The seven types of dog owner and how to spot them

Joe Biden’s dog is a habitual biter of White House staff
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In light of the news that Joe Biden’s dog is a habitual biter of White House staff, we’re now all wondering what kind of dog owner the US president might be. Oblivious? Excuse-making? Besotted?

These days the type of dog owner you are is more revealing of your character than almost anything else. To paraphrase the Jesuits, show me a dog owner and their dog for a day and I’ll tell you whether or not you would be wise to go into business with, marry, or vote for this individual.

So here are the main Dog Owner Types (DOTs), in no particular order. Note: you are rarely capable of spotting your own DOT so ask someone else to tell you which one you are.

It’s Not Him, It’s You

We feel this is almost certainly Biden’s dog style - if indeed he is aware he is the owner of a dog - not least because his staff are blaming the unpredictable nature of life at the White House for the pet’s aggressive behaviour. But also it seems likely that Biden would defend a bitey dog while genially wondering, ‘You gotta ask what did the guy do to deserve the nip?’

In the UK we’re familiar with this DOT. They watch their dog maul your dog/child and then say with a shrug “he just doesn’t like the sound of wind” and in the rest of their lives they are similarly inclined to shrug and dodge and watch from the sidelines.

The Besotteds

Just very boring about their dog. On and on about its funny habits and sweet paws and the thing it did on Sunday and instagramming pictures of its head on the pillow, smiling. Honestly, level-headed normal people, as well as annoying silly people, can get like this but you have to wonder what else is going on in their lives? Is the dog plugging a giant misery gap/empty nest crisis/dead marriage/dead parents in quick succession? Probably.

The Exasperated Dog Owner

The EDO is a variation on the It’s Not Him, It’s You owner, only the difference is they are simultaneously furious with their dog for not obeying them and defensive that this lack of obedience has been witnessed (the INHIY is not bothered.)

Biden's staff are blaming the unpredictable nature of life at the White House for the pet’s aggressive behaviour.
Biden's staff are blaming the unpredictable nature of life at the White House for the pet’s aggressive behaviour - getty

The Old School Dog Owner

These owners have never not lived with dogs and you can tell them apart from other dog owners because they contentedly co-exist with their dogs rather than expect them to be centre stage at all times. In general you can count on this lot being straightforward and reliable and genuinely disturbed at the idea of Deliveroo or wet rooms.

The Cool Dog Owner

This owner is able to command their huge dog by raising a pinky, an impressive trick which they achieved by spending a lot of money on elite puppy training. Everything in the cool dog owner’s life is managed properly from their weight to their garden to their children’s expectations. They are capable, organised and fulfilled. The last time they were caught out was Boxing day 2006 when they missed a flight but that was not their fault.

The We’re So Charming Dog Owner

Eternally youthful and flirtatious owner raises eternally cute and mischievous/nightmarish dog and inevitably both are high maintenance, unpredictable and either irresistible (to men of a certain age) or a source of extreme irritation. Any mistakes on the part of this owner are re-cast as things that were poorly done to them.

The Urban Dog Owner

This one has a bit of an owner complex, especially if the dog is bigger than handbag sized, not that well trained, barks a lot when left alone and so on. As in other areas they are hypersensitive to criticism, impatient, stressed, guilty. They really want to be a better parent, employee, own a bigger house, fight less with their partner but can’t work out how. Naturally they don’t see the connection between their generalised anxiety and the dog’s behaviour.


More from Shane: Old-school common sense or ‘just in the nick of time’: which health gang are you in?

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