Think You Share a Personality With Your Pet?

A new British study says you and your dog may share a sense of humor.

ByABC News
January 14, 2009, 10:58 AM

LONDON, Oct. 31, 2007 — -- Queen Elizabeth and her beloved corgis, all five of them; Winston Churchill and his World War II companion Rufus the poodle; and Paris Hilton, rarely seen without her tiny teacup Chihuahua. We love our pets. And just like married couples, over time many of us start looking like them.

But can our four-legged friends and other pets share other traits as well? A new British study, the first of its kind, finds that the longer an animal has been with its owner the more likely the animal is to pick up the owner's characteristics. As part of the study, which continues for the next six months, pet lovers are asked to fill out a survey online describing what they are like and their pets' traits.

So far 2,500 pet lovers have responded to the study's author, professor Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. Although it's still a work in progress, Wiseman said he has already drawn some deductions from the data.

"What we've seen across the board, whether it's cat owners or dog owners, is amazing personalities between those two," Wiseman told ABC News. "So if you have someone [who] has a good sense of humor, they are claiming their animal also has that sense of humor. Someone who is outgoing has extrovert cat or dog. So a lot of similarity between owners and their pets.''

So, what kind of conclusions can the professor make so far?

"When you look at the data, you see that dog owners are spontaneous and fun loving, cat owners tend to be emotionally sensitive and independent and reptile owners don't care too much for other people. They are very much independently minded.''

Can animals really have humanlike characteristics? According to Wiseman they absolutely can.

"They're surrounded by their animals, they devote their lives to them. Well maybe they're having a big impact on the way they think and behave," he said.

Wiseman says what we might be looking at is perceived personality.

"It could be that some cats are not as fun loving as dogs. Dogs are more playful. It could be that dogs are not as independent as cats here might be some truth to it," he said "The other possibility is we're looking at random behavior and we're reading meaning into it. We're seeing human traits that are simply not there."

One of the most surprising results came from fish owners.

"About 60 percent of fish owners claim that their fish have a very good sense of humor."

Fish are funny?

Wiseman said, "Apparently fish are hilarious. If you spend time with fish, the greatest percentage of owners who had a great sense of humor are people who had fish."