Dogs Really Do Look Like Their Owners

February 14, 2012 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

The following article was written by Anna Salleh (2.4.04) ABC:

“It’s official. Dogs look like their owners, a U.S. study suggests.

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego showed that people choose purebred dogs that resemble them. But they weren’t so fussy when it came to choosing a mongrel.

Psychologists Michael Roy and Professor Nicholas Christenfeld report their findings in the May issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the American Psychological Society.

The researchers explored the myth that owners look like their dogs by seeing if judges could match photographs of dogs with their owners.

The researchers photographed 45 dogs (25 purebreds and 22 mongrels) and their owners, separately. The researchers then showed 28 judges pictures of the owners, their dogs, and one other dog and asked to pick the true match.

Kia - 1

The judges matched 16 purebred dogs with their owners but couldn’t find a link between mongrels and their owners.

The researchers also explored whether any resemblance had developed while the person had owned the dog, in the same way that a 1987 report suggested the facial appearance of married couples converged over time.

The other explanation would be that owners selected dogs at the outset that looked like them, the researchers said.

The researchers discounted the “length of ownership” theory when they found no correlation between the degree of resemblance and the time the dog and owner had been together.

This left the “selection” theory. The researchers said the fact that resemblance only occurred in purebred dogs, which have a more predictable appearance as puppies compared to a mixed breed, supported that theory.

The researchers said that a person was also likely to spend more time choosing a purebred puppy and thus be more likely to get what they want.

The research couldn’t establish that owners choose dogs on the basis of hairiness, size, sharpness of features, attractiveness, perceived friendliness or perceived energy level.

“The judges did not make correct matches by simply matching hairy people with hairy dogs, or big people with big dogs,” the authors wrote. “It may be that the judges used some other more subtle trait.”

The case with purebreds

According to Australian psychologist Dr Eleonora Gullone, who studies human-animal interactions at Melbourne’s Monash University, the study may have been biased by judges’ preconceptions about purebred dogs.

“People have preconceived notions of the personality of dog breeds,” she told ABC Science Online.

The researchers did find a trend that people with a friendly outlook on life were more likely to choose friendly-looking dogs.

While they said this association was only modest and not statistically significant, Gullone said this could be because of the small sample size.

Gullone also criticised the way the researchers declared a match: at least 15 of the judges would have to find a resemblance.

“That’s just one over 50% and I’m not comfortable with that,” she said.

The U.S. team said other research had found a link between owners and their dogs. They referred to 1999 research showing that women with long hair gave higher ratings of attractiveness, friendliness, loyalty and intelligence to dogs with floppy, rather than pricked ears”.

Dog Naturopath, Sar Rooney’s comment: It seems to me that our tax-paying dollars are going towards funding research that really has no consequence and may not even be valid.

If YOU were a dog – what breed would you be 🙂 ?


Please consult a qualified animal naturopath for advice about nutritionally-balanced diets and naturopathic medicines for the treatment of animals. 

Yours In Great Health,

Sar Rooney BHSc., DC., ND., DASc., GDSc. (Hons) Zoology, MHATO, MATMS

Naturopathic Practitioner, Researcher, Lecturer, Canine Naturopath

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