Your Pet and Your Personality

(Dr. Iulia Mihai, DVM) Are you considering getting a pet but are finding it hard to choose between a dog, a cat or another pet? A closer look at your personality may influence or assist in your decision. Or if you already have a pet, read on to see how much your pet and your personality match!

It seems that there is a connection between human personalities and that of animals with whom they live together. This is why psychological traits could help us when we decide to make a furry or slimy friend.

According to studies, it looks like your pet reflects your personality! In general, cats are preferred by creative people, and dogs are a favorite of disciplined people.

Scientists have analyzed these aspects and defined what personality traits dog and cat lovers have. In 2010, a study performed by the American Psychological Association on 4,565 participants found that conscientious, extroverted, and agreeable people prefer dogs, while neurotic and open people prefer cats. [1]
  • Conscientiousness - a trait that highlights the tendency to be responsible.
  • Extroversion - describes positive and energetic people.
  • Agreeableness - includes attributes such as trust, altruism, and kindness.
  • Openness - highlights traits such as curiosity, passion for art, and creativity.
  • Neuroticism - defines characteristics such as predisposition to anxiety or worry.

(I always wondered why I prefer cats…)

In my experience, people who prefer dogs are active and always ready for action! You can't sit in bed or in front of the TV all day if you have at least one dog, unless it is outdoors and has space to run around. Otherwise, dogs need to be taken outside for their daily needs and exercise. Exercise is very important for pets, and an active pet is healthier than a sedentary one.

Of course, we love our pets no matter how compatible their personalities are with ours! I would do anything for my cats! Our bond with our pets can be similar to the bond between a married couple; they love each other and would do anything for one another, and in time, many start to look and/or act similar to their partner.

Pet-Owner Personality Study

One study found that the longer a pet stays with its owner, the more likely it is that the pet will "borrow" from the owner's character.[2] In this study, more than 2,000 pet owners were evaluated for sociability, emotional stability, and sense of humor. The participants were asked to evaluate the same characteristics for their pets.

The results of the study revealed significant similarities between the personalities of the two parties.

The differences appeared between the personalities of the pet owners

  • Fish owners were the happiest;
  • Dog owners were the most distracted;
  • Cat owners were the most reliable and sensitive;
  • Reptile owners were the most independent.

In terms of the sense of humor in pets, the differences were significant also. Of all the pet owners evaluated, the following was reported:

  • 62% of dogs had a good sense of humor
  • 57% of fish
  • 48% of cats
  • 42% of horses
  • 38% of birds
  • 0% of reptiles

It looks like reptiles don't consider anything funny…

The analysis of the answers in this study led the scientists to conclude that people's personality plays an important role when they decide to share their life with a pet. People can only live with a pet if there are at least some similarities between their personalities.

The Correlation Between Personality and Relationships with Pets

The relationship between animals and humans is commonly appreciated. However, this connection has been somewhat neglected in the psychological community, and more research on this topic would certainly provide interesting data.

But why is our personality related to that of our pet?
Selecting a pet is a natural and instinctive inclination of people. An agitated and energetic person will almost always choose a dog that has the same temperament, while a tranquil or phlegmatic individual will choose a calm and quiet dog. People make these choices unconsciously.

Given that humans and their dogs have shared a relationship for at least 15000 years, it is no wonder that the dog's personality has been shaped by human traits.

Pets have the ability to read and create complementarity with our emotions. If a person is very anxious, their pet understands this and often becomes anxious. How many times have you had to take your pet out from under the bed or couch before going to the vet?

If the anxiety is chronic, your pet may also develop chronic anxiety. Pets in households where there is a lot of stress will often have behavioral problems, which can be attributed to the lack of energy of the owners.

Pets (especially dogs) are also believed to be empathetic. The closer the owner-pet relationship is, the greater the intensity of the empathetic response. Dogs often try to calm their upset owner, while cats always seem to know where it hurts.

Experts say that it is more common for pets to acquire personality traits from their owners, but this does not mean that it is not possible for dogs' emotions and behavior to be transferred to humans.[3]

The dog's anxiety can lead to the owner's anxiety. They feel powerless to alleviate the anxious, obsessive, or compulsive behavior expressed by their pet. If the pet gasps, breathes loudly, barks incessantly, etc. can cause stress to the owner. Therefore, the owner will somehow adopt the dog's behavior.

The Personality of Dog Lovers

According to a study, dog lovers are slightly more responsible than cat lovers, and their personality is defined by the following characteristics: [4]

  • Discipline
  • A strong sense of duty
  • Good planners

It has also been found that dog lovers are a bit more extroverted than cat lovers.
People who say they love dogs more tend to be more lively, energetic, open-minded, and inclined to follow the rules.

Frontline Spot On conducted a study on the owner's personality and the breed they own. The results were as follows:[5]

  • People who owned a Yorkshire terrier described themselves as the happiest, laughing a lot in one day.
  • Golden retriever owners had a more advanced level of education, 1/4 had a Master's or Doctoral degree.
  • Those who had a Chihuahua said they spend most of their time with their puppies.
  • Dalmatian owners pampered their dogs and spent more money on delicacies and toys compared to the average spending by owners of other breeds. They were also more likely to own a sports car.
  • French bulldog owners described themselves as "the biggest rockers". They also had the tendency to say that their pet knows what they are thinking.
  • In the case of Labrador owners, these people were more likely to be single.
  • Bulldogs owners often stated that "they are involved in a relationship, but they want to break things off."
  • Pugs owners often said they had happy marriages and they also declared the highest incomes among those surveyed.
  • On the other hand, those who had German dogs were the lowest paid.

Another study, conducted by psychologists Lance Workman and Jo Fearon on 1,000 dog owners, highlighted the associations between specific personality traits and the possession of a dog of a certain breed.[6] They divided the dogs into seven categories:

  1. Gun dogs, such as Pointer, Weimaraner
  2. Hounds - Beagle, Dachshund
  3. Working dogs - Boxer, Great Dane
  4. Toy dogs - Chihuahua, Yorkie
  5. Utility dogs - Dalmatian, Bulldog
  6. Pastoral dogs - German shepherd, Collie

The results of the study were as follows:

  • Chihuahua owners had high scores in terms of openness (they were more open to new things).
  • Labrador retriever owners had the most pleasant personalities.
  • Owners of German Shepherds, Collies, or Bulldogs were the most extroverted.
  • The most emotionally stable people tended to own hunting dogs such as Beagles or Afghan greyhounds.

According to these studies, it is possible to make accurate predictions about an individual’s personality just by knowing what dog breed they own.

The Personality of Cat Lovers

Cat lovers are often considered more introverted and sensitive, with broader views and a tendency towards non-conformity.

Cat people tend to also have the following traits:

  • They are more introverted - Instead of going out with a large group of people, cat lovers often prefer to spend their evening at home with their little felines. They avoid crowded and noisy places, choosing to enjoy peace.
  • They are more sensitive - Cat lovers are more empathetic, understanding very well the emotions another person is going through.
  • They prefer less demanding activities - cat lovers prefer to read a book while enjoying their tea, instead of climbing a mountain or running a marathon.
  • They don't like rules - The personality of cat lovers is also noticeable by the fact that they don't like rules. They question the rules and get them through their own filter before accepting or rejecting them.
  • They are more curious and creative - cat lovers are more educated and get better results on intelligence tests. This does not necessarily mean that cat lovers are smarter than those who love dogs. They just tend to be more curious, which makes them more creative.

Share with us in the comments - does your personality seem to match that of your pet’s?


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