General Pet Information, Pet Emotions

Puppy Dog Eyes – A New Study

A new study performed by researchers at the University of Portsmouth in the U.K. has found that dogs’ eyebrows have changed dramatically so they can communicate better with us. The reshaping of dogs’ eyebrow anatomy makes their faces and emotions easily readable to humans. The study is the latest example of how 20,000 years of cohabitation has made our pets finely tuned interpreters of human emotion.

When meeting a person’s gaze, dogs often raise their inner eyebrow muscle to make their eyes look larger and more appealing, also known as “puppy dog eyes.” Juliana Kaminski, the study leader states, “There’s no evidence that dogs move their eyebrow muscles intentionally, but it creates an exaggerated movement that for us means ‘dog.’

In her past research, Kaminski has found that dogs are uniquely skilled at understanding gestures, outperforming even non-human primates such as chimps. She has also investigated how people understand dog behavior; in one of her studies she filmed shelter dogs to see if any of their behaviors were lined to how quickly the animal was adopted. She found that only one behavior stood out: the movement of the dog’s eyebrows upward and inward.

The current study consisted of dissecting and analyzing the facial muscles of six dogs and 4 grey wolves. They discovered two muscles that were present in all dogs but either almost absent or smaller and more variable in the wolves. One of the muscles is responsible for exposing more of the white of the eye – making the dogs appear more human-like.

“Small shifts can have perceivable impacts when it comes to changes in anatomy,” says Molly Selba, a PhD student who studies evolution and dog domestication at the University of Florida. “The muscles of facial expressions are relatively tiny muscles, but they can make a big impact on the way we perceive a face,” says Selba, who wasn’t involved in the research.

Brian Hare, an evolutionary anthropologist at Duke University, notes that dogs and wolves are very similar anatomically – with the exception of these eye muscles. Hare commenting on the study states, “they [dogs] almost certainly did not evolve due to intentional selection, but instead gave dogs an advantage in their interactions with humans.”

Next, Kaminski hopes to examine a wider variety of dogs breeds, including more ancient breeds and street dogs to understand how these muscular changes evolved. She also plans to investigate more about our reactions to puppy dog eyes.

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Posted by: BP, Smart Hemp CBD

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