Why Do People Look Like Their Dogs?

(Last Updated On: August 18, 2022)

You’ve probably heard that people look like their dogs before. If you haven’t, there’s no shortage of articles on the internet putting up lists of people who look like their dogs. Obviously, it’s not too difficult to find pictures of people who happen to look like their dogs and pass it off as a representative sample. But you might have had a similar experience with some of your friends, where they seem to look a little bit like their pets–they might even start looking more like their furry friends the longer they have them. So is this really a thing? Do people actually look like their dogs? If that’s the case, why do people look like their dogs?

Yes, People Do Look Like Their Dogs

There are lots of studies that have gone on to show people look like their dogs. It’s been shown a handful of times that people can generally match pictures of dogs to their owners. Multiple studies corroborate this, and many cite a 2009 study testing racially homogenous (IE all human portraits were of the same race) dog-owner pairs as a strong indicator of this. 

As an aside before we go deeper, studies have also found that people look like their cars. Do what you will with that knowledge.

Studies also suggest that dogs not only look like their human owners, but they also act like them too. If you have a dog this probably makes perfect sense to you.

Our resemblance to dogs is a lot more than just “vibes” though. In 2015 a study sought to figure out what actually makes people look like their dog companions. It turns out it’s specifically the eyes. When the eyes of a dog’s face were covered, test subjects were only half as accurate in identifying dog-owner pairs correctly. Performance didn’t change when other parts of the face were covered. The same study also ruled out hairstyles and perceived obesity–which kind of makes sense. Most people don’t style the fur of their dogs before they get them. 

Interestingly, this applies a lot more to purebreds than otherwise. This makes sense if you give it some thought; if a dog owner is going for a purebred they’re picking what they actually want. There’s significantly less choice involved if you’ve committed to adopting a dog.

The Cause

Alright, so we’ve laid out that people do in fact look like their dogs. We’ve even established what specifically makes people look like their dogs. But what makes this actually happen?

For starters, we like things familiar to us. This is more technically called the “mere exposure effect.” Because we’ve seen our own faces a lot (we’re familiar with our own faces), and people generally like things they’re more familiar with, the principle of familiarity holds that people might feel more comfortable with dogs whose faces feel… well familiar to them. This is a long way of saying we’re all narcissists who pick dogs that look kinda like us. 

It makes a little more sense when you think about it, since the average dog outlives the average marriage. If you’re going to be picking a companion that will be around you for that long, you’re going to want to pick one that you’re compatible with. Pointing to predictions using the exposure effect again, your best judge for compatibility might just be what’s also familiar to you. This is also probably why people pick dogs with temperaments similar to theirs–especially when you’re picking a breed of dog known for having a specific temperament. 

Speaking of dogs and owners, see if you know presidents with their dogs here.

About the Author:

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Kyler is a content writer at Sporcle living in Seattle, and is currently studying at the University of Washington School of Law. He's been writing for Sporcle since 2019; sometimes the blog is an excellent platform to answer random personal questions he has about the world. Most of his free time is spent drinking black coffee like water.