Do people really look like their dogs?
Clicking through the New York Times photo montage from the Westminster Dog Show yesterday, the classic question surfaced: Do dog owners resemble their dogs? There was the portly man with the shiny bald head lumbering around with his bulldog, the sleek dame and her whippet, a man resembling an Eastern potentate padding around the green with his Pharoah dog….
It’s no surprise then that a study from the University of California found that it’s true — dogs look like their owners, and owners look like their dogs. Psychologists photographed 45 dogs and their owners separately, then asked judges to guess which dog (of two) belongs to each owner. The judges were extremely accurate at matching — they were right much more often than by chance — but only for purebred dogs. There was also a trend for people and their pets to be rated similarly for friendliness. The researchers conclude that people who buy purebreds deliberately seek an animal that resembles themselves, and perhaps even acts similarly.
As discussed in BLONDES, the same has been found true for some people, especially women, in long-term relationships. They end up with spouses who resemble themselves, either physically or temperamentally. It turns out to be more a matter of comfort than aesthetics. Not everyone looks for a similar-looking mate, but a significant percentage do.
More interesting is the question of whether the type of people who have look-alike canine companions also seek look-alike human companions. On the streets of NYC I see look-alike couples — often two Wrangler-wearing leathermen — swaggering down the street with their identical mini-me pitbulls. So many questions: Did the guys own their dogs before meeting each other? After all, dog owners are more likely to get dates. If so, were the men attracted to each other’s pets before they were attracted to each other? (Or was the initial spark entre chiens?) Is owning the same breed of animal more bonding than owning the same brands of clothes or cars?