What attracts us to particular pets and breeds?

Sometimes, you just know life wouldn’t be complete without a certain kind of pet in it.

Perhaps you grew up with a favourite breed of dog around, or maybe you don’t have much room, but you love to have something to take care of. Different pets fit different personalities, lifestyles and budgets. One thing’s for sure, whether we choose pets who suit our interests, or simply because we like the look of them, there are pets out there for everyone!

Dog-people and cat-people

How often have you heard someone say that they’re a “dog-or a cat-person?” Well, there may be something in that! Cats and dogs can appeal to different types of personality and, while most of us may love both cats and dogs, some people are strongly inclined towards one or the other. A study2 found that people who identified as ‘dog-’ or ‘cat-people’ showed different personality traits! Which one are you?

Many cat owners admire their cats for their independence, while some dog owners choose their canine companions for precisely the opposite reason – cute dogs can bring out protectiveness and parental instincts in force!

Family friends

Choice of pet can be influenced by a potential owner’s previous pet-owning experience. If you can look back fondly on a childhood filled with the joys of watching your friendly Syrian hamster stuffing his cheek pouches full of seeds, you might wish your children to have the same happy times with their own small furries.

People who grew up without any pets sometimes feel they’d like their own children to experience pet ownership in a way they never got the chance to do and so look for an interactive pet like a family-friendly dog.

A pet for every situation

Not everyone has time or space for a dog and, if you live by a busy road, a cat may not be an option either. The accommodation available – and whether it’s rented or owned – can influence choice of pet. Landlords who don’t permit dogs or cats may allow pets who live within their own accommodation, like fish or reptiles.

Many gardens are suitable for rabbits or guinea pigs, as long as there’s somewhere warm and dry to move their home during cold weather.

New family members must fit in well with the rest of the household, so choosing pets who are likely to be good with children, or of a manageable size or likely temperament, is really important.

How does the media influence the popularity of some pets?

During the early 20th century, the popularity of certain dog breeds was found to increase for up to 10 years after the release of movies where those breeds were featured in a positive way3. Think: 101 Dalmatians, and Lassie Come Home. (It’s worth noting here that not all dogs in the movies would be as easy to live with as their celebrity persona might have you believe!)

Although canine movie stars don’t have such a powerful influence nowadays, celebrities’ pets and dogs on TV and on social media have been associated with a rise in popularity of some breeds.

Appearances count

When it comes to picking your future family member, looks can be a major factor. In fact, studies have shown that, when choosing dogs, appearance can rank more highly than potential health or behavioural issues!4 Often, particular features such as flat faces, large eyes, coloured irises and wide smiles – all human-like attributes – are in demand5, and help that pet to fulfil the role of a non-human friend or child for their guardian.

However it is important to understand that brachycephalic pets (flat faced breeds) can have life-limiting health problems.

Want to learn more?

Where can you find the right pet for you?

Pets can make wonderful companions, but how do you decide which one is right for you? There are lots of factors you need to take into account before you make this life-changing decision. Read on to find out more to ensure you set off on the right foot when it comes to pet ownership.

Read more

When things don’t work out

Even with the best of preparations, life can sometimes throw unexpected events at us, which can turn pet ownership into more of a challenge than it might have been.

Read more

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