People and Their Pets and Personalities- Do They Have Similar Personality Traits?

Every aspect of our lives has a connection to our personality. From the clothes we wear, the profession we engage in, and even the pets we love say something about our personality.

A common theory about personality is known as the The Big 5 Personality Factor. It was developed to try to understand the unique personality characteristics each of us possess. Personality plays a big role in the psychological makeup of a person. The Big Five personality factors is defined by 5 words: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Aggreeableness, and Neuroticism. In reality, people are a combination of these traits and can actually be defined in much greater depth than these 5 characteristics. But for simplicities sake, we can use The Big 5 to take a look at people’s personality and how they match up to the pets they choose. Our personality plays a big part in the choices we make, including the pets we take in as part of our family.

Are You a Dog Person or a Cat Person?

The Big Five Personality Theory Related to People and Their Pets

The Big Five personality traits consist of Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. People’s personality ranges from high to low among these traits.

  • Openness in personality reflects creativity, non conformity, and they may be artsy and have an appreciation for the curiousness in things.
  • Conscientiousness involves people who tend to have a lot of self discipline, are very responsible, and tend strategize their actions. They tend to be less spontaneous.
  • People who are extraverted usually are high energy, vivacious, enthusiastic, outgoing, and friendly
  • Those who are agreeable usually offer affection readily, are very social, are trusting, and look to please others
  • Neuroticism usually have attributes of a personality in stress, anxiety, hypervigilance and other behaviors that display worries and fears.

A study was recently done to compare dog and cat people and how they score on the Big 5 Trait Theory. According to Sam Gosling, PhD who studied approximately 4,500 subjects, these people were asked if they considered themselves a dog or cat person. Using an online survey with 44 questions, the Big 5 personality traits were looked at with the participants. The study was done at the University of Texas at Austin to investigate the personality of people who identified themselves as either “dog or cat people”.

Do you consider yourself

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There are Dog People and There are Cat People

In the survey 46% of the participants categorized themselves as dog-people. 12% identified themselves as cat-people. 28% stated they were dog and cat people. 15% said they were neither.

  • Of the 46% who were dog people 15% showed they were more extroverted. 13% tended to be more agreeable. 11% showed greater tendency to be more conscientious than cat people.
  • 12% of the participants were self proclaimed cat people. About 12% of cat people tended to be more neurotic than dog people and were a little more than 11% exhibited openness than dog people
The actual purpose of the survey will help match the needs of people and pets when considering pet therapy. Personality tests may help create a better match for people in picking the most effective pet for people who would benefit from animal therapy. Nevertheless, there may be real personality related reasons why people choose the pets they do.

What pets do you own?

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People Are Attracted to a Pet that Matches Their Personality Needs

The survey didn’t show great differences between dog and cat people and there are many people who own cats who are extroverted, and many dog people who were not extroverts. What the research does tell us, is that there may be different activities that attract someone to own a dog, or a cat. But what about people who have both in their family? Being extroverted and aggreeable are strong social characteristics. It would make sense that people who are more social may be attracted to a pet that also has strong social needs. Canines are social creatures who will do anything to please their owners Felines tend to be more curious and tend to be less outgoing, especially towards strangers.

Anthrozoology is the study of how people and animals relate to each other. There is a strong psychological connection between people and their pets. Another study done by Michael Roy and Nicholas Christenfeld had participants match pet owner photos with their purebred dogs, using appearance alone, and had an accuracy rate of 67%. These results tended to show that people may pick dogs that resemble themselves since in this study there was no correlation to how long people owned the dog. So the dog and the people couldn't have picked up characteristics from each other.

Do you have more of a dog or a cat personality?

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Our Lifestyle Affects Our Pet Choices

People pick a pet for certain reasons, and it usually expresses something about them. Even certain breeds of dogs and cats say something about the pet owner. Different pets and their attributes can elicit certain feelings from the person. Cats tend to give quiet comraderie, a dog tends to give active friendship. People tend to be attracted to to dogs and cats that mirror our own personalities.
No matter what research shows, there is not a clear delineation between dog and cat lovers and their definitive personality type. Dog and cat owners may not be that different when it comes down to it. Sometimes people are forced to pick a pet due to allergies, or space restrictions. Lifestyle very much affects choices of pet animals.
Pets fulfill an emotional and social need which add to our mental well being. They are part of our family and blend into our home life. They are as much a part of our family as any other member and the bond that we feel with our pet is very strong.

Dogs are social creatures and extroverted people may be more attracted to owning a dog. Because cats are more solitary and don’t travel in packs seem to attract people who are more introverted. Dogs like to be with people. Even going back to evolutionary times, cats are lone hunters, dogs always have traveled in packs, and always need to be in a group.

It also can be noted that people who own cats seem to be different than people who own just dogs or dogs and cats. There doesn’t seem to be too much differentiation between people who own just dogs and people who own dogs and cats in their personalities. But for the people who only owned cats there seemed to be some clear differences. Cat owners were 33% more likely to live by themselves than dog owners were. Cat owners were more likely to live in an apartment. Dog owners are more likely to live in a house, be married, and have a family than people who only owned cats.

People and pet relationships are psychologically complex (not as complex as people and people relationship, though). Those who own more than one pet do so for many reasons that help fill a mixture of needs, love, emotional feelings, companionship, and perhaps even fear of loneliness.

Owning a pet intertwines with our personality, and the psychological rewards we get from sharing our lives with our pets. Our pets reflect many things about ourselves and offer us great rewards that are returned to us in so many ways.   

Personality theories may tell us some things about our psychological selves. What our pets do for us is, bestow a love and loyalty on us that creates a personal and deep bond. What pets do for us is transform our personalities in ways we can never fully understand, we just know they somehow make us better people for having them in our lives.

Comments 60 comments

Rhonda Waits profile image

Rhonda Waits 6 years ago from The Emerald Coast

Wow this is a great hub. I truly enjoyed it. Voted up and awesome. I will give you a hint of what pet person I am.

Have a purrfect day.

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Justsilvie 6 years ago

Very interesting Hub! Enjoyed it. I am a Beagle person hhhmmm ours is a very cute Drama Queen...wonder if she is reflecting. *smile*

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Really interesting Hub!

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 6 years ago Author

People and their pets are so interesting. Glad this hub is enjoyed by everyone too.

P.S. my other hub The History of Bathing from Ancient to Modern Times was nominated in the Top of the Class Contest. I sure would appreciate your vote this week. Thanks

Mrs. J. B. profile image

Mrs. J. B. 6 years ago from Southern California

I am a dog person, a cat person and a bird person... So that might make me what? Crazy? LOL... Great hub. I loved it

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 6 years ago Author

Being an animal lover is a good thing! Thanks for stopping by.

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Fay Paxton 6 years ago

Very nice article, Toknow. I have a beautiful Sheba Inu, but after raising two kids...I just can't get excited. :)

Voted up/useful

b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 6 years ago

I am a Dog Person...I swear I can tell what they are thinking...such personalities. Good Hub, I vote it up!

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 6 years ago Author


Thanks for your vote up. My dogs, and my kids, my cats, my birds, my hedgehog, and my bunny, they make my home fun and put a smile on my face. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

that was fun, i love both cats and dogs, but cats are easier to take care of so they fit into my lifestyle a little better. when i was growing up i absolutely adored my dog sarah, when i was sad she provided my only comfort

epigramman profile image

epigramman 6 years ago

...well I can see why you have 7 million followers - your writing and your astounding variety of topics are hubawesome!!!!!

azure_sky profile image

azure_sky 6 years ago from Somewhere on the Beach, if I am lucky :)

Wonderful hub, as always!!

I love both cats and dogs, but unfortunately my jobs keep me away from home too much, and they wouldn't get the attention and love that they deserve. Someday.....someday!!

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pastella13 6 years ago

This was great to read and really interesting.

If I could, I'd have a houseful of dogs and a couple of cats, but circumstances won't allow. Don't we get so much love from our pets? And they look at us with their big, sad eyes, and we just melt! Voted up.

Best wishes.

ImChemist profile image

ImChemist 6 years ago

Thanks for your amazing hub that i rated up useful.

KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

Great hub. I am a dog person, but I have had cats at various times in my life. I had heard the theory about pets reflecting their owners personality. I can understand how it happens, they mirror the behavior of the one closest to them.

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 6 years ago Author

We have so much to learn about ourselves and our pets. And I think it is most interesting to learn about ourselves through our pets. Thanks for stopping by and for the positive comments.

P.S. my other hub about the History of Bathing from Ancient to Modern Times was nominated for Top of the Class Contest. I would appreciate your vote today. Thanks

kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 6 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi toknowinfo, very interesting and informational hub which i enjoyed reading and learned something has well !

I vote awesome and thumbs up !!!

susannah42 profile image

susannah42 6 years ago from Florida

Loved your hub. Love my dog.

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Wooded 6 years ago

This was very interesting. I really enjoyed it! I love studies like this. Thanks for sharing this.

MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa

toknowinfo – ‘Very interesting’ is certainly the perfect description for this article of yours. What tickles me is that many dog- and cat lovers are a-social with no desire to show affectionate to their fellowmen. Thanks for all this amazing information. Take care!

tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

Enjoyed the fun with a serious undertone. Thanks so much for sharing.

Love and peace


Clare-Louise profile image

Clare-Louise 5 years ago from Birmingham UK

Hi Toknowinfo, great hub! I'm a dog person with cats trying to make them be dogs. that can't be healthy! but like your survey says it's because i don't have the right lifestyle to manage a dog. but i wouldn't really swap my little furry friends all the same!

i'm off to have a look at the bathing hub now...

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States

I thoroughly enjoyed your hub as it was full of some great information and it is a very interesting topic. I have an indoor cat that acts more like a dog and follows me everywhere I go. Since my husband had a stroke and is not very steady when walking we are hesitant to get another dog because he so easily trips and falls. Unfortunately we had to put our dog to sleep a year ago. So, sometimes you might like to have pets but circumstances prevent you from doing so.

Thanks for sharing such great information.

webgain profile image

webgain 5 years ago from Delhi, India

hehe.. interesting hub. beautiful

crystolite profile image

crystolite 5 years ago from Houston TX

Interesting hub and a must read for people that love pets.

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

I am very glad you found this hub interesting. It is amazing to watch the interaction of people with their pets. We all do things for a reason and the pets we choose are no exception.

mecheshier profile image

mecheshier 5 years ago

Great Hub!!!! What fun and very informative. Thank you

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Mecheshier,

Glad you enjoyed this hub. Dogs and people are so interesting, but I think dogs win.

Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 5 years ago from West By God

I was wondering what "neurotic" meant for us who love cats. I have a dog and several cats. All of them have come to me for a home. I grew up with dogs but after I got married to my first husband did I get interested in cats. I have been interested, loved and nursed back to health many cats. Or dog has been nursed to health too. I have hubs on just about all my animal friends and babies.

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi LG,

Of the personality types, you seem like you would score high on openness. Your love and selflessness to care for our furry friends makes me a big admirer of yours. You have so many hubs that I have enjoyed. I will be over to read about your animal stories. Thanks for stopping by.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

I've always loved animals. I've almost always had a cat or two. Various situations have limited my having dogs, but I love them, too. My two most precious cats, who lived to be 17 and died unexpectedly from some sort of toxin exposure, have been gone several years, though, and I haven't gotten another pet. I might at some juncture, but now is not the time.

I like this study of the relationships between pets and owners. My cats were not typical cats and I am not a very typical person. hehe - -

Most interesting.

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Nellieanna, I would love for you to share some of your cat stories. And of course they weren't typical cats!

Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 5 years ago from Oregon

This is a very interesting article with great content, and it has got me thinking about the people I know and the dogs they own. Funny thing is that many people I know have picked pets that possess similar physical characteristics to them, in addition to personality characteristics! There is an old, pear shaped woman with long scraggly hair who walks her dog every day in my neighborhood, and her dog is a longhaired breed with scraggly hair, short legs and squatty body. They were made for each other, I'm sure of it!

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

(smile) - You may have opened a can of cats! hehe

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Jane,

I like when my hubs get you to think. When you look at people and their pets it really can be interesting. I am thinking of doing an article on how people look like their pets. I will gladly take any contributing stories and pictures. Thanks for your story.

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Nellieanna,

I am just getting to know you but I already am enjoying you very much. I am looking forward to knowing you even better. I am sure you have a lot of interesting tails and tales.

pcdriverupdate profile image

pcdriverupdate 5 years ago from VA

funny and interesting. good hub :)

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi PC, Glad you enjoyed reading this hub. Personality is an interesting subjects. Pets are amazing. When you put it together, it really gives you something to think about. Thanks for stopping by and your nice comments.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

I have a leopard tail to complete my leopard print jumpsuit - would that qualify? ;->

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

It sounds like you are your own pet. I would have to know more about your personality when you are wearing the leopard outfit. If you are getting along with yourself, then you probably have an agreeable personality. But if you have some anxiety with the leopard outfit, then you might be showing signs of neuroticism.

Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 5 years ago from West By God

Nellieanna is a trip LOL. She's a good trip though.

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi LG, For sure Nellianna is the best. I really think she is purrfect!

thebluestar profile image

thebluestar 5 years ago from Northern Ireland

I am a dog person, although I do like cats and have owned them in my life time. Researching further, my dogs are always big breeds,2 German Shepherds, Labrador, Greyhound, lurcher, spaniel, what does that tell you about me lol

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Bluestar, I think that tells me you always wanted a horse.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

Give me a hard assignment - this one is too easy! Just check me out in my leopard suit on one of my webpages @ :-> That was about 5 years ago when I was a youngster of 74 - but I still wear it at times. Everything is pretty much the same except I've stopped tinting my hair and let it be its natural platinum.

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Oh Nellie, you are too funny. I noticed how the tiger couldn't take their eyes off of you.! You of course are an EXTROVERT, and obviously the life of hubpages! Great website you have there too.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

I'm a mixture, toknowinfo.

Thanks for the compliment to my website. It's hand-made. LOL

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Nellie, I really enjoyed viewing your website. You always make me laugh.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

That pleases me. I've never quite known how to be funny deliberately like so many witty people are! Making someone laugh is such fun!

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Isn't nice to discover new things about ourselves everyday. I always think the more you can make people laugh, the easier it becomes. So I guess practice will make purrfect for you!

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Terrific hub! It is no wonder that you have over 800 have invented the word "talent" along with the word "creative", and let's not forget the word "fun". toknowinfo, you are a breath of fresh air in my world. Thank you for inspiring me! vocalcoach :)

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Thank VC, you made me blush. I am so glad you enjoy what I do. I will try to continue writing to your expectations.

thebluestar profile image

thebluestar 5 years ago from Northern Ireland

I have never heard it said that horse people look like their horses thou. Thank goodness for that either I would have a spotted bottom or Blues coat would be curly lol

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Bluestar, You are very funny. I think you and Blue are of one heart, so on the inside you look alike.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

Very interesting hub. It was a fun read. My favorite type of animal is actually the polar bear. Too bad I can't have one as a pet; I'm worried they might eat me. lol

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Om, I am glad you don't have a polar bear too. They probably would eat you and that could affect your author score on hubpages.

clark farley profile image

clark farley 5 years ago

Interesting idea, while I know I am a dog person, I am not so sure that I would consider myself a social/friendly personality type.

But prior to our recent acquistion of Una (our Chodsky Pes), we had 2 GSDs over the year, Ola (our first) and then Bella.

As such things work out Ola 'was my dog' (in that she saw me as alpha of the pack) and Bella was 'my wife's dog' (seeing her as alpha).

Thinking about Ola's personality I would say she was a complement to my personality as opposed to (strictly) similar. (In the parlence of the Wakefield Doctrine, Ola was a scottian dog to my clarklike personality and Bella was very rogerian to match my wife's rogerian personality type.)

Nice Hub.

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Clark, It is a nice thought that your dog is a complement to your personality. I knew you would be able t apply the Wakefield Doctrine to dogs. Thanks for sharing your expertise.

graceomalley profile image

graceomalley 5 years ago

So how about people who have parrots?

So people chose dogs that look like them - I've always liked pugs and bulldogs - hate to think what that means about just how attractive i am.

Graet hub.

Megan 2 years ago

Im more of a cat person. I prefer a cat over a dog.

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