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Scientists Find Puppy Dog Eyes Are An Evolutionary Trick To Appeal To Humans

Scientists Find Puppy Dog Eyes Are An Evolutionary Trick To Appeal To Humans

If you ever had the feeling that your four-legged friends know exactly what they're doing when they nuzzle up to you with those sad puppy dogs eyes then you're absolutely right, as UK researchers have just published a study that found dogs have actually evolved new facial muscles purely to make pleading faces to their masters.

The result of more than 33,000 years of evolution, those sad wide eyes are now believed to be more of a survival strategy that an expression of friendship, after researchers compared the muscles of dogs with wolves - their closest relatives.

Credit: Unsplash/Jay Wennington
Credit: Unsplash/Jay Wennington

Results revealed that modern dogs have developed these small muscles around the eyes which allow them to raise their inner eyebrows, leading to those heart-melting eyes that dogs make when they're hungry or want attention, and are a tried-and-tested way to trigger a caring response from their human.

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Wolves, on the other hand, possess hardly any comparable muscles, leading researchers from the University of Portsmouth to believe that humans naturally favour canines for the fact they are able to pull these faces, giving them a selection advantage.

Credit: Pexels
Credit: Pexels

"Dogs have a small muscle which allows them to intensely raise their inner eyebrow, which wolves do not," explained a university spokeswoman. "The authors suggest that the inner eyebrow-raising movement triggers a nurturing response in humans because it makes the dogs' eyes appear larger, more infant-like and also resembles a movement humans produce when they are sad."

Dr Juliane Kaminski, who led the research, added: "The findings suggest that expressive eyebrows in dogs may be a result of humans' unconscious preferences that influenced selection during domestication.

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"When dogs make the movement, it seems to elicit a strong desire in humans to look after them."

Credit: Pexels
Credit: Pexels

"This would give dogs, that move their eyebrows more, a selection advantage over others and reinforce the 'puppy dog eyes' trait for future generations," she suggested.

Don't blame yourself for being manipulated so easily - previous research has also shown that when dogs do this look, it increases the release of oxytocin - the love hormone - in humans, the same way the level is raised when a parent gazes upon their child.

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And we wouldn't have it any other way.

Featured Image Credit: Pexels

Topics: Life News, Real

Naomi Chadderton

Naomi is a freelance journalist working for Tyla. After graduating from The University of Nottingham, Naomi moved out to Dubai where she worked for Grazia Middle East and Harper's Bazaar Arabia. She is now back home and enjoying the London life.