Good boy! Puppy dog eyes evolved just for you

Top dog: “We created this infant-like creature,” says scientist Juliane Kaminski.

Is your dog really your best friend? A new study explains why they are so good at making “puppy dog” eyes at their owners. The expression is often irresistible to humans.

What’s happening

If you are a dog owner, you will be very familiar with “that look”. Maybe your dog makes it when it is time for a walk. Maybe it has had an “accident” on the carpet.

The eyebrows go up. The eyes go wide. Your heart melts. Now, scientists say dogs evolved that way because humans liked it.

Find out more

A new study has found two facial muscles in dogs that wolves do not have. They connect a dog’s eyes to either end of its brows.

This is why dogs can raise their eyebrows.

The scientists believe that the muscles developed as dogs evolved from wolves.

Early humans were more likely to have looked after dogs for which they felt sympathy. Over time, dogs got better at evoking that sympathy by making cute faces.

This is called “artificial selection”. Are dogs really our friends?

Some say…

No. They are using their “puppy dog” eyes to manipulate us! We may think we have a special bond with our pet pooch. In reality, they are using 33,000 years of evolution to trick us.

Others think…

The bond is real. We love it when our dogs make cute faces — and they love us back. If their owners are trapped, for example, dogs will get upset and try to free them. Good dog!

You Decide

  1. Are dogs better than cats?

Activities

  1. Write a short story through the eyes of a pet dog. How does it get what it wants?

Some People Say...

“A dog is the only thing on Earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”

Josh Billings, US writer (1818-1885)

What do you think?

Word Watch

Evolved
Slowly changed over many thousands of years.
Facial
Related to the face.
Developed
Changed.
Sympathy
A feeling of understanding, or feeling sorry for someone or, in this instance, an animal.
Evoking
Making someone feel something.
Artificial selection
Breeding animals for useful traits.
Manipulate
Trick someone into doing something.
Evolution
The process of evolving. This is how all animals on Earth developed from very simple life. The idea was first explained by Charles Darwin.

Subjects

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