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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Emerging Science Note/Face Like a Dog

Air Date: Week of

Living on Earth’s Cynthia Graber reports on a new study that shows that people and their purebred dogs do tend to resemble one another.


CURWOOD: Just ahead: crossing into controversy, the jaguar heads north and stirs calls for its reintroduction to the U.S. First, this Note on Emerging Science from Cynthia Graber.


GRABER: It’s been noted that dog owners and their dogs often look alike. And now, according to a study published in Psychology Review, that observation just may be accurate – if the dog’s a purebred.

Researchers at the University of California at San Diego took photos of 45 dog owners and their pets at three different locations. In the group were 25 purebreds and 20 mutts. The owners were photographed facing forward from the waist up, and their pooches’ pictures were whole-dog views, also facing forward. Then, 28 judges were given photos of one owner and two dogs and asked to match the owner with his or her canine companion. The judges were also given six traits for rating both humans and animals, including hairiness, size, attractiveness, and perceived friendliness.

If more than half the judges selected the correct dog and owner pair, it was considered a match. The judges were able to match only seven of the 20 mutts with their owners. But when it came to the purebreds, judges got it right for 16 out of 25 dogs. The judges were able to choose the correct matches, even when the owners and their dogs’ physical attributes didn’t fully coincide.

Also, length of ownership was not a factor in matches, possibly dispelling the myth that people and their pets grow to resemble one another over time. In the end, researchers think that because humans are able to be very specific when it comes to choosing purebreds, they simply tend to choose ones that somehow look like them. That’s this week’s Note on Emerging Science, I’m Cynthia Graber.

CURWOOD: And you’re listening to NPR’s Living on Earth.

ANNOUNCER: Support for NPR comes from NPR stations, and: Aveda - an Earth-conscious beauty company committed to preserving natural resources and finding more sustainable ways of doing business. Information available at Aveda.com; The Noyce Foundation, dedicated to improving Math and Science instruction from kindergarten through grade 12; The Annenberg Foundation; and, The Kellogg Foundation, helping people help themselves by investing in individuals, their families, and their communities. On the web at wkkf.org. This is NPR, National Public Radio.

[MUSIC: Bjorgulv Straume “The Devil’s Tune” DEVIL’S TUNE (Northside Records – 1999)]



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