This is why dogs developed 'puppy eye' muscles in their faces

Lisa Walden
Photo credit: John Clark / EyeEm - Getty Images

From Country Living

A new study conducted by the University of Portsmouth has found that dogs use 'puppy eyes' to bond with their humans.

Researchers behind the study discovered that dogs have evolved muscles around their eyes to make expressions that specifically appeal to humans. A small facial muscle enables dogs to mimic an 'infant-like' look, often known as puppy eyes, to prompt care and attention from humans.

By raising their eyebrows, dogs can create a look of longing to nudge their owners for a belly rub, cuddle or tasty treat. So the next time your dog gives you that look, they might be doing it with the intention to get something they want...

"When dogs make the movement, it seems to elicit a strong desire in humans to look after them. This would give dogs that move their eyebrows more a selection advantage over others and reinforce the 'puppy dog eyes' trait for future generations," explains study leader Dr Juliane Kaminski to The Independent.

For the study, scientists compared the behaviour of dogs from over 33,000-years-ago. They found that the facial musculature of dogs and wolves were still the same, except for the expression of the eyes.

The research also found that...

  • The facial changes come after years of dogs living with humans
  • This muscle movement allows dogs' eyes to "appear larger, more infant-like and also resembles a movement humans produce when they are sad."
  • "Puppy eyes" helped domesticated dogs to bond with humans
  • This could be the reason humans have such a strong bond with dogs

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