Dog Breeds Apart

Nadia Crighton uncovers what science says about dog breeds and human personalities.

Over the years there have been countless studies on the nature of the varying dog breeds around the world and the personality differences between dog owners and non-dog owners. In fact, pet owners are shown to have better self-esteem and are more agreeable.

More recently, some of these studies have revealed the link between human personalities and the actual breed of dog people choose to spend their life with.

When considered, many invest in certain dog breeds for life. It’s not uncommon for Labrador lovers to always have a happy Labby sharing the family home. In many cases, even growing up as a child in a household alongside a particular breed, will lead to owing and enjoying that breed later down the track.

But what does science say about the link between personalities and dog breeds? A study by Jo Fearon and Psychologist Dr Lance Workman from Bath Spa University in collaboration with the British Kennel Club and OnePoll explored just that…does the breed of dog you choose reflect in your personality?

An online questionnaire was completed which outlined personalities traits such as; openness, agreeableness, extroversion, anxiety (neuroticism) and conscientiousness. These are what Psychologists call the major five traits, which make up the human personality. The survey also detailed the type of breed that was owned. The breeds were then split into seven groups being;

  • *Gundogs
  • *Hound-dogs,
  • *Pastoral (eg, German Shepherd, Border Collie)
  • *Terrier
  • *Toy
  • *Utility (Bulldog, Dalmatian)
  • *Working (Dobermann, Boxer).

*For full breed list head over to //www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/breed/ and browse by breed group.

The results were very interesting. It seems owners of Pastoral and Utility breed groups were more extroverted. Owners of Gundogs and Toy breeds seemed to be more agreeable while owners of Utility, Toy and Gundogs more conscientious. Hound Dog breed owner seemed to be the most emotionally stable while Toy dog breed owners seemed to be more open to new experiences and more imaginative, which completely abolishes the misconception some have towards those who own Toy-breeds (well… celebrities anyway).

Dr Workman also mentioned that the study indicated that we could make predictions about human personality based on the breed of dog they choose to own. Seemingly, certain personality types are drawn to certain breeds. Just imagine if first-time dog owners could be given a survey and shown what breed perfectly matched their personality!

Obviously, environment and lifestyle also have an impact on the types of breeds people are attracted towards. Outdoor loving people tend to be attracted to more energetic breeds, while older people are attracted to smaller dogs. There are many who will link certain dog breed traits with human traits; similarly some will say that some owners even look like their dogs! But the science is still out on this one.

But what about the notion that opposites attract and for those own more than one breed (with completely different traits) could be a major mix of personalities? One thing, however, is pretty clear, humans are attracted to certain dog breeds because of their characteristics and perhaps that is someway linked to our own personalities, experiences, environment and lifestyle. Food for thought!

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