- Scientists have revealed the dogs that give the most expressive glances at humans
- They say it’s not about the breed, but about the facial markings of the dogs
They are often referred to as “man’s best friend,” but a new study suggests that when it comes to communication, not all dogs are created equal.
Researchers at George Washington University have revealed which dogs give humans the most expressive looks.
Their findings suggest it’s not about breed, but rather the dogs’ facial markings.
According to the researchers, those with a single-color face are perceived as more expressive than those with multicolored faces.
“Knowing what dogs are trying to tell us and what they might be thinking or feeling can really improve both their experience and ours when we are together,” said Courtney Sexton, lead author of the study.
Their findings suggest it’s not about breed, but rather the dogs’ facial markings. According to the researchers, those with a single-color face are perceived as more expressive than those with multicolored faces.
Since they were domesticated about 16,000 years ago, dogs have fostered an incredibly unique relationship with humans.
For example, previous studies have shown how dogs have the ability to make their owners understand what their barking and growling mean.
In their new study, the team set out to investigate how dogs’ faces affect their ability to communicate with humans.
The researchers recruited 100 dog owners, who were asked to record their pets under different conditions.
The team then used a coding system called Dog Facial Action Coding System to analyze each dog’s behavior.
This allowed them to create a novel system for scaling and evaluating facial markings and patterns on dogs’ faces.
Participants were also asked to complete a survey about their dog and its expressions.
The results revealed that dogs with simpler faces appear to make more facial expressions when interacting with their owner than puppies with more complex facial markings.
Older dogs appeared to be less expressive than younger puppies, which the researchers suggest may be because older dogs have a more established relationship with their owner, so they don’t have to work as hard to be understood.
Meanwhile, working dogs or highly trained dogs were also more expressive.
According to the researchers, these findings have real-world implications.
“As dogs become more integrated into human society, it is important that we understand how they communicate with us and how we can communicate with them better,” Ms Sexton said.
“If we think about this in terms of welfare contexts, or dogs in shelters, or working dogs and service animals, or interactions with dogs in your neighborhood or people at a dog park, knowing what dogs are trying to tell us and what they might be thinking or feeling can really enhance both their experience and ours when we’re together.’
WHAT ARE THE TEN COMMON MYTHS ABOUT DOGS?
It’s easy to believe that dogs like what we like, but this is not always strictly true.
Here are ten things people should remember when trying to understand their pets, according to animal behavior experts Dr Melissa Starling and Dr Paul McGreevy from the University of Sydney.
1. Dogs don’t like to share
2. Not all dogs like to be hugged or petted.
3. A dog that barks is not always an aggressive dog
4. Dogs do not like other dogs entering their territory/home.
5. Dogs like to be active and don’t need as much relaxation time as humans.
6. Not all dogs are overly friendly, some are more shy at first
7. A dog that seems friendly may soon become aggressive.
8. Dogs need open spaces and new areas to explore. Playing in the garden will not always be enough
9. Sometimes a dog isn’t misbehaving, he just doesn’t understand what to do or what you want.
10. Subtle facial cues often prevent barking or biting when a dog is unhappy.