Question of the Day: Why Do Some People Look like Their Pets?
We’ve all seen the funny memes about pet owners and their four-legged best pals who so closely resemble each other, that it’s hard to ignore the reality of it. Spend enough time in dog parks and you’ll start to see it for yourself; the woman whose hairstyle matches her poodle’s fluffy fur, or the man whose thin face and narrow nose are eerily reminiscent of his purebred greyhound’s features.
Since every pet owner knows that his or her pet is the cutest one in the world, it’s certainly not an insult to consider that we may resemble our best pals somewhat. As it turns out, there is actual science behind why some people look like their pets.
The Resemblance Is Real
Behavioral scientists have discovered that some people look so much like their pets, that outside observers can match pictures of them together with surprising accuracy. In one experiment, more than 500 people were shown two sets of photographs; one of real dog-owner pairs, and one with random pairings of dogs and people. The participants were able to correctly identify the dog-owner pairs 80% of the time.
When the eyes of the people or dogs in the above study were covered, the participants’ accuracy fell to around 50%. When only the eyes were shown, their accuracy climbed to 74%. This may be due to the subtle differences in the shapes of the eyes that both the pet and person share.
Why Do People Look like Their Pets?
So if it’s true that some dogs look like their owners, the question then becomes why. It’s possible that people and their dogs grow to look alike slowly over time, much like long-married couples will often end up resembling each other. Lifestyle may also play a role; overweight pet owners tend to have overweight pets, and the runner who jogs with his dog every day is likely to have a fit and lanky dog who resembles him.
A more plausible answer, however, appears to be that some people, either consciously or subconsciously, actually choose a pet who resembles them. There is data to suggest that people prefer a pet with features that are similar to their own, such as people with long hair preferring long-eared dogs (like springer spaniels and beagles) over dogs with short or cropped ears.
Here at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center, we think all of our patients and their owners are beautiful! We hope that the next time someone tells you how much you look like your precious Persian or Pekingese, you take it as a compliment. We look forward to seeing you and your pet soon!