You’ve probably heard of the common trope that people have the same personality as their dog. And when you think about it, it’s pretty true! In fact, the next time you’re at the dog park, spend five minutes trying to match the doggos to their owners. Chances are, you’ll probably be able to figure it out pretty quickly.
But why is this? Do we really tend to choose dog breeds that mirror us exactly? Or is there something else going on? In this article, we’re going to explain this phenomenon from a couple of different angles.
Reason One: the selection process
The pretty obvious answer of why our dogs act and look like us is because we make sure of it. Now, obviously, we don’t stroll into an adoption centre and say, “Give me the pup that looks and acts just like me.” Instead, the selection process is subtle and mostly subconscious.
When we select a dog to become a member of our family, there’s a part of our genetics that draws us to the one that looks the most like us. According to Psychology Today, this is called the “Mere Exposure Effect”. A person with high cheekbones, for instance, might be drawn to a dog with angular features like a Doberman or a Vizsla. A person with a wide smile might end up with a Pug, Pitbull or Mastiff (although let’s be honest, most dogs have wonderful grins).
But it’s not just the physical features that make our dogs seem familiar to us. We also tend to choose certain personality traits that are similar, as well. It’s not surprising to see an outdoorsy person with a dog that can join in adventures, like the Border Collie. Another example might be the tightly-knit family enjoying the company of a breed known for its loyalty: the German Shepherd.
And for those of us who enjoy a more indoorsy way of life, it makes sense to snuggle up with a fellow gentle homebody – a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or French Bulldog, for instance.
So, whether we realise that we’re doing it or not, we gravitate towards the dogs that will best fit into the life and the family that we already have. We’re happy. The pooch is happy. Everyone wins!
Reason Two: training
All Pet Owners have their own ideas about the rules their dogs should follow. A Pet Owner who enjoys structure and discipline in their own life may put more emphasis on rigorous training. Another Owner who takes a more flexible approach to life may have a dog that is more accustomed to freedom. When booking a Pet Sitter, one may choose to leave their pooch in a new and exciting environment. Meanwhile, another Owner may book a Sitter to care for their furry friend in their existing home to maintain structure.
That’s why, in one household, you may see a pooch that knows to lay down on their bed during human dinner time. By contrast, in another home, the furry family member may be under the table waiting for table scraps.
Now, we don’t want to say that one training style is better than any other. As long as the doggo is safe and healthy, Owners have the final say in how they want their dogs to behave. However, it’s interesting to see how these unique training styles can shape a dog’s personality.
Reason Three: your dog adapts their personality as they live with you
In terms of their evolution, dogs are social creatures, which makes them naturally skilled at interacting with others in their pack – or our family. In fact, National Geographic states that dogs can read and mirror our emotions while a 2017 Austrian study found that our dogs adopt our coping mechanisms for stress. So while we often think about how our dogs can cheer us up, our impact on them is even stronger.
Plus, there’s the very simple fact that dogs like us. They want to be on the couch when we’re on the couch. If we spend much of our time outside, they’ll be more than happy to be in our company. Whatever our hobbies, dogs are right there with us – or at least they want to be.
And because of this desire to make us happy, dogs will get the picture about whether you like their behaviours. If you keep ignoring them because they’re bouncing off the walls when you’re trying to watch TV, they’ll eventually learn that TV time is quiet time. If you refuse to feed or even look at them while you’re eating, they will eventually stop begging for food. As you can see, these subtle interactions happen all the time. In short, they provide your pooch with important information about how they can adapt to your preferences.
So, let’s get back to the question at hand
Do dogs and their Owners really have the same personality? Well, no, not entirely. Every dog, just like every human, is unique. That said, dogs have adapted some truly incredible ways to make themselves fit into our lives.
When you add that to the fact that we tend to choose dogs who look and act like us, it’s really no wonder why our dogs seem to be just like us.