Take a long, hard look at your dog’s face. Remember it. Now, go out and look your car straight in the grill. Go down on all fours or kneel, it doesn’t matter. Let it register.
What do you see?
Chances are, you’ll see yourself (or a close resemblance, anyway) looking back at you. Coincidence? Not exactly.
It’s been well documented that most dog owners choose canines that resemble them. You can actually see this play out when you go for a walk in any park. Grab a seat and do some people-watching without being creepy and you’ll see what we mean.
Research Backs this Up
The fact that dogs tend to resemble their owners has baffled scientists for decades. When presented with a lineup of dogs and owners paired at random, research subjects were able to choose the right pair correctly.
At first, the researchers thought that there was a common denominator at play.
The assumption was that men were more likely to own a large and powerful dog breed, as opposed to a small dog. Women were more likely to have a toy breed stuffed into a handbag, and so on.
Talk about stereotyping!
Let’s Get Physical
The physical traits of dog owners were also considered to play a determining factor:
- Curly haired people owned poodles.
- Long haired women own floppy eared dogs.
- Fat people owned fat dogs.
The correlation between fat dogs and fat people actually exists in this NCBI/PubMed study. The study shows that dogs tend to follow the BMI of their owners. Thus, overweight dogs are likely owned by obese people.
Leave it to the Japanese
According to Jesse Bering of Slate.com, Japanese researchers have been trying to prove why we can link dogs to their owners with ease. Psychologist Sadahiko Nakajima and his team in Japan have been on the case for quite a while now.
Mr. Nakajima and his colleagues at Kwansei Gakuin University have been here before. Their previous research proved that people can match pictures of dogs and their owners based solely on facial appearance. Research subjects could even spot fakes in the lineup!
Upping the Ante
In his recent study published in Anthrozoös, Mr. Nakajima added a wrench in the comparison: black masks. The photos of dogs and humans either had black covers on the eyes or mouth. Some had no masks, while others only showed a small rectangle with the eyes of the subject.
20 sets of dog and owner photos were then placed on two sheets at random: Set A and Set B.
The judges then had to match dogs with their owners based on the available information. Judges tended to match dogs and owner pairs most accurately when there was no mask (80%). Matching pairs with masked mouths came in second with a 73% accuracy.
It’s the Eyes
The most startling revelation of this study is that when the eyes got the black mask treatment, the judges failed miserably (50%). But the participants involved in the eyes only judging had a 74% success rate in matching dog and owner pairs.
Surprised at this result, Nakajima repeated the test with a new set of judges. The results were even better: judges were 76% accurate in picking the correct dog and owner image set.
Now, it’s Your Car’s Turn
The Disney movie “Cars” showed us that it’s really simple to slap a face on a car. The cars all had different looks and personalities that perfectly matched their voices. No need to do a VIN number search when you’re in Radiator Springs, all you need to do is ask!
Anyway, going back on point, researchers in Vienna found that we look like the cars we drive, not just our dogs! So, if your dog and car both look like you, the end equation is that they look like each other, says University of Vienna psychologists Stefan Stieger and Martin Voracek.
According to an article the two published in Swiss Journal of Psychology, our faces not only resemble that of our dogs but our cars, too.
When viewed from the front, our vehicles bear a striking resemblance to our own faces
The study showed that judges were able to match cars with their respective owners at a percentage “above chance.” Stieger and Voracek chose 30 people (15 men and 15 women) at random and took black and white portrait photos of each one.
Next, the researchers took black and white, front end photos of the participant’s cars. They then developed 40 sets of photos involving both vehicles and owners, the latter showed once in the entire collection. The layout was one car image on top, with six faces of owners below it, three males and three females.
The judges had to choose who the owner was on a scale of 1 – 6 (most likely to least likely). Voracek and Stieger said that the judges picked the right pair most frequently. And when we look at the bigger picture (dogs resembling us), the correlation becomes more apparent.
People look like their dogs, and their dogs look like their cars!
Don’t believe us? Check out these car models that share a resemblance to some of the most popular dog breeds.
Cars That Look Like Dogs
Here’s a list of some car models that look like popular dog breeds. Check your dog or your car if you own one!
1956 BMW Isetta = Pug
The original bubble car of the 1950s, the Iso only had 9.5 horsepower, three wheels, and one door. The car’s flat face and round headlights bear a striking resemblance to the tiny Pug.
1961 Amphicar = French Bulldog
It’s a car/boat hybrid best suited for spies or those who love to drive their cars straight to the water. Unlike Bond movies though, the Amphicar isn’t a submarine. Launched in 1961, the German-made boat-car looks and stands like a French Bulldog. Notice the headlights, lower grille, and tail-fins? Frenchie all the way.
2018 Hennessey VelociRaptor 6×6 = Rottweiler
There are a few cars that look more menacing than the Hennessey VelociRaptor. The same holds true for the large breed Rottweiler. Heck, Ford should have named this car the Hennessey
Rottweiler 6×6 due to the striking similarities in badassery.
1964 Mini Moke = Bulldog
The original purpose of the Mini Moke was for the military, but the design wasn’t robust enough for the field. It was small, slow and underpowered. Looked at from the front, it looks just like a bulldog staring back at you.
1994 Toyota Previa S/C = Bull Terrier
As far as minivans go, the Toyota Previa S/C takes the cake for weirdest looking one. As far as dogs go – you get the picture. Both car and dog share the same head shape, especially when viewed from the sides.
1963 Chrysler Turbine = Dachshund
Long, low, alert with a brown/black color is the first thing that comes to mind when looking at Chrysler Tribune. Or was it the Dachshund? It’s hard to tell when they’re side-by-side! Produced in 1963 as a limited edition, the Turbine got its name because it had two turbines powering it.
The Anthropology makes Sense
Research by anthropologist Sonja Windhager has shown that we tend to see faces staring back at us when we look at cars from the front. For context, let’s take a closer look at all the comparisons:
- Windshield = forehead
- Headlights = eye
- Side mirrors = ears
- Grill = nose
- Air intake = mouth
Windhager found that we attribute various personality traits and characteristics to cars due to their front end. A classic example is the Volkswagen Beetle getting the “happy” label because of its round headlights. Another one is the “angry” scowl of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.
Not everyone can see a face when looking at a car, and most don’t even believe that cars have a face, to begin with. But there is a reason why we process the information we get from the front end of a car the way we do.
This phenomenon is more akin to our ancient survival instinct of seeing faces out of almost anything. It’s called pareidolia and humans have been doing it for thousands of years.
That’s All, Folks
Humans look like their dogs, and dogs look like the cars that their owners drive. It’s both funny, cute and eerie at the same time! As a pet owner don’t forget to make your car as pleasurable as possible for your pets. Accessories like a pet car seat and a car harness are a must! There’s plenty more car models and dog breeds out there that look alike, but we ran out of real estate for this article. Don’t forget to share your suggestions below if you have any ideas.
Patrick Peterson is a writer/editor at AutoDetective. Born and raised in the automotive world. He’s a passionate writer who crafts exquisite content pieces about everything related to cars and bikes.