For the study, published in the scientific journal Scientific, the scientists looked at the heredity of dog ownership using information from 35,035 twin pairs from the Swedish Twin Registry.
"We were surprised to see that a person's genetic makeup appears to have a significant impact on dog ownership," said lead author Tove Fall, professor at Uppsala University in Sweden.
"As such, these findings have major implications in various areas related to understanding dog-human interaction throughout history and in modern times," Fall said.
Although dogs and other pets are generally members of the household, little is known about how they affect our daily lives and health.
"Perhaps some people have a higher congenital tendency to care for a pet than others, Fall added.
The researchers found that correlation rates of dog ownership were much higher in identical twins than in non-identical twins – to support the idea that genetics does indeed play a major role in choosing to own a dog.
"These findings are important because they suggest that supposed health benefits of owning a dog that is mentioned in some studies may be partially explained by the different genetics of the people studied," said Carri Westgarth, professor at the University of Liverpool in Great -Britain.
The next obvious step is to try to identify which genetic variants influence this choice and how they relate to personality traits and other factors such as allergy, the researchers noted.