Surly People Tend to Like Fierce Dogs, Study Shows

TUESDAY, May 29 (HealthDay News) -- In a study that supports the belief that dogs match the personality of their owners, British researchers say they found that disagreeable people prefer to own aggressive dogs.

The study included participants who filled out personality tests and also indicated what types of dogs they liked.

The research team from the University of Leicester's School of Psychology found that younger people and people with low levels of agreeableness -- which means that they're typically less concerned about others' well-being and may be suspicious, unfriendly and competitive -- were more likely to prefer dog breeds that were rated more aggressive, such as bull terriers or boxers.

Unexpectedly, the study authors also noted a small effect suggesting that people who liked aggressive dogs showed signs of conscientiousness -- being careful, reliable and thoughtful about their actions.

There was no link between liking an aggressive breed of dog and delinquent behavior, or the possibility that having an aggressive type of dog is a "status display" meant to show off or attract romantic partners, according to lead researcher Vincent Egan.

"This type of study is important, as it shows assumptions are not the whole picture. It is assumed owners of aggressive dogs (or dogs perceived as aggressive) are antisocial show-offs. But we did not find persons who expressed a preference for aggressive dogs had committed more delinquent acts, or reported showing off more," Egan said in a university news release.

"However, we did find a preference for a dog with an aggressive reputation was related to being younger and being lower in agreeableness," he added.

The study was published in the June edition of the journal Anthrozoos.

More information

The Nemours Foundation suggests how to select safe pets for your family.

SOURCE: University of Leicester, news release, May 22, 2012

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