It’s a look that dog owners will know well, and now scientists have revealed why dogs have evolved to give us ‘puppy dog eyes.’
Researchers from the University of Portsmouth have revealed that dogs have evolved new muscles around the eyes to better communicate with humans.
In the study, the researchers compared the anatomy and behaviour of dogs and wolves, and looked at how they’ve changed over thousands of years.
Their analysis revealed that the two species’ facial structure is similar, except above the eyes.
While dogs have a small muscle that allows them to intensely raise their inner eyebrow, wolves don’t have this muscle.
The researchers suggest that the inner eyebrow movement makes the dogs’ eyes appear larger and more infant-like, triggering a nurturing response in humans.
Dr Juliane Kaminski, who led the study, said: “The evidence is compelling that dogs developed a muscle to raise the inner eyebrow after they were domesticated from wolves.
“We also studied dogs’ and wolves’ behaviour, and when exposed to a human for two minutes, dogs raised their inner eyebrows more and at higher intensities than wolves.
“The findings suggest that expressive eyebrows in dogs may be a result of humans unconscious preferences that influenced selection during domestication.
“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.”
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