Whether they’re simply melting hearts with a cute face, or conveying some deeper aspect of our personality, animals make frequent cameos in our profile pics. But what does our choice of animal photos say about us?
In a survey of more than 22 million dating profiles, Dating Scout revealed some interesting statistics about which animals are most and least likely to appear in our profiles. We figured we’d take those stats and run with them. Here’s a glimpse into how our canine, feline, equestrian, and deep-sea counterparts can help us land a date.
80% of all pet pictures in dating profiles are of dogs
Most popular breeds include terriers, lab retrievers, and bulldogs
Dogs are almost universally loved. So a dog in your profile, if nothing else, shows that you’re smart enough to know how to earn an easy “awww.”
But the appearance of a dog conveys more than a cute face. “Dogs mean a lot of responsibility and have a strong bond to their owners,” says the study. “So a ‘dog person’ is said to be reliable, outgoing and is able to take over the responsibility for an animal that needs a lot of attention and care.”
If you have a dog, yes, include it in your photos, especially if they’re a big part of your life. But if you’re not a dog owner, hold off on heading to the local dog park to snap selfies on the down-low. There are better options.
For one, 80% of the animals featured in dating-profiles are dogs, so you’re not necessarily setting yourself apart. And believe it or not, not everyone is a fan of dogs. Some potential partners might see a dog as a hindrance to travel, spontaneity, etc. Others may have allergies. And others still may simply want you all to themselves.
So if dogs are a part of your life, snuggle up and pose. However, if you’re petless, but still looking to add some animal life to your pics, we suggest going with something a little more original. Maybe something like...
We’re not entirely joking here. Elephants were a surprising hit in the study, especially among online daters of college and grad-student-age. So if you’re trying to appeal to the brainy set, or demonstrate your animal-loving heart beside your globetrotting skills, book a trip to an elephant sanctuary. And bring film.
43% of men and 57% of women were found to have elephants in their profile pics
Elephants showed up the highest of “wild animals” in women’s profiles
An elephant can send 2 messages at once: that you’re untethered by a pet that might hamper your own freedom, but that you still have a soft, animal-loving side. Maybe a pet is in the cards for you one day, the photo says...but for now you’re happy darting off to exotic locations to meet them there. And it doesn’t hurt that elephants are some of the more intelligent and nurturing animals in wildlife.
We’re as surprised by you at the popularity of the elephant. But it makes sense. Nobody’s going to skip past your profile because they’re worried a spontaneous, romantic getaway will be hampered by first having to find an elephant-sitter. An elephant could convey a nice balance between groundedness and free-spiritedness, between a deep-rooted connection to nature and the freedom to pick up and travel to exotic places.
An elephant photo is not only an eye catcher, but a great conversation starter. It will give those interested in you an easy ice-breaker to get things going, and chances are if you’re posing beside an elephant, you’ve got a story about it. Keep in mind, though, who you’re looking to attract. Circuses, and to a lesser extent even zoos, are controversial and can be a big turn off to those concerned with animal rights.
Horses were the third-most photographed animals in dating profiles, falling behind only cats and dogs, and scored equally well with men and women. Consider a horse as an alternative to an elephant for the reasons listed above (love of animals, but free from ownership responsibilities, etc.) There are plenty more reasons, however, that so many horses have reared their heads into our online dating profiles.
55.48% of women and 44.52% of men have shown an affection for horses in their profiles
Horses ranked 3rd-most photographed animals next to dogs and cats
Horses can pull a double duty of sorts when it comes to the message they impart. The same animal can convey romance or ruggedness, royalty or life-on-the-range, depending on the atmosphere. There’s always the polo-field wedding which makes a great photo op: you standing on lush grounds with tea lights, champagne, and a few horses milling about can signify class or at least a penchant for getting invited to great events. Swap the formalwear for a pair of faded Levis and your favorite flannel, however, and the campfire scent will practically waft off the picture, appealing to anyone with a love of nature or fantasies of the frontier.
Be selective if you’re thinking about including a photo with a horse. They’re a little too common to include just for the sake of it, so make sure there’s great scenery, a great story, or some other exceptional element of the photo. Horseback riding photos, while a little predictable, are nonetheless a safe bet for conveying your sense of adventure (and maybe showing off some sexy jeans or a cowboy hat). If you’re an equestrian, an action picture is a no-brainer.
Though fish make frequent appearances in dating profile pics, an important distinction needs to be made. There are 2 types of fish photos: the first includes fish in aquariums, oceans, or sanctuaries, while the second includes fish at the end of a fishing line. An important distinction, obviously, with each type sending very different messages. We’ll focus mostly on the first example.
Fish are the fourth most-popular animals in profiles behind dogs, cats, and horses
Fine: fish aren’t exactly cuddly, and they’re less likely to tug on the heart strings like a dog would. But that doesn’t mean there’s no room in your photos for fish; the message is just more subtle.
The ocean in general evokes a sense of depth and mystery, so a photo of you in an aquarium, staring through the glass as rainbowfish, sea nettles, anemones, and starfish float across the background can express rich inner depths, or depict a more contemplative side of your personality. The sensory effects alone—spectrums of colors, rich textures, diversity in shapes, forms, movements, fluidity—can add some visual flair that will catch the eye and perhaps cause it to linger a bit. As for photos related to the sport of fishing, photos can range from casual to competitive, and it’s best to know what you’re looking to convey. Since 84% of fishers in the data were male, women stand more of a chance of standing out if their profile has a photo of them with a big catch.
Though less universal, photos featuring fish can achieve effects other animals cannot. Scuba diving and snorkeling pics are naturally a fine way to demonstrate your hobbies (or maybe your bodies). For a certain type of person, one wishing to convey their rich inner worlds, or sense of wonder, creativity, and imagination, we’d recommend heading to the aquarium for a good staring-into-the-abyss pic. Photos of you swimming with dolphins, meanwhile, are not the most original, but generally effective, and certainly preferable to another bathroom selfie.
In online dating, the challenge is capturing someone’s attention with your profile in just a number of seconds. Posing with an animal is certainly a way to differentiate yourself from the masses and to add some context about who you are, but be careful not to send the wrong message with the wrong animal. If you’re really feeling adventurous you might set up profiles on multiple dating sites and do some A/B testing of which animal draws more interest.