Not only do some owners look like their dogs, now researchers say they act like them too
08:53 GMT, 20 April 2012
It is often said that dog owners have a striking resemblance to their pets. A new report says they act like them too.
The study of British dog owners has revealed that people tend to choose animals that mirror their own personality.
If the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
took the survey, their choice of a cocker spaniel, Lupo, suggests
intelligence, agreeableness and conscientiousness.
The Duchess of Cambridge walking through Kensington Gardens with her cocker spaniel, Lupo. Owners of gun dogs are said to be outdoorsy types and agreeable
Agreeable types are drawn to
labradors, a breed known for their friendliness, while hard-working and
responsible sorts favour no-nonsense bulldogs.
But there were some surprises.
The owners of chihuahuas and other ‘handbag dogs’ beloved by celebrities such as Paris Hilton and former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell are apparently most intelligent.
The findings come from psychologist Lance Workman who questioned 2,000 people, including 1,000 dog owners, about their character traits.
The results showed the two groups to be broadly similar.
But within the dog owners, there were clear differences. Owners of Corgis, the breed favoured by the Queen and DJ Chris Evans, scored highest on extroversion.
Dr Workman said: ‘The Queen is probably more extrovert than she appears. It takes a lot to stand up in front of people and give a good talk and at the same time she has to be controlled as the head of state.’
Hounds, such as foxhounds and beagles, are known for their even temperament and tend to be found by the side of calm and consistent people.
Working dogs, such as great danes, are owned by people who score higher on average on agreeableness and intelligence.
Geri Halliwell and her shih-tzu 'handbag dog' Harry. They are thought to be the most intelligent
Labradors and golden retrievers, the
pets of choice for Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston, tend to be
paired with friendly sorts.
Owners of toy dogs, however, buck the stereotype.
Dr Workman, who presented his findings at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference, said: ‘One of the great things was that toy dog owners, who are often seen as airheads, came out pretty much on top when it came to openness, creativity and intelligence.’
To drive home his point, the Bath Spa University psychologist added: ‘Isaac Newton had what we’d today call a toy dog, a Pomeranian.
He could take it around with him. It was easy to handle and left his mind free for other things.’
Some may also be surprised to find that owning a cairn terrier makes Simon Cowell agreeable.
Dr Workman, who did the research with student Jo Fearon, said: ‘TV personalities often play a role. I don’t know Simon Cowell but it may be that if you know him personally that he is a nice chap to have around.’
Several years ago, Dr Workman showed that people really do look like their dogs – because we are drawn to pets with similar physical attributes.
Discussing his latest results, he said: ‘It could be that when you look for a dog, on some level that is largely subconscious, you look for something that is a bit like you.
‘It is a bit like looking for a romantic partner: if they fit in, they will probably last.
But it also has to fit in with your lifestyle. If you are going to get a gundog, you need to be an outdoor type of person.’
Dr Workman, who was put in touch with dog owners by the Kennel Club, said the results could be used to create a questionnaire that would help match would-be owners with suitable breeds and so reduce the number of abandoned pets.