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Birds of a feather flock together? Perceived personality matching in owner–dog dyads

By Borbála Turcsán, Friederike Range, Zsófia Virányi, Ádám Miklósi, Enikő Kubinyi

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Abstract

Partner choice is strongly affected by similarity in physical and psychological characteristics. Although there is a popular belief that dogs share similar personality characteristics with their owners, no studies have yet addressed the topic. Here, we tested for associations between the dog and owner personality in two countries (Austria and Hungary) and found significant positive correlations between owners and their dogs in all the five investigated personality dimensions (neuroticism, extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness). This similarity could not be attributed solely to the owners’ self-projection, since the similarity in the first four dimensions was also significant when an independent peer person assessed the dog instead of the owner. The similarity was not affected by the length of ownership, however, we found cultural differences in the correlation pattern; more and stronger correlations were found in the Hungarian sample. Moreover, in multi-dog households the dogs’ similarity patterns complement each other, suggesting possible differences in the dogs’ role. Our results provide the first evidence that dogs do resemble their owners suggesting potential applied utility as well as indicating that dog–owner relationship could be a useful model of human social relationships.

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 140
Issue 3
Pages 154-160
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2012.06.004
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Tags
  1. Culture
  2. Dogs
  3. owners
  4. Personality