The Scoop on Dating Photos with Dogs

There’s a popular bit of data that says dating photos with dogs get positive responses on dating apps. Which leads some people (mostly dudes, bless their hearts) to think they *should* have a photo with a dog on their dating profile.

More matches, right?

Well, maybe. But there’s a potential pitfall here that I want to help you avoid.


If you have a dog:

100% YES your dog should appear in one of your dating profile photos (just one! You don’t need to oversample on your dog; use your other dating app photos to highlight other parts of your life).

If you don’t have a dog:

Then typically no, you should not have a dog in your dating profile photos. I’ll explain.

Should you include a dog photo in your dating profile?

Let’s break things down and get some clarity on dog dating photos so you don’t accidentally do something dumb on your dating profile.

Question one is: do you have a dog? 

If the answer is no, I would caution you against having a dating photo with a dog. Why? Because people will (reasonably) assume that the dog in the photo is…your dog.  

Thinking about renting a dog for your dating profile pics?

I’ve actually had multiple dating photography clients ask me variations of “should I rent a dog for my dating photoshoot?”.

Definitely do not rent a dog! (is this even a service? I had to google it. YES, you really can rent a dog in Seattle.) Don’t even borrow your friend’s dog for your dating profile photoshoot.

Think about it like this – would it be a good idea to rent a Ferrari (or borrow your buddy’s) to stand next to in one of your dating app photos? 

No! Because people will assume that it’s your Ferrari and (this is the important part), they will factor it into the mental picture they’re forming about you and your lifestyle and what it might be like to date you. 

Your dating photos aren’t just about showing people what you look like, they’re about giving people clues and glimpses into your life. 

If the clues you give about yourself in your dating profile photos are misleading (even if by accident), you might get some good matches and first dates, but it’s likely going to be hard to get second dates. *People HATE being misled, especially on dating apps*.

Ok, circling back to the dog situation.

Who responds positively to dog photos on dating apps?

The simple answer is: people who like dogs.

Most likely, when you match with one of these dog people they will ask about your dog fairly early in your interactions (whether that’s in a message or in person on a first date). Dogs are great conversation starters!

If the dog was borrowed (or rented, lol!) when asked about your dog you will have to reply something like “oh, it’s actually not my dog…” and then: 

  • It’s kind of a bummer because your match had formed a picture in their mind of that dog being a part of their life when they’re dating you (which they were excited about because they love dogs), and 
  • You run the risk of looking like the guy who read somewhere that he “should have a photo with a dog” on his dating profile so he could get more matches. Now you look like somebody who is thirsty for matches and also doesn’t think stuff through.

So, for your matches who love dogs, you’re starting off by disappointing them. 

The drawbacks of including a dog in your dating profile photos…

But there’s another invisible downside here in the form of the people you *don’t* match with.

Like, what about that beautiful woman with the cat who is looking for a long-term live-in lover? She just swiped left on you because she (again, reasonably) assumed that it was your dog in your dating photo and dogs are a no-go with her cat. 

Or what about the babe who loves international travel? She just passed you by because she wants a travel companion and a dog is typically not compatible with that kind of lifestyle. 

See what I’m getting at here?

If you DON’T have a dog, having a dog in one of your dating photos will attract people who will assume it’s your dog (and that you have a lifestyle that involves living with a dog). It will also filter out people for whom a dog is a deal-breaker. DOUBLE NEGATIVE 👎🏼👎🏼!  

I have a dog! Should I include my dog in my dating profile photos?

If you DO have a dog, then YES! 100% yes you should show your dog in one of your dating photos. You will attract people who love dogs, and you’ll filter out the ones who don’t. DOUBLE POSITIVE 👍🏼👍🏼!  

How to choose a photo of you and your dog for your online dating profile:

A couple notes on implementation:

If you really want your dog photo to work for you on your dating profile, choose one that shows you having a moment of genuine connection and interaction with your dog! Pick a photo where not only do you look good, but your dog looks happy and relaxed (a dating photo of you looking attractive next to a stressed out animal is baaaaad. I don’t care what kind of animal it is, don’t do it).

And it is ok if your dog is the focus of the photo! Just make sure that if your dog it the center of attention you put the photo at the end of your dating profile, after you’ve already shared some great photos where you are the star.

Alright, let’s wrap it up with a couple of edge cases:

Q: What if my dog died recently, do I have to get rid of the photo on my dating profile of me and my dog? 

A: No, as long you’re okay with being asked about the dog and being honest about no longer having him/her in your life. If you’re ok with fielding those kinds of questions I could see it being a positive (you’re being honest and vulnerable, sharing your sense of loss, these could be attractive to some potential mates), OR negative (this could be pretty heavy/sad for when you’re first getting to know someone, especially if you’re likely to burst into tears when you talk about it). Your call.

Q: What if it’s not my dog but it’s a dog that I know and am close with.

A: If it’s a dog that is in your life in a consistent way, that you have a relationship with (like, your best friend’s dog or your parent’s dog or a dog you babysit semi-regularly), this is not as bad as just a rando dog. But you’ll still risk missing matches with people for whom living with a dog is a deal breaker. Again, your call.

dating photography with cat

Q: What if I have a cat?

A: If you’re a cat person, the same logic applies to you!

If you live with a cat (and especially if that cat is part of a package deal for anybody who dates you) it will benefit you to show that cat in one of your dating profile photos!

You’ll attract babes who also like cats and avoid wasting your time on ones who don’t (or who are allergic to cats).

online dating profile photo with cat

Alright friend! Hopefully this gives you some clarity on dating photos with dog (and cats!). It’s not as simple as “dog photos = more matches on dating apps”, but it is pretty damn simple!

A dating photo with YOUR dog (or cat)? >> 👍🏼 YES, put that puppy on your dating profile!

A dating photo with NOT your dog (or cat)? >> 👎🏼 NO, don’t put on your online dating profile.

For more real-talk, common-sense dating app photography advice, check out 3 Rules for Group Photos on Dating Apps and Remove These 5 Photos from Your Dating Profile ASAP.

And for my full attention applying all this good advice to create and curate a set of kick-ass, super intentional dating photos for yourself, hit me up!