Friday, February 3, 2012

Dog owners do look like their pets, say psychologists.


When you see a sleek woman with long red hair walking her dog – an Irish Setter, you may smile to yourself thinking they kinda look alike. Not that she looks anything like a dog or the dog looks anything like a human. But that you can see each of their personalities reflect back at the other.

Study shows that’s no fluke. Many people, including scientists, have noticed that often dogs look like their owners. The phenomenon has inspired books, contests, and even scientific studies and now it's very own page on Shiba Shindig.

While no, we are not specifically talking about Shiba Inu's and their owners. We are talking about dogs in general. I did however find this group picture and if you ask me they all kind of resemble their Shiba's.

Continuing our research I found that many studies done by asking the public if they could predict which breed of dog a person would own just by looking at a photograph of their owners. They were correct 2/3 of the time. With the 1/3 that was incorrect was usually discovered to have not been pure breed dogs.

Mutts don't seem to apply to this study however due to most owners of mix breeds tend to either get their dog purely by accident or by spur of the moment decisions.

There was this one story I had found while doing my research about how a woman found a puppy on the side of the road. She and her family had no intentions on keeping the puppy due to her son having severe allergies to dogs but after keeping the pup for about a week she realized that the pup was so much like her youngest daughter she felt that their was no way she could possibly give the pup up. And so they ended up keeping the puppy.

I wonder how many of my readers look like their dogs? I am also curious about who would be the owner of this little guy? ----->

While I don't think that is a dog of any kind, I do think that the owner match up is pretty good though. :)



Appearently Gini Graham Scott, Ph.D., was at a dog show where she saw dogs and owners sitting side by side and she was struck by how much they looked alike. She grabbed a camera and started taking photos. She later wrote the book, Do You Look like Your Dog?


Hmm... I don't know if I look like my dog or not but I did think that maybe there was something more to all of this and that it was interesting enough to spend an entire week reading up on it and this is what I found.

Dr. Lance Workman
Dr Lance Workman, from Bath Spa University said: "There is a little bit of truth in the theory that owners look like their dogs.

Now I know what some of you are thinking. Seriously? "Bath Spa University" this has to be a joke, right? Wrong. Bath Spa University is located in Bath England and it was originally called "Bath Collage of Higher Education. It became a full fledged University in August of 2005.

I also found that Dr. Nicholas Christenfeld, Professor of Psychology at UC San Diego, conducted a test in a San Diego dog park where he took photos of dogs and owners separately, then asked people to match photos of dogs to photos of their owners. He too discovered that the public was right on the money.

Dr. Christenfeld says the accuracy in pure breeds is due to selection – when people choose a pure breed, they know what the dog will look like as an adult. With a mutt, you don’t know what he’ll end up looking like.

Dr. Workman figured that those who don't own dogs used stereotypes to match the dogs to their owners.
"These stereotypes persisted into judgments of the dog owners' personalities: non dog owners considered the owners of each breed to share certain personality traits, such as level of conscientiousness and emotional stability."

"But when we tested the dog owners' personalities, we found no strong links between any particular personality trait and choice of dog breed, so any shared qualities are only skin deep," Dr. Workman said.

But I also found that Prof Richard Wiseman, of the University of Hertfordshire, asked almost 2,500 people to complete online questionnaires about their characters and those of their pets. In order to figure out if pet owners in general shared the same personalities as their animal companions.

He found that many dog lovers, cat owners and even reptile keepers said they shared many of the same traits — such as happiness, intelligence, independence and sense of humour — as their pets. 

But he also discovered that the longer an animal had been with their owner, the more likely they were to have picked up their characteristics. 


Prof Wiseman said: "For years owners have insisted their pets have a unique personality. 

"Not only does this work suggest they might be right, it also reveals people's pets are a reflection of themselves."

Almost half of the respondents to his survey were cat owners, while 31 per cent had dogs, seven per cent fish, six per cent birds and six per cent reptiles.

Prof Wiseman found about 20 per cent of pet owners rated their own personality and that of their animals in similar terms.


Fish owners were apparently the most contented, with 37 per cent strongly agreeing that they were happy, compared with 24 per cent of people with cats and 22 per cent of those who had dogs agreeing.

Four out of 10 people with dogs believed they were fun-loving, compared to just two per cent of reptile owners.

Those with cats came out as the most dependable, but also the most emotionally sensitive, while those who kept reptiles were the most independent.



But for those who had owned their animal for seven years or more, the chance of them rating their pet's traits as broadly comparable to their own increased to about 40 per cent.  So longer you own your pet the more likely your pet will begin to act like you...or will you begin to act like your pet?

Now that I think of it my uncle Jim use to chase us around the house barking like a dog and he'd even stick his head out the car window when driving down the high way. He owned a Chinese Shar pei.


Prof Wiseman said: "Similarity promotes liking in humans. Research has shown couples that are like each other stay together longer... So what ever happen to opposites attract? - I guess that's is where all the failed relationships come into play.

Prof Wiseman believes that: "Extending this to the animal kingdom, someone who is fun and playful is more likely to go for a dog, for example.


"It's like with married couples. They grow to look like each other and to have similar personalities. It's possible we are seeing a similar effect."

Based on this study it's no wonder that I am so overly emotional. Maybe my family should consider owning one type of pet and then I could relax once in a while... Anyway.



Dale always said we were destine to be
together because we look alike.
I thought it was just a pick-up line.
The research continues to show that A similar phenomenon happens among couples. People tend to be attracted to those who have personalities similar to their own, according to a study done in 2006. And as time goes on, similarities in appearance grow, explaining why some older couples look alike.

But further investigation also said that those who think purebred dogs look like their owners are barking up the right tree, but matching a mutt to its master is another thing.

Research at the University of California, San Diego indicates that when people pick a dog, they look for one that, at some level, bears some resemblance to them. And when they get a purebred dog, they get what they want.

I guess this could be somewhat true. When Dale said he wanted to buy me a Shiba Inu he did request that I pick one with red hair instead of a black one like I wanted. When I asked him did it matter to him he replied "so that it looks like us"


While I am not certain that I look or act anything like my Shiba Inu's I am certain that all of my pets not just my dogs are a big part of who I am.







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