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When dog and owner look alike


Are dogs and their humans so entwined that they tend to take after one another in appearance?

The question — one drawing increasing scrutiny from scientists — was asked, but not really answered, in a piece in the the Health section of yesterday’s New York Times.

In 2004, researchers in San Diego found that people were able to correctly match pictures of dog owners with their pets more often than not, but only when the dogs were purebreds. Similarities in facial expressions played a big role in the choices.

 The same year, a psychologist at the University of South Carolina challenged the findings in a separate study, but the San Diego researchers countered with a reanalysis that confirmed their initial findings.

Earlier this year, a scientist in England conducted a study in which 70 subjects were asked to match pictures of 41 dog owners to one of several breeds. They were able to match successfully more than half the time.

As with the San Diego study, the subjects later said they matched mostly by looking for personality traits that they believed the dogs and their owners shared.

What’s not known is whether that’s because dog and owner tend to take on a similar appearance (my personal theory), or because people look for certain traits or predispositions that might match their own when choosing a dog.

(Photo: courtesy of afunnystuff.com)


Comment from Mary Haight
Time August 11, 2009 at 6:41 pm

Wow–what a photo! That guy would win our “dog owner look alike” contest every time:)

I think many people pick animals that have a certain look–traits/features they see that are much like their own.

Comment from Mary Schmidt
Time August 11, 2009 at 10:09 pm

I don’t know what it means, but I find myself wearing clothing that closely matches the colors of my dog’s fur–black, brown, and white combinations. It’s a good color scheme on Amie Dog anyway!

Comment from Epazia
Time August 12, 2009 at 2:12 pm

I am a devote believer in this! Just think about it and look around at pet lovers. It is down right creepy. (looks over at the best dog ever!)

Comment from Arthur McKevitt
Time April 25, 2012 at 5:46 am

Hi I was once at a market in London with my friend. The owner of the stall had a Beefeater beard and I said to my friend,look at his dog. My friend immediately burst out laughing as the dog was beardy and really complimented his owner with a real look alike soulmate expression. A lovely sight to behold and never forgotten.