Despite the old saying "dog's are mans best friend" a number of scientific studies conducted by the likes of Washington State University and the Royal Society of Open Science are suggesting that women have a much closer relationship with our four-legged friends.
Dog’s have been loved by humans for years and, for many households, a dog is treated just like a member of the family. In the past, while dogs have been domesticated, we haven’t always had the same bond with them that we do today, and this could all be down to women's relationships with them.
The "man’s best friend" saying likely came about due to their roles as hunting dogs or shepherd dogs, where they were working predominantly alongside men. But now their working roles have evolved into more domesticated roles where they are seen simply as another member of the family. These days, people are adopting dogs not as practicality but for companionship and the relationship is a more emotional one.
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Dogs have an increased ‘personhood’ around women
Many dog owners treat their pups like people, feeding them homemade dog food and letting them sit at the table to eat it, or grooming them and buying them dog coats to wear when it's cold. This humanization of dogs is said to be down to a more emotional connection that we have with dogs now, seeing them more like a person than an animal.
Jamie Chambers, a Ph.D. at WSU said “we found that dogs’ relationships with women might have had a greater impact on the dog-human bond than relationships with men.” and that “humans were more likely to regard dogs as a type of person if the dog had a special relationship with women”.
The Royal Society of Open Science believes that this is down to women being more empathic and sensitive than men. Their study involved recording and analyzing dog growls in response to a number of situations and asking humans to identify the emotion linked to that growl.
In this study, women performed better than men and Tamas Farago, the study’s lead author added “this is a common pattern in emotion recognition studies. Women are likely more empathic and sensitive to others’ emotions and this helps them to better associate the contexts with the emotional content of the growls.”
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It is for this reason that we have grown as a society to give dogs more human-like status, such as giving them a name, allowing them on the furniture, and mourning their death in the same way we would a loved one.
These are not the only studies to suggest that dog is a woman’s best friend either. Another previous U.S study found that women sleep better with a dog by their side than they do anyone else, even their own partner! It is said they provide more comfort than that of a human, and it would seem that dogs don't mind it either!
While we don't think these studies have any real effect on how much male pet owners love their dogs, it's clear that dogs have evolved to become closer to both men and women, embracing both their instinctive behaviors and their more nurturing side. This is great news for dogs as it means they get twice the love and explains why most dogs are incredibly spoilt!
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Sarah is a freelance writer and marketer, covering a variety of topics from lifestyle and fitness to sustainability and travel. When she’s not writing for PetsRadar or other websites, she can be found looking after her pet chickens or relaxing with a cuppa and a cute doggo snoozing on her lap!