I found the studies in this sponsored post, written on behalf of Sainsbury’s Pet Insurance, very interesting. Although the conclusions don’t apply to mixed breeds, I was nevertheless happy to read what was said about the personality and brainpower of owners of small dogs. Who knew that Sir Isaac Newton had a Pomeranian?

However, I do not resemble Frankie in the slightest. Never did, never will.


By Natasha French

We’re all familiar with the idea that people look like their dogs; it’s even been proved by scientists in the U.S. and the U.K.  But here’s a new twist. Are you intelligent? Sociable? Kind?  New research shows that your choice of canine is a clue to your character, too.

And the results may surprise you. The owners of Chihuahuas and other “handbag dogs” beloved by celebrities such as Paris Hilton and former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell are apparently the most intelligent, according to British psychologist Lance Workman. Dr. Workman, who conducted his research at Bath University, came to this conclusion after questioning more than 1,000 dog owners about their character traits.

The dog breeds were grouped into seven categories: gun dogs (e.g. Golden retriever), hound dogs (e.g. Greyhounds; Beagle), terriers (e.g., Staffordshire bull), utility dogs (e.g., Bulldogs), pastoral dogs (e.g. German shepherd, Border collie), toy dogs (e.g., Chihuahuas) and working dogs (e.g., Dobermans).

Extroverted individuals matched up with utility or pastoral dogs such as bulldogs and German Shepherds, whereas those owners who fell into the category of “emotionally stable” were more suited to hound dogs, known for their consistent temperaments.

Working dogs tend to find owners who score above average on agreeableness and intelligence, while gun dogs like Labradors are the breed of choice for friendly folk.

Dr. Workman said, “One of the great things was that toy dog owners, who are often seen as airheads, came out pretty much on top when it came to openness, creativity and intelligence,” adding, “Isaac Newton had what we’d today call a toy dog, a Pomeranian.”

The psychologist compared picking a pet to looking for a romantic partner. “If they fit in, they will probably last. But it also has to fit in with your lifestyle. If you are going to a get a gun dog, you need to be an outdoor type of person.”

He added: “Just like romantic partners, if your personalities match well, then things are far more likely to work out in the long run. The notion of ‘opposites attract’ is unfortunately a recipe for disaster!”

Perhaps it’s no coincidence then, that dating sites such as eHarmony not only profile personalities using the same attributes, such as agreeableness and emotional stability, but also look for matches between energy levels and lifestyle.

It means that there is hope that one day questionnaires not unlike those used on dating sites could help match pet-owners with suitable breeds. It might not only lead to happier pets and pet-owners, but also reduce the number of abandoned pets.

And what about me, you may ask. Well, that would be telling. Suffice it to say I’ve graduated from an adorable Irish terrier (at age six) to a mad, cornflake-colored English setter, the dog that ate the house, to two sweet, air-headed Cavalier King Charles spaniels who were ideal for a household full of small children, to a beautiful but eminently sensible black Labrador, the happy companion of many muddy walks and rides. Does that mean I have multiple personalities?

Au contraire. I’d maintain that Dr. Workman ought to add another level to his research: different dogs for different life stages.

Regardless of your pet’s personality type — or yours — don’t forget to take out pet insurance, which could cover your cat or dog against loss, theft and accident and illness. Vet’s fees can be extremely expensive, especially if your animal is diagnosed with a chronic condition or needs surgery.

22 thoughts on “What Your Choice of Dog Breed Says About You”

  1. Interesting post – I was happy to see that this writer focused more on all breeds and various aspects of their personalities. Most of the posts I’ve seen focused on individuals who were more likely to choose aggressive breeds.

    1. Yes, that’s true. I’m also happy that there are now programs in shelters, such as ASPCA’s Meet Your Match, that do personality profiling.

  2. I suppose it’s like many other things, everything really comes down to being relative. I do love the author’s suggestion though of different dogs for different life stages – how often true!

  3. I’d previously read that many people get dogs with opposite personalities – to balance themselves out, perhaps. Hence, I have Beagles – very outgoing, rarely meet a stranger and sometimes (OK, often) noisy; I am an introvert who treasures quiet and observation. Very interesting post!

    1. I had a similar idea. But I suppose any friendly dog — or even a shy dog, like Frankie — is a social lubricant. Frankie is such a tease; he’s so cute and looks so perky walking that everyone wants to talk to him. They have to settle for me.

  4. It’s interesting research to be sure but I don’t know if such ideas are truly universal. Or perhaps the owners of mixed breeds are exempt? My dog and I don’t really have anything in common. If someone was to match a breed to my personality they would probably come up with a dog who is much less energetic and much less outdoorsy!

    1. Yes, mixed breeds are exempt from the study. I don’t think that Frankie and I have much in common except for certain antisocial tendencies.

  5. Very interesting! I’m not sure “agreeable” is a word people who know me would typically use, though I don’t mind the bit about good intelligence 😉

  6. Hmmm… so the study was conducted by asking people about their own personality traits? I call that “most intelligent” label into question then. Unless we’re sitting them down for an IQ test, I can’t believe that the Paris Hiltons of the world are always our best and brightest!

    I like the “different dogs for different life stages” idea – I think that’s probably true of a lot of people. (Also, since the study excluded mixed breeds, I propose we just say that the owners of mixed breeds are pretty awesome. Haha.)

    1. Pup Fan, I’m with you! Paris Hilton’s publicist must have a monopoly on any chihuahua-related articles. I think they should have just stuck with Isaac Newton to prove the smart toy owner point.

      And yes, mixed breed owners are awesome. As are our dogs 🙂

      1. Ha! Thanks for coming by. Sorry it took so long to approve this comment. My spam filter was being overzealous.

  7. I was doing just fine with this article until I got to the description of the breed I yearn for–the King Charles Cavalier Spaniel. Airhead? And here I thought they were cheerful and easy going.

    1. Ah, generalizations! One of the least airheaded people I know, Mary-Alice Pomputius of DogJaunt.com, has a Cavalier King Charlies spaniel (who is a complete sweetheart).

  8. I would say I am not outgoing but I like the clingiest and most affectionate breeds in general and also breeds with lower energy levels

    urban hounds

  9. Very interesting. I can’t say that I buy the idea of small dog fanciers being “more intelligent” but definitely can see where certain personalities could be drawn to certain breeds.

    I also agree that one could be drawn to different breeds at different times in their life. Or that their reasons for liking a specific breed could change. When I was a little girl thru young adulthood, I always dreamed of having a German Shepherd. I have no doubt that it was because I thought it would make me feel safe and protected (something that I didn’t feel as a child). I still love Shepherds but find myself attracted to most large breeds now ~ perhaps I’m still seeking safety and security…. Maybe things don’t change as much as we think they do!


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