Car Owners and Their Pets


Match these pet owners with their car brand:

A family with five cats.

A woman with a Rottweiler.

A guy with a Yorkie.

A couple with one cat.

Honda

Subaru

Mazda

Ford

Car dealers: Think you can make assumptions about car buyers based on first impressions? You may be surprised. Even characteristics as seemingly telling as pet ownership don’t always line up neatly with stereotypes.

A recent poll undertaken by the NPR show Car Talk and BestRide.com surveyed more than 3,000 car owners with pets. Their answers reveal the ways cat and dog ownership may influence car choice—including correlations between particular breeds and brands, as well as whether having multiple pets affects car buying.

One caveat regarding the survey: responders were also Car Talk listeners. This may indicate that they’re more educated about or interested in cars than the general population.

First, the intuitive: According to the poll, the more dogs a person has, the more likely they are to opt for a Hyundai. No surprise there—owning multiple dogs can get expensive and Hyundais, not so much. And Subaru owners, as the company’s marketing suggests, statistically prefer dogs to cats.

However, the more cats a person owned, the more likely they were to drive a Subaru. While this is surprising at first blush, it actually makes sense: the Outback, Crosstrek and Forester all have “way backs” that offer room for multiple cat carriers.

Now for some interesting—and perhaps less obvious—observations: Mazda and Scion owners strongly prefer cats to dogs. Yorkshire terrier owners have an affinity for Hondas. Ford drivers are 22% more likely than the general population to own bulldogs, and they also love Rottweilers. Poodle aficionados are more likely to own an Acura. Kia, Dodge and Lexus owners were the most likely respondents to have neither a dog nor a cat. Cadillac owners were perfectly split between cat and dog people.

And golden retrievers? Turns out everybody loves ’em. Goldens are the one breed whose owners are represented across the automotive landscape.  Or, perhaps golden retriever owners share their pets’ easygoing, game-for-anything personality.

So, what conclusions can car dealers draw from this survey? The most obvious takeaway is that common-sense features like cargo room and price seem to matter more than brand image for pet owners who frequently transport their furry friends. Less supported by the data, perhaps, but still important to remember: a sunny drive with all the windows down is good for the soul of human and canine alike.

Answers to the quiz at the top of this post:

A family with five cats—Subaru

A woman with a Rottweiler—Ford

A guy with a Yorkie—Honda

A couple with one cat—Mazda