. The reason why, though, is complex.
So, now that we know that the dog-owner-look alike phenomenon is indeed based in some reality, it’s time to look at why. In short, there’s no one simple reason why people and pets share similar features and personalities. It’s generally a mix of a few key elements, both things we can control (such as diet, exercise, and the pet accessories we choose) and things we cannot (such as evolved, subconscious preferences). Here are some specific reasons why people often look like their pets.
The clearest reason why many people look like their furry friends is because, plain and simple, people hold aesthetic preferences that are often reflected in their choices. In other words, if a person prefers the long, flowy hair of a golden retriever or cocker spaniel, there’s a good chance they also might have long, flowy hair.
If an individual has striking blue eyes on which they’ve always been complimented, it’s not surprising why they might want a pretty blue-eyed husky or Aussie. Sounds a bit narcissistic, right? Sure, but it’s a bit deeper than that! You’ll understand more about why this is in the next point.
The experts say that people prefer pets that look like themselves due to an evolved trait known as assertive mating, which helps humans find a genetically similar (human) mate while simultaneously helping to rule out inbreeding. To put it simply, humans seek out what’s familiar but not too familiar when selecting a partner — furry or otherwise — because we’ve evolved to do so over millions of years. This may be because familiarity signaled safety in more primitive environments. So, even if you think you’re not choosing your pet based on their physical features, there may be some subconscious preferences at play that you’re not even aware of!
Research shows that an owner’s personality can play a role in their dog’s personality and temperament. In fact, dogs are just like humans, in that they can learn behaviors and even mimic the way the people around them act. That’s why you might find that bubbly, extroverted people tend to have bubbly, extroverted dogs.
On the flipside, introverts and quiet types might have dogs who like to hang out in the background when friends are over. Or, more commonly, they might prefer the self-sufficient nature of cats. While this may not affect how a dog looks, it certainly contributes to the stereotype that dogs are a lot like their owners in other ways.
Responsible dog owners know that it’s crucial to keep high-energy animals well-exercised. And those who have athletic or hyper dogs often take them along when working out, whether it is on a run, a swim, or for a jaunt at the agility course to help boost endurance.
What we’re saying is, it’s not uncommon for a pet’s body type to match their owner’s due to the fact that a fit, healthy owner often brings along their furry friend to work out, whereas less active people are less likely to do the same for their pets. With this in mind, it won’t surprise you to learn that overweight people tend to have overweight dogs, according to some studies.
Of course, the weight issue isn’t just about exercise. Naturally, people who eat healthfully and take vitamins or supplements tend to pass their nutritional standards on to their four-legged friends. They may be more conscious of feeding their pets highly nutritious treats, such as collagen sticks for dogs. They may also be more aware of their own health, which can help them make more informed decisions about their pet’s diet through things like special foods, supplements, and more.
One fascinating study on this topic revealed a compelling reason why many humans look like their furry family members, and it’s all in the eyes. In this study, researchers asked participants to pair images of dogs with images of their owners, and they found that the matches were impressively accurate — up to 80 percent — when no parts of the images were obstructed. However, when the researchers covered the eyes of the dog and owner, participants were only able to identify the owner about half the time. That suggests that we often choose pets who look like us above the snout.
Subconsciously, some pet owners may choose a specific pet because they like what it signals to others around them. For example, someone who aims to appear tough and no-nonsense may prefer a dog who helps emphasize that self-image, such as a German shepherd or a rottweiler.
On the other hand, someone who is all about sports and athleticism may be a fan of more sporty breeds, such as border collies, labradors, or Rhodesian ridgebacks. Dogs are not — nor should they ever be treated as — accessories, of course, but many people recognize that they do add to the impressions of others. Animals are living, breathing beings that should never be treated like objects, but there is no denying that they can help tell a person’s story without saying much at all, just like a piece of clothing.
There’s one last reason why some dogs may look like their person’s twin, and it has to do with accessorizing. Some pet owners consciously dress their dogs to look like miniature versions of themselves, and it’s not hard to see why when you see how adorable it can be.
If you have a preference for a certain pattern or material, it’s only natural that you choose it for your own clothes as well as your dog’s leash, collar, bandana, and apparel. Your dog’s sense of style will undoubtedly match up with your own, and there’s nothing wrong with that!
Got a four-legged mini-me who you want to show love? We’re in the business of helping conscious pet owners shower their dogs with love and attention in the safest, healthiest ways possible, so we can help you spoil your dog no matter if they look like you or not. Here are some fun ideas for how to celebrate your companionship:
Humans, like dogs, are complex creatures with many layers of curiosities. The fact that many dog owners look like their pets is certainly one that causes us to scratch our heads, but, when you dig deeper, you see that there are a few good reasons for the phenomenon. Regardless whether you’ve got a pet who is your identical twin or you don’t think your dog looks anything like you, PawLove is here to help you show them how much you love them with the best treats and chews.