Research has shown that owners often choose dogs that look similar to them. Data also suggests that the dogs we choose to share our life with tend to have similar personalities.
One study asked owners to rank themselves and their dogs in five personality traits – neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness.
Owners ranked themselves and their dogs as having similar personalities in all five categories. To help combat the errors of self-reported data and projection by the owners, family members familiar with both the owner and dog were asked to rank each independently. In the third-person ranking, dogs and their owners were similar in four out of five categories.
The strongest association between dogs and their owners took place in neuroticism and extraversion. Neuroticism compared how sensitive and nervous a person was versus secure and confident. Extraversion looked at how outgoing, sociable and energetic a person/dog was versus solitary and reserved. The weakest association was in the openness category – or how inventive and curios versus consistent and cautious.
Another study compared personality type to the likelihood of owning certain breeds – traits displayed by the owners were generally found in the dog and increased the likelihood that the two would make a successful pair.
According to the results, Labrador and golden retrievers tend to be owned by friendly people, while working dogs such as the Great Dane tend to owned by agreeable, intelligent people. Corgis are owned by extroverts and toy dogs are owned by open, creative and intelligent people. It seems several different breeds or types of breeds of dogs are associated with different types of personalities or combinations of personalities.
Of course, research such as this is subjective by nature, and there are all sorts of variables at play – subjective reporting by humans, the ability of dogs to adapt to the owner’s life and personality (and the influence the two have on each other), lifestyle situations and uses (active outdoor lifestyle vs. quiet office setting, hunting dog vs. companion-only animal, apartment vs. country living, etc.).
Personally, these studies ring true for me. Of course, I have polar opposite-type dogs, so I just might be neurotic (and not in a good way). Kona, my black Labrador retriever, loves to please and work as a team, he’s intelligent, hard-working, athletic and wants to be outside on an adventure. My white English bulldog, Hoss, has always been rather lazy, stubborn, uncooperative and would rather lay on the couch than go outside (especially if it’s hot, raining or not exactly 68.5 degrees with little-to-no breeze). They both exemplify the two sides of my personality and lifestyle. Of course, that’s just self-reported data, but I tend to think it’s true.
How about you? Do your dogs reflect your personality and/or lifestyle accurately?