Just been out for a walk with ‘our’ dog – we don’t possess a dog but we look after the lovely Susy from time to time when her owner’s away on holiday – see photo on the newsletter .  She’s a beautiful roan cocker spaniel and a really sweet-natured dog to have around.

I’m more dog-centric than usual at the moment because we’re out walking her and meeting all sorts of breeds of dogs and their owners, of course.  I find myself thinking of those dog shows you get at village fetes, when the prize goes to the dog and owner who look most like each other – heaven help you if you own a Rottweiler and you win!

So, these musings have caused me to recall a study conducted by the Psychology Dept at Bath Spa University; this study was designed to see if members of the public were able to predict the type of dog people owned, just by looking at a photo of the owner.

The results were intriguing – researchers found members of the public were correct between 50% and 60% of the time, when chance suggested they should have a success rate of around 33%.  Interesting, eh?   Now, practicalities do come into it – if you’re a big strapping man and like going for long walks in the country, you’re not going to buy a dinky Chihuahua like Paris Hilton, are you?   So there is some obvious predictability.

However, what was interesting is that the public wrongly thought that the breed could predict the intelligence or personality of the owner.  They judged bull terrier owners to be less intelligent, while those who had poodles were thought to be nicer.  When personality tests were conducted, there were no significant personality differences.  By the way, if you’re an owner of a bull terrier, this might help you to understand why people treat you the way they do!

So what does this study show?  Professor Workman of Bath Spa University – “You shouldn’t judge a person by their dog, but we all do.”   I would suggest that it’s not just the dogs we judge others by, it’s any number of things from clothing to hair style to body mass to regional accent.  So the moral of this little story?  Acknowledge that we all judge others to some degree (there are some good reasons for this – more on that in another article) – AND be certain to keep an open mind because it’s easy to get it wrong.  Next time you see a bull terrier owner, assume he’s a VERY smart guy!

So back to Susy……….I wonder what box people put me in when I’m walking a daft, floppy-eared cocker spaniel who’s tearing round at 90 miles an hour, chasing rabbits?  Don’t answer!!