While pets don’t share the same genetic characteristics as their owners, it’s been suggested that most cats and dogs resemble their owners’ character traits. Over time, cats and dogs adopt similar behaviors to their owners and vice versa.
Various studies have been conducted on the subject. In 2019, two University of Michigan academics interviewed 1,600 dog owners of 50 different breeds, categorizing the dogs by gender and age groups. The owners were asked about both their and their dogs’ past and present personality traits. Results revealed that dogs’ characters changed over the years, developing characteristic features influenced by the lifestyle and environment they experienced with their owners. It is not clear how the similarity began; it could be that people prefer owning dogs similar to themselves, or dogs become progressively more like their owners over time.
Similarly, there is no difference in the behavioral similarities between dogs and their owners according to breed. While some studies point to DNA as the source of the behavioral tendencies in dogs, this only applies to stray dogs. Purebred dogs are known to be more fearless and aggressive, while neutered dogs and females are more fearful and calm.
The resemblance between pets and their owners’ characters also applies to cats. A 2019 study discovered that cats learn to imitate their owners’ character traits over time. The study questioned 3,000 cat owners about their personality traits based on the psychology Five Factor Model, including openness, responsibility, extroversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability. The owners’ dominant traits were also frequently present in their cats. For instance, cats of extroverted people tended to enjoy playing and interacting with humans, while cats of people with low emotional stability were likely to have behavioral problems.
This similarity between pets and their owners’ characters is similar to that between parents and children. Cats and dogs pick up on how they’re treated by their owners, and this mutual interaction results in pets mirroring their owners’ character traits.
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