No wonder dogs are man's best friend. A study finds that dogs and their owners often develop similar personalities.
You may have heard that dogs and their owners really do look alike. Now, new research has shown that owners and their pups often share personality traits, too.
Do dogs and their owners really share the same personality trait?
A paper, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, says a dog’s personality reflects the personality of its owner. It also explains that dogs experience personality changes similar to how humans do over the course of their lives.
Research conducted in 2020 surveyed the owners of 1,600 dogs, covering 50 different breeds. The canines were split closely between males and females, and their ages spanned from puppies to adult dogs. The owners answered questions about themselves, as well as questions about their pets’ personalities and behavioural history.
The survey revealed that just like human’s dog personalities aren’t set in stone. Rather, dog personalities change as they grow older and are influenced by their lifestyles and experiences. So, remember, the dog you take home from the shelter or the puppy you have fallen in love with isn’t the same dog you’ll have 10 years from now.
Why Do Dogs and Owners Share The Same Personality
Your pup’s personality is responsible for more than just how they behave at the dog park, too. The researchers say it can predict important life outcomes, such as biting behaviour and chronic disease risk.
We Are Twins - Dog and Owner Personalities Often Mirror
After analysing the data, the researchers found an interesting fact: dog and owner personalities often mirror each other. Active and outgoing people tended to have canine companions that behaved similarly. Dogs that were anxious or aggressive had owners that possessed more negative personality traits.
People probably pick dogs that match their lifestyles, or that shared lifestyle can cause dog and human personalities to meld over time. Owners projecting their personalities onto their dogs may seem like a plausible explanation. But previous work cited by the study explains that friends or relatives often describe a dog’s personality similar to how the owner does. So, owner bias probably doesn’t explain why dogs often act like their owners.
Old Dogs, New Personality Tricks
If you think back to your school days, you might remember encountering class clowns, bullies, and shy kids. The same personality dynamics are at play in puppy pre-school, and they can impact learning. Owners reported that dogs with specific traits are easier to train than others. For instance, excitable and happy dogs are easier to train, while fearful and anxious dogs are more challenging.
Age was also strongly correlated with trainability. Puppyhood to middle age is prime for training. After that, dogs become a bit set in their ways. So, can you really teach an old dog new trick?
It’s extremely hard to train a puppy. You have a hard time maintaining their attention. But as they age, it gets easier and easier, but after age six, it doesn’t become easier. It becomes harder. The first half of a dog’s life is important if you want to expose them to training.
Just as personality has been linked to disease risk in humans, some traits seem to help lower a dog’s risk of chronic illness, especially age-related conditions. Dogs that are more active and excitable are less likely to develop chronic illnesses like hip dysplasia, blindness, deafness, and arthritis.
Activity and excitability are probably correlated with BMI, and there’s a lot of weight-related complications if your dog is overweight … it puts strain on their body, and that’s probably not a good thing, male dogs also have a higher disease risk.
Does Dog Breeds Matter
The study was unable to spot any meaningful findings related to breed. While more than 50 breeds participated in the study, some dog breeds were far more popular than others. That made it difficult to match traits to breeds. But that doesn’t mean that breed isn’t a factor in a dog’s personality.
A recent study found that dog behavioural tendencies are distinct and are rooted in their DNA. This study, however, found that purebred dogs were less fearful and aggressive. Female dogs and dogs that were spayed/neutered were also less likely to display fearful and aggressive traits. Unfortunately, though, dogs that are prone to these traits will rarely completely outgrow them.
But no matter the dog, obedience classes and training can go a long way toward helping a dog’s personality blossom.
It was found that dogs that were exposed to some training or obedience classes were less aggressive, less fearful, and more active, excitable, and responsive to training.
After assessing 16 popular dog breeds in relation to the five main personality types, the team found that pet parents' character traits often matched up with those of their chosen dog breed. When analysing the data, they came to the below conclusions:
- Risk-takers were most likely to have whippets
- Those with positive outlooks on life tended to have golden retrievers
- Organised individuals had miniature schnauzers
- Agreeable extroverts had Pomeranians
- People who were affectionate and friendly had Staffordshire bull terriers or Jack Russell terriers.
For most dog lovers, this study maybe validates what they’ve known all along: that dogs are complex creatures that share a unique bond with their owners. While not all dogs and owners have identical personalities, there are a few factors that can contribute to similarities between them.
Contributing Factors When Choosing a Dogs Personality
Selection Bias: When choosing a dog, owners often consider various factors such as size, energy level, temperament, and compatibility with their lifestyle. These considerations are influenced by the owner's own personality traits and preferences. For instance, a calm and introverted person might choose a smaller and less energetic breed like a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or a Basset Hound. On the other hand, an outgoing and active person might opt for a more energetic breed like a Golden Retriever or a Vizsla. This deliberate selection process based on personal inclinations can result in dogs and owners sharing certain personality traits.
Environmental Influence: Dogs are highly perceptive and attuned to their surroundings. They are capable of observing and imitating human behaviours, which can lead to similarities between dogs and their owners. Dogs often learn from their owners through observational learning, mimicry, and social bonding. They can pick up on their owner's body language, vocal cues, and emotional states. If an owner tends to be calm and relaxed, their dog may exhibit similar behaviour. Conversely, if an owner is highly energetic and enthusiastic, their dog may also display a similar level of enthusiasm. This mirroring behaviour can be attributed to dogs' social nature and their inclination to form strong bonds with their owners.
Shared Lifestyles: Dogs and their owners often share similar lifestyles due to their daily routines and activities. Owners who enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, jogging, or playing sports are more likely to have dogs that accompany them in these endeavours. These shared experiences and adventures can shape the personality and behaviour of both the dog and the owner. For example, an owner who regularly engages in active pursuits is more likely to have a dog that is energetic, agile, and enjoys physical exercise. Similarly, if an owner has a more sedentary lifestyle, their dog may exhibit lower energy levels and a preference for quieter activities.
Emotional Connection: The emotional bond between dogs and their owners is a significant factor that contributes to similarities in personality traits. Dogs are known for their ability to provide emotional support and companionship to their owners. Through this deep connection, dogs can sense their owner's emotions and respond accordingly. If an owner is calm and nurturing, their dog may exhibit a similar calmness and affectionate nature. Conversely, an owner who is anxious or high-strung might have a dog that mirrors these traits. This emotional connection can lead to a mutual understanding, empathy, and shared emotional experiences between dogs and their owners.
It's important to acknowledge that while there can be similarities between dogs and their owners in terms of personality traits, it is not a universal rule. Dogs, like humans, are individuals with their own unique temperaments and behaviours.
Some dogs may have distinctive personalities that differ from their owners. Additionally, dogs can also influence their owners' behaviours and personalities over time through their companionship, affection, and the bond they develop.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do Dogs Develop Similar Personalities to Their Owners?
Dogs develop similar personalities to their owners due to various reasons, such as observational learning and emotional bonding. Dogs are perceptive creatures who learn from their owners' behaviors and often mirror their emotional states. Over time, these behaviors become ingrained, leading to shared personality traits.
What Factors Influence a Dog's Personality Development Over Time?
A dog's personality development over time can be influenced by age, lifestyle, and experiences. Just like humans, dogs undergo personality changes as they grow older. Factors such as training, socialization, environmental changes, and their interactions with the owner can significantly shape a dog's personality over time.
How Can a Dog's Personality Affect Its Behavior and Health?
A dog's personality can greatly influence its behavior and health. For instance, dogs that are more active and excitable are less likely to develop certain chronic illnesses. Similarly, dogs with specific personality traits may be easier or more difficult to train, which can affect behaviors such as biting.
Are Certain Dog Breeds More Likely to Mirror Their Owners' Personalities?
While the study didn't find significant breed-specific trends in mirroring owners' personalities, it doesn't mean breed isn't a factor. A dog's breed can influence its overall behavior, temperament, and tendencies, which may align with the owner's personality depending on why that specific breed was chosen.
How Can an Owner's Personality Influence Their Dog's Training and Behavior?
An owner's personality can significantly influence a dog's training and behavior. Dogs with owners who are consistent, patient, and positive often train more effectively. Similarly, the owner's traits, such as being active or calm, can influence a dog's behavior over time.
Conclusion, Do W Take On The Same Personalities As Our Dog
It appears that we can often tell a lot about a person from the type of dog that they own. It is quite striking to see how many people unconsciously select dog breeds with personalities that match their own character, showing that birds of a feather really do flock together.
The relationship between dogs and their owners is a dynamic and complex interplay of various factors. While there may be shared personality traits between them, it is important to recognise that both dogs and humans are capable of exhibiting a wide range of behaviours, and their individuality should be respected and celebrated.