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Do Dogs Look Like Their Owners?

By Anahad O’Connor for The New York Times

Best friends they may be, but are man and dog so entwined that they tend to take after one another in appearance?

It is one of those eternal, quirky questions, at least for dog owners. But only recently have scientists taken a close look in actual studies.

In 2004, researchers in San Diego found that subjects in a study were able to correctly match pictures of dog owners with their pets more often than not, but only when the dogs were purebreds. Simple traits like hair and size played a smaller role than things like facial expressions.LookAlike01The same year, a psychologist at the University of South Carolina challenged the findings in a separate study, pointing out flaws in the study designs. When the San Diego researchers countered with a reanalysis that confirmed their initial findings, the debate seemed to be at a standstill.

Earlier this year, a scientist in England joined the fray with a study in which 70 subjects were asked to match pictures of 41 dog owners to one of several breeds. They were able to match successfully more than half the time, far better than chance.

Similar to the San Diego study, the subjects later said they matched mostly by looking for personality traits that they believed the dogs and their owners shared. Scientists suspect that some people look for certain traits or predispositions when choosing a dog that reflect their own personalities.


Some studies argue that dogs can resemble their owners, but the research is debatable.

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