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Why the long face? Humans CAN tell their dog’s mood from its facial expression, research suggests 

Why the long face? Humans CAN Really Deduce Their Dog’s Mood From His Facial Expression, Study Suggests

  • In the study, 105 people were shown photos of dogs and identified their moods
  • A Doberman, a Belgian Shepherd called a Malinois, and a Rhodesian Ridgeback were used in the photos
  • The easiest emotion to recognize in the dogs was anger, which was recognized correctly 78 percent of the time
  • The study found that ‘people can naturally understand their dog’s emotions from their facial expressions’

We know when our dog gives us those puppy eyes — but after spending thousands of years with our canine friends, it turns out we can actually read their moods.

One study found that small changes, from wide eyes to a hanging tongue, can help detect six different emotions in dogs.

When 105 people were shown photos of three different races, they correctly identified feelings of happiness, sadness, curiosity, fear, disgust and anger in the animals.

Professor Harris Friedman, of the University of Florida and Harvard University, said: ‘Our findings suggest that people can naturally understand their dogs’ emotions through their facial expressions.’

A Belgian Malinois was one of the breeds recruited for the Floraglades Foundation study in the US

A Belgian Malinois was one of the breeds recruited for the Floraglades Foundation study in the US

Researchers recruited a Doberman, a Belgian Shepherd known as a Malinois, and a floppy-eared Rhodesian Ridgeback for their study.

The easiest emotion to recognize seems to be anger, which was correctly identified in nearly 78 percent of the cases.

dr. Tina Bloom, who led the research for the Floraglades Foundation in the US, said, “It makes sense that after living with dogs for so long, we can understand their feelings.”

The dogs were made happy by asking them to play while a ball was thrown in the air.

When shown pictures of the delighted dogs, the 105 study participants correctly identified the expression nearly three-quarters of the time.

To make dogs look sad for a photo, they were scolded, and three quarters of the time people identified this mishap in the puppies as well.

But even more complicated emotions were correctly identified at a much faster rate than would have been expected by chance.

Researchers disgusted dogs by giving them a piece of sausage with a bitter antacid and lemon juice in it.

The repulsive expression of the three dogs in their photos was accurately identified by the human study group 51 percent of the time — double the 25 percent chance of getting it right by chance.

The Doberman and Belgian Shepherd reacted with fear at the sight of toenail clippers, as they disliked having their claws shortened, while the Rhodesian Ridgeback feared a person lifting a padded stick in an intimidating manner.

In nearly 55 percent of cases, people could tell a frightened dog from the photos by their large eyes and flattened ears — also higher than the 25 percent expected by chance.

Nearly 49 percent of the time, people could see a curious or surprised dog — an emotion triggered in the photos by a jack in the box leaping out in front of them.

The easiest-to-recognize emotion in dogs seems to be anger, which was correctly identified in nearly 78 percent of cases.

The Doberman and Belgian Shepherd were angered by a person raising a padded stick, while the Rhodesian Ridgeback was startled by a noisy leaf blower.

The researchers expected that humans would perform the least well at identifying emotions in a Doberman, as they are sometimes stereotyped as aggressive dogs.

Instead, this was the second best breed for people who recognized his emotions, after the Malinois, according to the research published in the journal Behavioral Processes.

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