Scientists Prove That People Look Like Their Pets

During my career I have noticed that many people resemble their pets, both physically and in terms of personality. I was reminded of this yesterday...


During my career I have noticed that many people resemble their pets, both physically and in terms of personality. I was reminded of this yesterday when I treated a Pug belonging to a friendly, stout man with close-cropped hair, a round face and big-rimmed glasses. They were dead ringers.

The appointment reminded me of a great article I read in The Economist a few years ago. A subscription is required to view the article in its entirety, but here is a relevant excerpt.

Love me, love my dog
Feb 10th 2005
From The Economist print edition

Dogs and their owners really do resemble one another

A FEW years ago, some researchers studying human mating patterns tried the following experiment. They took photographs of individuals in established relationships, mixed them together, and asked their experimental subjects to pair up likely looking couples from the pictures. More often than chance, the photo-couples thus created were also real couples.

This is an example of what biologists call assortative matingthat who chooses whom (and also who is willing to be thus chosen)is to some extent predictable. But despite the corny observation that owners grow to look like their dogs and vice versa, no one really expected the same rules to apply to people and their pets.

But it seems they do. A paper published in the Journal of Ethology by Christina Payne and Klaus Jaffe, of Simn Bolvar University in Venezuela, describes a visit they made to the National Canine Exposition in Caracas. There, they photographed 36 purebred dogs and their 36 owners. The pictures were manipulated to remove the background and the owners’ clothing (fear notthe clothes were just blanked out to create a shot of the head). The prints were then split into six groups of pairs, and each group was shuffled.

Dr Payne and Dr Jaffe asked their volunteers to try to guess which dogs within a group belonged to which human. As in the case of human couples, correct guesses were made significantly more often than chance. It seems, therefore, that owners really do resemble their dogs.

There is now scientific evidence to back up what I and so many people have noticed qualitatively.

I would like your help. I am working on a gallery of photos of pets and people that resemble each other. If you have any such photos, please send them to and be sure to write “photos” in the subject line.

By sending your photos, you grant me permission to publish them online.

Thank you, and have a great Thanksgiving!

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