To look at somebody’s dog is to know them. Well, that’s the opinion of a group of dog researchers anyway. They took a thousand dog owners at random and sent them a questionnaire about the breeds of dog they owned and their personality. They then tried to correlate different breeds of dog according to different personalities. (It’s good to know your taxes aren’t being wasted on pointless research).
Most psychologists agree that there are five big personality traits: agreeableness, neuroticism, conscientiousness, extraversion and intelligence. Some people are easy to get along with, others are constantly worried about what other people think, others like to be the centre of attention – you get the picture.
What the researchers found was very interesting: people with certain personality traits were attracted to certain kinds of dog.
A herding dog is a dog that was specifically bred by farmers to help around the farm. According to Royvon, they include German shepherd and sheepdogs. It turned out that people who chose these dogs tended to be more extroverted. They were more outgoing and more likely to want to spend time around other people.
So should you get a herding dog? If you’re the type of person who’s always up for a party or for going out for drinks, then they just might be the dog for you.
Working dogs and hounds tend to be particularly emotionally stable creatures. They’re always in a jolly mood, no matter how bad you might feel inside. As a result, working dogs are perfect for people who score highly on the neuroticism measure of personality. They’re great for taking the edge off when somebody has been horrible to you at work, or you’re worried about what one of your friends might have been saying about you behind your back.
Many famous people throughout history have owned working dogs to help them cope. Lyndon B Johnson, American president following the assassination of JFK, owned a beagle. He once said that they were calm and consistent: just what you need when you’re trying to run a country.
Should you buy a small dog? It all depends on what kind of person you are. Small dogs – or toy dogs as they’re sometimes known – include breeds like Yorkshire terriers and Chihuahuas. The people who chose these kinds of dogs tended to be the easiest to get along with and the most likely to avoid conflict. In a way, that makes sense: you don’t want a massive pooch as a sign of aggression. The researchers said that the owners of toy dogs also seemed to be more intelligent and richer by their measures. It was a surprising result, given the fact that most people see the owners of small dogs as bimbos. Perhaps they’re just super-smart bimbos.
Non-sporting dogs are bred mainly for their appearance. As a result, they’re not particularly athletic, even if they like to run around the park from time to time.
Owners of these dogs, according to the study, were more extroverted and intelligent than most.