Dating goes to the dogs: Sites promote bringing pets on dates 

click to enlarge In this July 2014 photo provided by Kris Rotonda, Rotonda, who founded YouMustLoveDogsDating.com, poses with his girlfriend Denise Fernandez and three of his four dogs, Kobe, a bichon frise, Jordan, a bull mastiff German shepherd and Samoyed mix, and Coco, a Yorkie in Clearwater, Fla. - AP PHOTO/REBECCA BRITTAIN
  • AP Photo/Rebecca Brittain
  • In this July 2014 photo provided by Kris Rotonda, Rotonda, who founded YouMustLoveDogsDating.com, poses with his girlfriend Denise Fernandez and three of his four dogs, Kobe, a bichon frise, Jordan, a bull mastiff German shepherd and Samoyed mix, and Coco, a Yorkie in Clearwater, Fla.

On these dating sites, a passion for pets will help you find more than just puppy love.

Sites like PetsDating.com and YouMustLoveDogsDating.com have found a new niche as singles flock to computers and smartphones to find relationships, connecting dog owners to potential mates who enjoy long walks in the dog park and slobbery canine kisses as much as they do. Many of the sites encourage users to bring their dogs on first dates to break the ice or size up canine chemistry.

Many dating sites cater to religious, cultural and political preferences, but won't focus as heavily on interests like pets, music or travel, said Karen North, a professor of social media at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Journalism.

"If you find somebody with the same lifestyle passion, you don't have to start out at square one," North said.

Having a common interest such as pets can help the search for love.

"Having a theme that is ... about one's passion makes it feel like you are looking for a needle in a smaller and far more relevant and appealing haystack," said Michal Ann Strahilevitz, a professor of marketing at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.

The founder of one of the dog-focused dating services, YouMustLoveDogsDating.com, agreed.

"Dogs on first dates are amazing icebreakers," said Kris Rotonda, who started up the site last year that now has 2 million members. "You find out right off the bat how everyone in a relationship will fit in."

But other veterans of the dating-service industry say focusing on a canine connection only adds an extra hurdle to finding love.

"When you consider how challenging it already is to find someone who offers what you are seeking in a romantic partner, and who seeks what you are offering, and where there is also mutual chemistry, and the timing is right ... you have to wonder who in their right mind would want to make it even more challenging by insisting on canine chemistry," said Trish McDermott, who spent 10 years as the dating expert and spokeswoman for Match.com.

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