We have all seen those funny photos online - dogs looking like their owners. You may have even encountered real-life doggy parents and their canine "mini-me" when you walked through your local park. Dogs and their owners do indeed tend to look alike and it’s not just a coincidence. There’s actually scientific research to back it up.
In 2009, Professor Sadahiko Nakajima, a psychologist at Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan, experimented to see if strangers were able to match up dogs and their owners. He found that people were surprisingly accurate when matching pictures of dogs with their owners. These strangers were able to identify the dogs to their owners with 80% accuracy. This suggests that dogs look like their owners.
Professor Nakajima didn’t stop there. He went deeper and devised another experiment to test if specific facial features were key to correctly matching dogs and owners. In this experiment, he found that the eyes are the clue. When the participants were given photos of either dogs or owners with their eyes covered, the accuracy rate plummeted to around 50%. However, when the eyes were made visible, but all other facial parts were covered, the matching accuracy rate was at an astounding 74%!
Though science did not provide an answer to how the participants were able to match the owners to their pet dogs correctly by just looking at the eyes, the romantic notion is that the eyes are the window to the soul, and our dogs are our soulmates.
So, at the end of the day, it’s not about hairdos or any other physical traits; it’s all in the eyes. Soulmates connect through the eyes.
Other studies suggest that a person chooses a dog that resembles him or her. This may be like the way we choose a partner. We tend to choose someone with shared physical and personality traits because it feels familiar. Subconsciously, a dog owner will choose a dog that “feels familiar” – a canine companion that looks, and acts like them. How many times have you noticed an outgoing pet owner with an exuberant dog and a low-key owner with a mellow, quiet pup at the dog run? This might not be just a coincidence. In a study by Borbala Turcsan at Eotvos University in Budapest, Turcsan proved that some personality traits in us, are reflected in our choice of a canine companion.
Even if a pup has a slightly different personality trait, it can, and often does take on the same personality traits as its owner. When we go through life changes, our personality traits may change and the same is true for our dogs. According to researchers at Michigan State University, a dog’s personality is greatly influenced by its environment and will change – for better or worse - according to these influences. The amount of time they spend with us, and the bond that they have with us, will greatly influence their personality over time.
We should not forget that dogs are true empaths. They are very good at sensing our emotions and will respond accordingly. Our dog’s emotions can mirror ours. They have the ability to read and match our human emotions. It is not uncommon to find pet owners suffering from chronic anxiety, to have their dogs develop chronic anxiety as well over time. Some dogs will try to comfort their upset owners, but unfortunately, as pet owners, we don’t always recognize these cues from our furry friends. The cues are subtle like laying down next to us, making physical contact with their paws, or trying to distract us with a toy.
Just like our dogs trying to comfort us in times of stress and anxiety, we can help our anxious dogs find comfort too. First, we need to be mindful of our own emotions and behaviours. Did we unintentionally cause stress to our dogs? If we did, rectify that first. Then try some natural stress relief remedy like this ADAPTIL Calm Behaviour Training (For Anxiety) Diffuser Kit for Dogs. It’s scientifically proven to calm puppies and adult dogs naturally using synthetic DAP, a calming doggy pheromone. The pheromones are species-specific and will not affect humans or other animal species.
On the flip side, can your dog’s personality rub off on you? Experts believe this can happen though commonly, it’s the other way around. An anxious, restless dog can result in owner anxiety. An overly anxious dog that paces all night or barks excessively throughout the day, can overstimulate a pet parent leading to anxiousness in the parent. Similarly, a very calm dog may help to calm an anxious owner.
By now, this should come as no surprise to you that the owner’s lifestyle will influence the dog’s physical and personality traits. Pet owners who are outdoor junkies are more likely to adopt energetic pups that love outdoor adventures. As they deck themselves in their adventure gear and gadgets, they would usually choose to dress their pups in a similar fashion too. The Ruffwear Web Master™ Secure Multi-Function Handled Harness is made for adventure-loving dogs and would be their preferred choice of dog harness over a regular dog harness.
A vegetarian pet owner may choose to feed her dog plant-based dog foods and give only vegetarian treats like this WHIMZEES Natural Toothbrush Dental Dog Chews. She may even choose to fit her dog with a vegan dog collar.
A pet owner who is careful with his daily nutrition will be equally careful with his dog’s nutrition. He may choose to feed his pooch an all-natural, high quality dog food and treats only. Such owners will often choose to feed their dogs a species-appropriate raw diet, like this Big Dog Barf Raw Dog Food (Kangaroo), and an all-natural treat like this Small Batch Freeze Dried Lamb Hearts Cat & Dog Treats.
Similarly, a fashionista doggy mom may spend more time on dog grooming, making sure that her pooch’s hairdo and accessories are as fashionable as hers. On top of her personal grooming kit, she may even have a special doggy grooming kit for her pooch containing the full set of dog brushes and the TropiClean PerfectFur Tangle Remover Spray For Dogs to remove tangles, knots and mats for that shiny, smooth hair.
As pet owners, we are mainly responsible for our doppelganger dogs. We tend to choose dogs that look more familiar to us. Without realizing it, we end up looking for physical features as well as personality traits that resemble our own. We rub off our personality on them and we may even attempt to dress our pooch to look like us. We may laugh at the photos of other doggy owners and their “mini-me”, but on some level, we may all resemble our dogs.
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practicing Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.