Feb. 2, 2006 — -- He's always happy to see her, and ready to smother her with kisses the second she walks in the door. He's loyal, irresistibly sweet and always up for snuggling.
Is it any wonder that many women would date their dogs?
According to a survey of dog owners by the American Kennel Club, nearly 90 percent of women found at least one quality in their dog that they'd like to see in their significant other, while 34 percent of the women questioned agreed with the statement: "If my dog was a man, he'd be my boyfriend."
When the question was posed to men, 33 percent said the top canine quality they wished that women had was "always being in a good mood." Fewer men -- 23 percent -- agreed with the statement: "If my dog was a woman, she'd be my girlfriend."
"We know people love dogs, but we conducted this survey to find out just how much this fixation with Fido affected even their interpersonal relationships with other people," said Gail Miller, spokeswoman for the AKC. "Dogs are so important to their owners that they can, in many instances, make or break a relationship."
Among the top canine qualities women look for in men are:
Additional canine qualities men look for in women:
When it came to meeting women, 58 percent of men surveyed said a puppy was a foolproof babe magnet in the park (only 25 percent said a baby was better). Forty-six percent of women said they'd stop and talk to anyone with a cute puppy.
When it comes to dating dog lovers, make sure their dog is a match, too. Sixty-six percent of dog owners said they wouldn't even consider dating someone who didn't like their dog. But don't like the dog too much -- 14 percent admitted they might continue dating someone they didn't like that much just to spend time with their dog.
If you plan to date and have a dog, be prepared for some conflicts. The survey found that one in seven dog owners (15 percent) said that their significant other had become jealous of their relationship with their dog.
Reasons for the jealousy included: "Because I dedicate so much time to my pet" (43 percent); "The dog likes me better" (33 percent); "I prefer to cuddle with my dog rather than my mate at night" (12 percent); and, "Things have been tense ever since I did more for the dog's birthday than my significant other" (3 percent).
When it comes to walking down the aisle, dog owners have a special bond. The survey found that 18 percent said they either had included (or would include) their dog in their wedding ceremony. That trend is likely to continue, as those under 30 are 17 percent more likely than those 60 and older to say "I do" with their dog by their side (27 percent to 10 percent).
And what a cozy honeymoon that would make for -- 21 percent of dog owners said their pet regularly slept in bed with them, with women more likely than men to allow the practice (25 percent to 16 percent). Forty-four percent of both men and women admitted their dogs got more room in bed than they did.
If all that crowded sleeping leads to a divorce, be prepared for a battle. Sixty percent of dog owners said if they split up with their significant other, they'd definitely get the dog. Married dog owners were more than twice as likely as their single counterparts to say they'd have to call in Judge Judy to settle ownership (14 percent to 6 percent).