Researchers at St Mary’s University in Canada found that men who are looking for long-term partners are more likely to pose alongside a dog on their profiles.
Professor Maryanne Fisher, an evolutionary psychologist at the university who led the study, told The Times that men looking for a short-term fling were more likely to show off their “chests, their motorcycles, their boats, and the big fish they caught on the weekend”.
The study examined 750 dating profiles, including 225 men seeking a long-term relationship, 225 women who wanted the same, and 225 men looking for a casual fling.
It found that eight in ten men who were looking for something serious had a dating app photo featuring a dog.
In comparison, only 5 out of 10 looking for a short-term relationship posed alongside a pup.
Prof Fisher said: “Keeping a dog alive is a huge investment. It is an investment financially, but also you have to walk it and care for it and keep something alive.
“By showing these pictures perhaps they’re thinking, ‘OK women, you’ll see these and infer that I’m willing to do the same things in our relationship.’”
But she added that it was hard to know how genuine the men posing alongside dogs were, suggesting that men “unconsciously know that dogs are the best way to entice women.”
“Some people talk about ‘falling in love’; in my field we talk about ‘mating strategies,’” Prof Fisher added.
One man, who did not want to be named, confessed to the newspaper that he had borrowed his friend’s dog for a photo opportunity for a dating app.
He said: “I added one into my profile because … it’s just the done thing to have a picture with a dog.
“Everyone knows that people want to swipe on it, and you’ve got to stay ahead of the game.”