Fur real: new research suggests it’s pets before partners


New research commissioned by dating app eharmony has revealed the vital role pets play in romantic partnerships.

They are not just winners on dating profiles – with a pet’s inclusion leading to an increase in desirability, but can feather a truly compatible love nest.

Pets and compatibility

eharmony’s survey found that half (49%) of online daters were more attracted to people with pets, particularly if the potential partner owns the same kind of animal as them.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) think pets contribute to a healthy relationship, which is likely to be because they reflect compatible values. Pets are also associated with high levels of affection and empathy, which are key ingredients for sustaining relationships.

Indeed, if a couple has fur babies who don’t get along, almost half of Aussies (47%) would be prepared to walkies away.

It’s not surprising then that nearly three-quarters (74%) of pet owners say it’s extremely important for a potential partner to get on with their four-legged friend.

Beyond romantic compatibility, almost two-thirds of Aussies (64%) look to a person’s choice of pet to assess their potential partner’s suitability. Overall, dog and cat ownership are associated with more positive traits, including dependability (49% for dog and 23% for cat), loyalty (55.5% and 22%), good levels of affection (47% and 30%) and intellect (43% and 28%).

There were negative vibes for reptile-lovers though, with the majority of respondents associating cold-blooded pets, and their owners, with the traits of rudeness (41%), shallowness (40%) and selfishness (37%).

Pet ownership – what’s hot and what’s not

The most attractive pets for a new love match are dogs (75%), cats (47%), birds (21%) and rabbits (14.5%). The top deal-breakers though are crocodiles (55%), snakes (48%) and rats (42%). See tables 1 and 2 below.

What’s more, almost two-thirds (62%) of those surveyed said having an adopted or rescued (rather than purchased) pet makes a potential partner seem more attractive – possibly because they reflect higher levels of empathy and conscientiousness.

Pets can also boost desirability on dating profiles. While only about a quarter (23%) of singles admitted to showing off their pet in their profile, about half of Aussies (44%) admit profile pictures that include a match’s pet make them more attractive.

What the expert says

eharmony psychologist Sharon Draper said it was particularly interesting that the majority (81%) of those surveyed felt how someone treats their pet is a strong indicator of how they would be in a relationship.

“At eharmony, we know that compatible matches are the secret to long-term relationship success and pets can be a great indicator of this. Beyond that, more than three-quarters of participants said pet ownership signified a person’s ability to handle commitment,” Sharon said.

“While animal companions were positively perceived by most online daters, there was a significant proportion (30%) of survey participants who said pets can make relationships harder – perhaps causing disagreements about training, or maybe sparking jealousy over who’s getting the larger share of the owner’s affection.

“These challenges that our furry friends pose to our relationships can also be seen as an opportunity to check-in regarding your values and see if you’re on the same page. Should your pet sleep in your bedroom? How will you train them and how will you discipline them when they’ve been naughty?

“Unsurprisingly, our fur babies act much like real babies when it comes to testing our relationships, but also providing an opportunity to know your partner on a deeper level, and to find joy and companionship with a new member of the family.”

Table one – Top 5 attractive pets



Dogs (75%)

Cats (47%)

Birds (21%)

Rabbits (15%)

Lizard (6%)

Table two – Top 5 deal-breaker pets



Crocodiles (55%)

Snake (49%)

Rats (42%)

Possum (27%)

Lizard (27%)

/Public Release.