Which love language does your pet speak?

Cat and dog with red hearts isolated on white background.
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A love language is something we normally associate with humans, but did you know that this philosophy, based on how we each show and feel love, can be applied to our pets too? It’s true! First introduced by author Gary Chapman close to three decades ago, the five love languages were aimed at helping humans to improve their relationships with one another. But it turns out that your dog or cat has a love language of their own, and understanding it can help bring you closer.

According to Chapman, there are five primary love languages: physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and receiving gifts. Most of us have a primary love language and then one or two secondary love languages. Much like people, our pets have specific ways they like to show and receive love and affection too. Let’s take a closer look at each of the five languages, so you can figure out which love language your pet speaks.

1. Physical touch

Beautiful red british shorthair cat and adorable pug sitting on their owners lap with Christmas tree in the background

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If petting, grooming, and scratching put a massive smile on your pet's dial, chances are that physical touch is your furkids primary love language. In a new report just released by Rover.com, the world’s largest network of pet sitters and dog walkers, 41% of the 1,000 dog owners surveyed said physical touch was their dog’s top love language.

Clear signs that your pet’s love language is physical touch include them rubbing up against you, wanting to be on your lap, showering you with kisses, or offering you their head or belly for petting. If you have a pet that frequently displays these behaviors, be sure to shower them with plenty of physical affection, as this is the main way they’ll feel loved by you.

2. Quality time

Cavapoo dog playing with a a rubber ring toy

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Do you have a dog or cat that always wants to be near you? Would you go so far as to call your pet your shadow? If your furkid is never far from your side, quality time is one of their love languages. 

Learning how to play with your cat or dog is one of the easiest ways you can spend some quality time together. Investing in a few of the best cat toys or best dog toys is a great way to strengthen your bond through play and laughter. Other ways include taking a walk or a nap together, talking with your pet, or simply sitting side by side on the couch together. Whatever form your quality time takes, give your furkid plenty of undivided attention, and you’ll have a loyal companion for life.

  • Quality time cat breeds: Abyssinian, Ragdoll, Manx, Turkish Angora, Bombay, Birman, American Curl, Burmese
  • Quality time dog breeds: Maltese, Border Collie, Golden Retriever, Labrador, Pug, German Shepherd, Shetland Sheepdog

3. Words of affirmation

Cat meowing at owner

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If your pet loves praise and being told they’re a good boy or girl, words of affirmation are the key to their heart. Happy meows, purrs, and barks are the hallmarks of talkative breeds that show and feel love through sounds and words.

Pets that have words of affirmation as one of their love languages will look engaged and alert when you’re talking to them. You’ll likely notice them become energized or excited when they hear their name and will light up at the sound of your cheerful tone. Pay attention to your dog or cat's communication and if they respond well to praise, using it generously is a great way to strengthen your bond.

  • Talkative cat breeds: Bengal, Siamese, Oriental Shorthair, Maine Coon, Japanese Bobtail, Turkish Angora, Burmese, Siberian
  • Talkative dog breeds: Basset Hound, Malamute, Beagle, Pomeranian, Bloodhound, Chihuahua, Siberian Husky, Yorkshire Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer

4. Acts of service

Dog Bringing Newspaper to Owner

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While acts of service is the least common love language among pets, you’ll know if it’s one of your dog or cat’s love languages if they excel at agility classes or are easy to train. These pets are obedient, intelligent, complete tasks quickly, and tend to show high levels of restraint and discipline. Because of these traits, they’re often used for pet therapy.

These animals are givers, not takers. Cats who value acts of service will often groom their owners, while dogs will often bring their parents items, such as the newspaper or their slippers. To show your acts-of-service furkid some love, you can praise them for serving you or do an act of service for them, such as making sure their cat litter is changed regularly or learning how to groom your dog.

5. Receiving gifts

Ginger British Shorthair cat with present

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Is your dog always dropping their favorite squeaky toy at your feet? Does your cat love to shower you with love in the form of dead mice on your doorstep? If the answer is yes, you have a pet that loves giving and receiving gifts. 

So, how can you best repay these slightly gross but also rather sweet displays of their love and affection? Given that these pets love receiving gifts, consider treating them to one of the top ten tech gifts for cats and dogs. They’re bound to put a sparkle in their eyes and earn you some major love points! Rewarding your canine with a dog treat or making your cat swoon with one of the best catnip toys, are also great options. 

  • Cat and dog breeds that love being spoiled: Almost all of them!
Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.