Do Tough Guys Have Tough Dogs? New Study Says Yes.

I read this article about a week ago, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. You’ve probably heard of the truism that dogs’ personalities resemble or even mirror those of their owners. A fascinating study out of the University of Leicester in England indicates that people who are unpleasant are much more likely to own dogs who are more aggressive.  In other words, antisocial people are drawn to antisocial companions.

The indicator of how agreeable the people were came from personality tests. Asking them what kind of dog they owned was the easy part.


The research team from the University of Leicester’s School of Psychology found that younger people and people with low levels of agreeableness — which means that they’re typically less concerned about others’ well-being and may be suspicious, unfriendly and competitive — were more likely to prefer dog breeds that were rated more aggressive, such as bull terriers or boxers.

Unexpectedly, the study authors also noted a small effect suggesting that people who liked aggressive dogs showed signs of conscientiousness — being careful, reliable and thoughtful about their actions.

A little editorializing: in my experience, no breed can be broadly categorized as more or less aggressive than others. Aggression comes about from training, time, and experience much more reliably than breeding. As a result, I’d quibble with the blanket assertion of the study’s conclusion, but there is the reality that certain breeds are far more commonly socialized toward aggression by the aforementioned unpleasant owners.

So if you find someone is being unusually rude to you or someone else and they are always acting that way? Don’t offer to take care of their dog when they go away on vacation.

Photo Credit: Feature image from flickr by psyberartist.

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