We’ve all heard that pet parents and their dogs eventually begin to look alike, but is it true? While there are plenty of online examples of people who do resemble their pets, it seems that this phenomenon is more real than many people previously believed.
The Physical Connection
In a study conducted by Dr. Nakajima at the Department of Psychological Science at Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan, researchers found that people can accurately pair photos of dogs and their pet parents in a randomized stack. This means that there are definitive appearances that are similar between dogs and their pet parents. The study went on to find that these similarities are largely based around the eyes. When the eyes of pets or people were blocked out in photos, study subjects were no longer able to choose accurately which pairs were actual pet parents and their furry friends. This lends credibility to the claim that pet parents and their four-legged companions really do look alike.
The Dog-Human Connection
Anyone who has a dog knows that the canine/human relationship is a deep one. Dogs often live for upwards of ten years, and because most pet parents get their dogs as puppies, it is very likely that dogs and their families have spent years together growing extremely close. Additionally, dogs are deeply sensitive and there is some evidence suggesting that pet parenting comes with certain emotional benefits, which makes people bond more closely to their pets.
The Emotional Connection
In addition to looking alike, pets and their human partners may display some of the same personality traits. Both of these parallels are the result of emotional connection. A recent study conducted by Borbála Turcsána, Friederike Range, Zsófia Virányi, Ádám Miklósi and Enikö Kubinyi in a collaborative effort between the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna and Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary, looked at these similarities. The study, which was published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, found that when surveyed, pet parents claimed that their dogs shared a similar personality to theirs. The study looked at the following personality traits:
- Neuroticism: Determines whether a person is nervous and sensitive, or confident and secure.
- Extraversion: This looks at whether a person is sociable, outgoing, and energetic, or introverted and reserved.
- Agreeableness: Measures whether someone is compassionate and kind, or mean and cold.
- Conscientiousness: Assesses whether a person is efficient, organized, and hardworking, or lazy and careless.
- Openness: Measures whether a person is intelligent, inventive, and excited, or cautious and withdrawn.
When projection was controlled for, researchers found that dogs exhibited every personality trait at similar levels to that of their pet parents, except for openness. The reasoning for this is that pet parents project their own intellectual prowess onto their dogs and that pups may not in fact possess these in levels similar to their pet parents.
With those results in mind, it seems that dogs and their pet parents have similar personality traits and appearances. The reasoning behind this is that there is comfort in familiarity and that perhaps people subconsciously choose dogs that look like themselves. Regardless of why it happens, a family of similar pet parents and dogs is a wonderful thing.Content reviewed by a veterinarian.
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