Do owners and their dogs have similar personalities? While on the subject of the evolution of dogs to become neo-humans, the next area to look at is whether these animals take on the personality of their owners. If a dog is to fit in with his owner and the family, he has to develop characteristics that help him blend in. Strangely enough, it is a fact that people tend to choose dogs that look similar to themselves. There have been studies that show that it is possible to predict, through the personality of the human, which dog he/she will choose and be happiest with. For instance, people who choose aggressive breeds will usually have a history of aggression in their families.
However, what is new is a study that compares the similarities of personalities between dog and owner. A recent study by Eötvös University in Budapest, Hungary, and the School of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Vienna, published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, looks at the similarity between the personalities of owners and their dogs using broad dimensions — 389 dog owners and 518 dogs were tested; the owners were asked to fill in a personality questionnaire of five personality traits. They were:
Neuroticism — whether a person is sensitive and nervous vs secure and confident. It is often referred to as a measure of “emotional stability”;
Extraversion — whether the individual is outgoing, sociable and energetic vs solitary and reserved;
Agreeableness — whether a person is friendly and compassionate vs cold and unkind;
Conscientiousness — whether the individual is hard-working, efficient and organized vs easy-going, lazy or careless; and
Openness — whether the person is inventive and curious vs consistent and cautious. However, this dimension is also highly correlated with intelligence and some researchers have gone so far as to relabel it as “intellect”.
Then they were asked to rate the personality of their dogs using a version of the same test that was developed specifically to measure a dog&’s personality by the University of Texas in Austin. The owners rated their dogs as having similar personalities to themselves in all five of the personality traits measured. The strongest association was between the owner&’s degree of neuroticism and that of their dog, followed by extraversion.
Many people like to believe their own attitudes and emotions, even personality are shared by the people they live with or meet. So the test could be simply one in which the owner projects his own traits upon his dog. To obviate this possibility, researchers asked family members to rate the personality of the dog as well and that was then compared to the personality of the owners. In 80 per cent of the five personality characteristics, the family members saw the same traits in the dog as in the owner. Only in the trait of openness did the owners project their own intellectual abilities onto their dogs.
Why do dogs and owners have similar personalities? One possibility is that the owner&’s lifestyle and interactions with the dog change the animal&’s personality. It is easy to imagine how an anxious, neurotic owner could raise the neuroticism level of his/her dog. But in most cases, it is probably because the owner makes a conscious choice to get a dog that reflects his/her own personality. However, this holds true for households that have only one dog. More dogs mean more personalities.
The type of dog breed that you choose can tell a lot about your personality. The following are a few generalisations about what owning a certain breed says about your personality. How similar to your dog breed do you think you are?
Bulldogs are determined, persistent. People who own them are said to be silly, love to laugh but can be stubborn. They are efficient and methodical. While they appear intimidating, bulldogs are gentle romantics.
Terriers are energetic, fun-loving and playful companions. People who own them are said to be flexible and able to focus, feisty, brave, and competitive. They are extremely talkative, with a sense of humour.
Labradors and golden retrievers are active, friendly and good-natured. Owners put their families first and are said to be easy-going, sporty and carefree.
Beagles are inquisitive, loyal and willing to learn new things. Owners of these tend to be open to new experiences, curious, and willful. They make great friends and bring laughter to everyone&’s lives.
Owners of poodles, Chihuahuas and toy breeds are sincere, fun-loving, loyal and love travelling and partying, take pride in their appearance, are very neat and keep very orderly homes. They are intellectually curious, open to new experiences and appreciative of arts and culture.
Boxers are busy dogs that exude high amounts of energy. People that own these are said to live life to the fullest and quickly welcome strangers as new friends.
Cocker Spaniels are sweet, respectful and gentle. Owners of this breed are charming, trustworthy and affectionate, and put spending time with their family first. They maintain a group of close lifelong friends.
English Pointers, Weimaraners, Irish Setters are naturally alert, likable and well-rounded companions. Owners of these breeds are active, courageous, highly intelligent, easily excited and motivated. They can get bored easily if not subjected to new experiences.
Owners of Greyhounds, Whippets and Basenji breeds tend to be more relaxed, calm and introverted. They prefer social outings with small groups, are highly organised, curious, alert, fast and agile and often excel at sports.
German Shepherds are shy around strangers but warm up once they get to know you. Owners of this breed would do anything for their friends and make protective loyal companions.
Dachshunds are stubborn and brave, often acting as if invincible. When owners of this breed want something, they don’t give up until they get it. They love gardening, can be bossy and often dislike not getting their own way.
Rottweilers are determined and intense. People that have Rottweilers are confident, loyal and devoted to their friends and loved ones. They are laid back but quick to react if someone rubs them the wrong way.
People who live with Pugs are cheerful and have a zest for living. Just like Pugs, who will do anything for a good belly rub, their owners enjoy frequent massages and spas.
Doberman Pinschers are very serious, intense and determined. Their owners are leaders versus followers and love to plan and organise and go about achieving their goals in a polite yet firm fashion.
Siberian Huskies are huge sports fans. They can be strong willed but are loveable and welcoming to strangers.
Owners of Great Danes are good-hearted and responsible. They tend to work hard, enjoy staying up on news and current events and welcome the chance to debate important issues with others.
Mixed breed owners are open-minded. They don’t sweat the small stuff and keep their eye on the bigger picture. In their spare time, mutt owners are often seen volunteering with organisations.
Psychologists at Bath University in the UK claim that we go for dogs that are a bit like us, just as we go for a romantic partner who is a bit like us. Psychologists are even able to match purebred dogs with their owners. In collaboration with the Kennel Club, the researchers set up an online questionnaire for 1,000 owners of purebred dogs.
They split the dog breeds into seven Kennel Club categories: gun dogs, such as the Labrador or Golden Retriever; hound dogs, such as the Greyhound; pastoral breeds, including German Shepherds and Collies; terriers, such as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier; toy breeds, including Chihuahuas; utility breeds such as Bulldogs; and working breeds, such as the Doberman.
The results revealed correlations between the type of dog and the owner&’s personality. People who own pastoral or utility breeds are the most extroverted. Owners of gun dogs and toy dogs are most agreeable. The most emotionally stable people tended to own hounds, including Beagles and Afghans. Toy dog owners were also the most open and imaginative.
The kind of dog you choose gives clues to your education and even wealth, according to research by Frontline Spot. Golden Retriever owners are the “most intelligent”, with nearly a quarter of them holding a Master&’s degree or a doctorate and Yorkshire Terrier owners laugh 10 times a day. Pug owners tend to be wealthy and happily married, while bizarrely, enormous Great Danes are owned by those paid an average salary. Yorkshire terrier fans appear to be the happiest, while Labrador owners are most likely to be single.
I am strictly an Indian dog fan; Alert, clever, loyal, friendly, willing to learn and very proud of themselves.