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It’s Raining Dogs, Hallelujah! Cats, Not So Much.

UNLV-led anthropology study finds dog owners more attractive to potential mates.

Research  |  Nov 24, 2015  |  By Francis McCabe
Peter Gray and his dog Puppers

UNLV anthropology professor Peter Gray and his dog Puppers. (R. Marsh Starks/UNLV Photo Services)

It turns out, dating might be for the dogs. In a good way.

A study led by UNLV anthropology professor Peter Gray found that someone’s pet may wield significant influence in choosing a mate. And it’s dogs, not cats, that offer more appeal to people, especially women, searching for a partner.

The data were obtained from a 2014 survey of users who indicated pet information in their dating profiles. More than 1,200 people responded, 60 percent of them women.

UNLV graduate student Shelly Volsche, Justin Garcia of the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, and Helen Fisher of Rutgers University, collaborated with Gray on the study. They found that women were more discriminating about pets than men, and that dogs were seen as a “better measure of a potential mate’s caregiving capacity.”

One reason for this is that domesticated animals are increasingly viewed in society as family members, Gray explained. And so how someone treats their pet could indicate how someone would treat a mate and possibly children, he said.

The study found that an overwhelming number of women and men felt that a relationship could work with a “dog person.” Fewer thought a relationship could work with a “cat person.”

When 727 women were asked if they would date someone who didn’t like pets, 536 women -- or nearly 75 percent -- said no. For the 469 men asked that question, the study revealed a more even split.

While both men and women were more likely to be attracted to someone because they had a pet, men were more likely to use a pet to attract a potential date.

Gray noted the study might not come as a surprise to many. “This is one of those studies where people might say ‘this is really pretty obvious.’ Sometimes that’s some of the best science. In this case, it’s the largest study of its kind and it’s also the first to contrast the roles of cats with dogs in dating,” Gray said.

In today’s dating culture, canines seem to be playing a greater role, including here in Las Vegas.

The Downtown Container Park has held doggie date nights and there’s a restaurant and bar in Summerlin called the Lazy Dog which has a canine friendly patio.

For domestic pets of the feline persuasion, the results were less than purr-fect. As we’ve recently learned from a University of Edinburgh study, not only may cats want to kill their owners, but as Gray found they’re not likely to help you land a mate, either.

So how does someone show off they’re a good catch these days? A potential mate, Gray quipped, might look to how you “groom yourself, how you dress, and whether you have a friendly pooch at your side.”