Why You Look Like Your Dog

Ever think that you look like your furry friend? You may have some scientific evidence to back you up.

If you have ever been told that you and Fido have a striking resemblance, read on to find out why!


Do Owners Really Look Like Their Dogs?

Let’s first see if there is anything to the idea of people who look like their dogs. A few studies actually confirm this trend. Looks like it is not an urban legend after all!

Study 1: Photographic Evidence You May Look Like Your Pet

A picture is worth a thousand words…or so they say.

Ines Opifanti, a German photographer, showed the amazing resemblance that pets and owners have to each other by matching 30 volunteers and their pets in side-by-side facial comparisons. Even though the humans and dogs are completely different species, the similarities are uncanny.

Study 2: The Line Up

Another interesting study included images of 45 dog owners, their dogs, and another dog. Judges were asked to pair the images and the results showed a significant ability to match the correct pairs.

The main finding of the research was there is a significant resemblance between people and their dogs that the judges were able to detect. However, there was also another interesting finding: Those with purebred dogs were paired much more reliably than those with mixed breed dogs. 

Is it possible that when we choose a purebred dog we reveal something about ourselves that is unspoken but all the same noticeable to the casual observer? Perhaps...


A Few Theories

Researchers have been working to try to find the link between the idea that pets look like their owners and have come up with some theories as to why.

There are main two arguments surrounding the topics of why people might look like their pets:

  1.  You adopt dogs that look like you because you are naturally attracted to the resemblance you have with them.
  2.  You start to look like your pet because you live together for an extended period of time and cohabitate with them.

Theory 1: You Chose a Dog That Looks Like You

Some research shows that people tend to choose dogs that share their physical characteristics over dogs that look vastly different from them.

One possible explanation is that through evolution we are shaped to nurture other creatures and love and care for them as our own. We tend to like things that are familiar to us biologically because we know them to be safe. If we recognize them, we can identify if they are a danger to us.

For example, our own faces are very familiar to us, we see them everyday in the mirror. If we see these traits displayed in a puppy, we are much more likely to choose that pet.

If an owner has a large nose, they might choose a long snouted pup. Factors as small as ear and eye shape can weigh into an owners decision unconsciously. Naturally we are drawn to pets that bear a resemblance to us.

In other studies scientists further found if a woman had a long hairstyle they chose dogs with long face framing ears while women with short hairstyles tended to pick to prick or short-eared dogs. We’re much likelier to pass on our own traits to our dogs than we are to adopt theirs from cohabitation.

And, it's not just dogs. Apparently, people also resemble their cars! That gives us even more evidence that our deep desire for similarity drives our choices. 

Theory 2: You Become More Like Your Dog Over Time

Owners and dogs are closely bonded and they influence each other’s lives. Our desire to nurture other creatures goes beyond our species entirely. 

For example, a company called Petsies creates custom stuffed plush animals that look just like your furry companion! No need to even be at work without a reminder of your best friend. 

Of course, once you have brought your dog home from the shelter, you won’t be able to influence fixed characteristics like her eye shape or ear length. However, when it comes to choosing styles for trims, outfits and doggy gear, of course our tastes will influence those decisions.

And, things like our attitudes about food can play a role in dog obesity, affecting the shape of our little (or big) friends.

And, the similarities go beyond dogs that look like their owners…you may well be growing together in terms of your personalities. Unlike the old-school theory that you can predict a dog’s behavior from their puppy behaviors, it turns out that their personality and style is highly shaped by their environment.

These findings are confirmed by a large survey of over 2,500 pet owners, many of whom felt their personality similarities with their pets increased over time. Yes, this was also true for people that owned cats, reptiles, and even fish!

Of course, it isn’t a one way street. We may influence our canine companions, but they also influence us. Dogs can remind us of the joy in life, keep us from taking things too seriously, and give us the unconditional love that can have a dramatic influence on our mood.

And, it also does not rule out the theory that we may be choosing our companions based on our own preferences and personality, such as one study showed in regards to a preference for aggressive dogs.

In addition, there are some pretty clear differences between dog and cat people, or so says this study. So, before you even chose to adopt a dog in the first place, you may already have more in common than you realized.

In the end, the reason why you look like your dog is probably a combination of being selective as well as influencing each other as you strengthen your bond over time. And really, that is what it is all about!

Sharon Elber (M.S. in Science & Technology) - Professional Dog Trainer

Sharon is a writer and received her M.S. in Science & Technology Studies from Virginia Tech and has worked as a professional dog trainer for over 10 years.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Leave a Reply: