The Science Behind Why We Choose Dogs That Look and Act Like Us

Do you think you look like your dog, or have you ever said “That person looks just like their dog!”? Now there may be a reason behind this phenomenon!



As dog lovers, many of us have found ourselves drawn to particular dogs that bear a striking resemblance to our physical features and personalities. And yes, we know we look a lot like our dogs - or do they look like us? Is this just a coincidence, or is there a deeper, scientific explanation behind this phenomenon? Read on as we dig into some research and share some fascinating reasons why we tend to choose dogs that mirror our appearances and traits. 


The Similarity-Attraction Effect

Numerous studies have shown that people are naturally inclined to be attracted to and from stronger bonds with individuals, including pets, who share similar physical characteristics. In 1971, psychologist Donn Byrne introduced the similarity-attraction theory in The Attraction Paradigm. The phenomenon, known as the "similarity-attraction effect", suggests that we subconsciously perceive those who resemble us as more familiar, trustworthy, and likable. 


In the context of dog ownership, meaning we are more likely to be drawn to dogs that share our facial features, body types, and even coloration. This similarity can create a sense of familiarity and comfort, making it easier for us to connect with our furry friends.




Personality Matters

It's not just physical appearance that plays a role in our dog-choosing decisions. A study led by the Kennel Club, the UK’s largest organization dedicated to dog health, welfare, and training, showed people are more likely to pick a dog with a personality and temperament similar to their own, often without even realizing it. For example, if you consider yourself to be an outgoing and energetic individual, you may be more inclined to choose a high-energy, playful dog breed. Conversely, if you're more of an introvert, you might be drawn to a calmer, more relaxed breed. This personality matching can be beneficial for both the dog and the owner, as it can lead to a more harmonious and fulfilling relationship. When our dogs' personalities mesh well with our own, we're more likely to understand their needs, communicate effectively, and provide the appropriate care and training. 



 Looking Back Through the Ages

Interestingly, the tendency to choose dogs that resemble us and share our personality traits may have evolutionary roots dating back 15,000 years ago when dogs started to be domesticated. Researchers suggest that this behavior is a remnant of our ancestral past when selecting animals with familiar characteristics was crucial for survival and successful integration into a social group. In the context of dog domestication, this preference for similarity may have helped our ancestors form stronger bonds with their canine companions – primarily wolves, which would have provided benefits such as improved hunting success, better protection, and increased social cohesion within the group. 



The Benefits of Being Doglike

Understanding the science behind why we choose dogs that look and act like us can have important benefits for dog owners and the overall well-being of our dogs. By recognizing these tendencies, we can be more mindful of our selection process to ensure that we choose a dog that not only fits our lifestyle and needs but also complements our personality. This can lead to a more fulfilling and rewarding relationship, as well as a better quality of life for our dogs. 


And yes, we have been told we look like our dogs - which we consider the highest of compliments! 

1 comment

I have always said that people look like their dogs! Not sure that I see that in myself (I do not think I look like a labrador!) I may act like one!

Jeannie April 19, 2024

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