Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

Why do people look (and act) like their dogs?

by Take Two®

Dogs and their owners arrive to attend the first day of Crufts dog show at the NEC on March 7, 2013 in Birmingham, England. Oli Scarff/Getty Images

You've seen it.  Someone with a few extra pounds, walking a dog that's a little obese.  Or a woman with long, strawberry blonde hair, walking a golden retriever.

That we often look like our dogs is a well-documented phenomenon, but believe it or not, there are actually scientists who research this.

In a piece in the current issue of The Atlantic, Sarah Yager notes that there is an often-repeated experiment where subjects are shown pictures of dogs, and then of people.  They are asked to match the canine with the human, and they consistently do much better than chance would predict.

And it's not just looks.  Dogs can take on the behavior of the humans they live with.  Our earnest co-host, A Martinez, confesses that he's a bit of a neat freak.  He reveals that his dog exhibits similar behaviors, using her nose to carefully line up her toys in a nice, neatly spaced row.

It's fairly clear that this 'look like your dog' thing works both ways. Researchers say we may select animals that reflect our physical and emotional characteristics.  Or, as in the case of the tough guy with a pit bull, we may select a pet that mirrors the image we try to project.  

But our dogs also take on our behaviors, exhibiting what scientists call “automatic imitation." For example, if you yawn, your dog may yawn with you.

And here's something for Mr. Martinez, who also admits to full-on smooching with his pooch, to consider: According to Yager, researchers measured microbes on dog owners who were also parents. They found germs from the subjects' children on their skin, but not near as many as they found from their dogs.

RELATED: Check out KPCC listeners and their pets!

How are you and your pets alike? Snap a photo and share it with us on Facebook or on Twitter @taketwo using the hashtag #KPCCzoo



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