- Scientists have revealed the dogs that give humans the most expressive stares
- They say it’s not about breed, and instead it comes down to dogs’ facial markings
They’re often referred to as ‘man’s best friend’ – but a new study suggests that when it comes to communication, not all dogs are equal.
The types of dog that give humans the most expressive stares have been revealed by American researchers.
Their findings suggest that it’s not about breed, and it instead comes down to dogs’ facial markings.
Those with one, solid colour face are perceived as more expressive than those with multi-coloured faces, according to the George Washington University researchers.
‘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,’ said Courtney Sexton, lead author of the study.
Their findings suggest that it’s not about breed, and instead it comes down to dogs’ facial markings. Those with one, solid colour face are perceived as more expressive than those with multi-coloured faces, according to the researchers
Since being domesticated around 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 barks and growls mean.
In their new study, the team set out to investigate how dogs’ faces affect their ability to communicate with humans.
The researchers enlisted 100 dog owners, who were asked to record their pets in different conditions.
The team then used a coding system called the Dog Facial Action Coding System to analyse each dog’s behaviour.
This allowed them to create a novel system to scale and evaluate facial markings and patterns on the dogs’ faces.
Participants were also asked to complete a survey on their dog and its expressions.
The results revealed dogs with plainer faces appear to make more facial expressions when interacting with their owner than pups with more complex facial markings.
Older dogs appeared to be less expressive than younger pups, which the researchers suggest may be because older dogs have a more well-established relationship with their owner, so don’t have to work as hard to be understood.
Meanwhile, working dogs or highly trained dogs were also more expressive.
These findings have implications in the real-world, according to the researchers.
‘As dogs become more and more integrated into human society, it’s important that we understand how they communicate with us and how we can better communicate with them,’ said Ms Sexton.
‘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.’
It is easy to believe that dogs like what we like, but this is not always strictly true.
Here are ten things which people should remember when trying to understand their pets, according to Animal behaviour 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 patted
3. A barking dog 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 shyer to begin with
7. A dog that appears friendly can soon become aggressive
8. Dogs need open space and new areas to explore. Playing in the garden won’t always suffice
9. Sometimes a dog isn’t misbehaving, it simply does not understand what to do or what you want
10. Subtle facial signals often preempt barking or snapping when a dog is unhappy