Pet Dogs Found to Resemble Owners in the Eyes, KGU Professor Publishes in British Journal Anthrozoös

Public Relations Office        October 26, 2013

Prof. Sadahiko Nakajima, Department of Integrated Psychological Sciences, School of Humanities at Kwansei Gakuin University, has discovered that dogs resemble their owners in the eyes, and will publish his research findings in the peer-reviewed British journal Anthrozoös (December 2013 issue, electronic version published on October 25). Details of the paper are: Nakajima, S. (2013). “Dogs and Owners Resemble Each Other in the Eye Region.” Anthrozoös, Volume 26, Number 4, pp. 551–556.

Prof. Nakajima, who specializes in animal psychology, in 2009 published his research findings on physical similarities between dogs and their owners. Since then he has continued research into dogs and owners, and has newly identified that dogs and owners have similarities in their eyes, among all the other facial parts.

In addition to Prof. Nakajima’s 2009 report, studies on physical similarities between dogs and owners have been conducted in the United States, Venezuela and elsewhere. But Prof. Nakajima’s most recent finding is novel in that it identifies the facial part that is most significant for a third person to judge objectively whether there is in fact a facial resemblance between dog and owner. Furthermore, whereas studies to date did not entirely eliminate the possibility of overall impressions or biases—such as, “Tough-looking owners have ferocious-looking dogs, sweet-looking owners have cute small dogs, etc.—affecting perceived resemblance, the present study is innovative in that it virtually eliminates such possibilities by basing its evaluation of similarity on photographs that include the eyes only.

Prof. Nakajima says that if future studies reveal more about what features of the eyes play major roles in perceived similarity, such knowledge could shed light on why dogs and owners look alike, for instance, whether dogs and their owners share characteristics prescribed by genetics (e.g. eye color), not experience, which would suggest that owners are selecting dogs with physical resemblances to themselves, as opposed to dogs and owners somehow becoming more like each other over time.