Dog and cat owners agree on at least one thing: They like mixed-breed pets.
A wide-ranging survey conducted for pet food maker Royal Canin found that 28 percent of dog owners and 40 percent of cat owners identified “mixed breed” as their favorite type of cat or dog. While the numbers may not be dramatic, the responses were the highest overall.
Labrador retrievers were the second favorite among dog owners (15 percent), followed by the German shepherd (10 percent). Cat owners selected the tabby—not a true breed—at 20 percent, followed by the Maine Coon (15 percent).
Choosing an actual canine or feline companion was a different matter all together. While an animal's temperament was the starting point for both groups, 55 percent of cat owners took appearance into account as the second factor and 62 percent of dog owners looked at size.
“It's interesting to learn how different cat and dog owners can be when choosing, and making decisions for, their pets,” said Dr. Brent Mayabb, DVM, manager of education and development at St. Charles, Mo.-based Royal Canin. “Whatever factors come into play, understanding an animal's physical and physiological traits is critical to providing the best care.”
An owner's personality played a role in the type of cat or dog brought home.
Some 59 percent of dog owners identified themselves as “laid back, easygoing,” which are traits that describe the Labrador retriever.
Fifty-three percent of cat owners stated that they lead an active lifestyle and enjoy spending time with family and friends, which meshed with the high ranking of the Maine Coon.
“Matching a dog or cat's personality with that of your family is essential,” said Steve Dale, a certified animal behavior consultant and host of “Steve Dale's Pet World” radio show. “Before bringing home a new pet, owners should research a breed's energy level and temperament to make sure it matches up with the owners' lifestyle.”
The online survey of 500 cat owners and 509 dog owners—carefully selected to match U.S. demographics—was conducted in late February and early March. The margin of error was set at 3 percentage points.
Among other findings:
• Just over half of the respondents stated that nutritional factors were most important when choosing food for their cat or dog. Price ranked second and the flavor, texture, shape or kibble type was third.
• About one-third of dog owners identified Lassie as their favorite dog in history, followed by Snoopy. A majority of cat owners (54 percent) picked Garfield.
• 76 percent of dog owners selected the correct multiple-choice answer when asked why Yorkshire terriers were originally bred (to chase rats in mines). Only 31 percent of dog owners knew that the English bulldog is well-suited for apartment life. Forty-three percent erroneously believed that bulldogs need a large backyard.
• Cat owners aced the five-question feline trivia test. Overall, they knew that Persian cats use the lower side of their tongue to pick up food and that the Siamese cat originated in Thailand.