Does owning a Chihuahua really mean you're an air head?
Have you ever judged someone or made assumptions about their character based on the type of dog they owned? If the answer is yes, you had good reason to do so. A new study found that a person's choice in dog breed is indicative of their personality.
Study author Dr Lance Workman explained, "People tend to report that their dog's personality is quite similar to their own, but we wanted to see if these stereotypes actually stand up to scrutiny."
He found that -- similar to romantic relationships -- people tend to subconsciously match themselves with pets they share something in common with. Workman and co-author Jo Fearon surveyed 1,000 dog owners through an online questionnaire designed to test the so-called "Big Five" traits that govern our personality: extroversion, agreeableness, emotional stability, conscientiousness and intelligence.
"I think when you look for a dog at some level, largely subconsciously, you look for something that is a bit like you," said Workman. "If they fit in they will probably last, and contrary to popular opinion with romantic partners opposites don't attract - you need to have a lot in common if it's going to last. But it also has to fit in with your lifestyle, so if you're going to get a gun dog or a hound dog or pastoral dog you need to be an outdoors type person."
What your choice in dog says about you:
Sporting Dogs: People who owned sporting dogs, like Labrador retrievers and cocker spaniels, appeared more agreeable and conscientious in the survey. "I used to have a cocker spaniel," said Workman. "I'd like to think that's me to a tee."
Herding Dogs: People who owned herding dogs, like German shepherds or sheepdogs, were more extroverted. According to Workman, "I think people pick a dog that fits into their lifestyle. If they're outgoing, they tend to want an outgoing dog. They say, 'Yeah, that sounds like me.'"
Hound dogs: The survey found that people who owned hound dogs, like greyhounds and beagles, were more emotionally stable. "That means calm and consistent," said Workman, noting that President Lyndon Johnson had a beagle.
Toy Dogs: People who owned toy dogs, like Chihuahuas or Yorkshire terriers, were more agreeable, more conscientious and more open to new experiences. "Openness to new experiences is sometimes lumped in with intelligence," said Workman. "There's this view that people who own toy dogs are air heads, so this was quite nice to see."
Non-Sporting Dogs: People who owned utility dogs, like English bulldogs Shar-Peis and Chow Chows, were more conscientious and extroverted.
Terriers: No personality traits stood out in the survey among people who owned terriers, like the Staffordshire bull or the Scottie dog. "Terrier owners were kind of middling," he said. "They weren't high or low on anything in particular."
Working Dogs: Similar to terrier owners, people who owned working dogs, such as Dobermans or schnauzers, had no standout personality traits. "They tend to be agreeable, but most dog owners are," said Workman.
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