Scientists say dogs show facial expressions

Scientists say dogs show facial expressions

The expression most closely resembles a look of sadness among humans, and previous research has shown humans react more emphatically to dogs with puppy dog eyes.

"We can not in any way speculate what dogs might "mean" with whatever facial movement they produce", she wrote, adding that it's also unknowable whether the dogs "make eyes" in order to manipulate people.

The researchers studied 24 family pet dogs of various breeds, aged one to 12.

The scientists' theory about dogs communicating was bolstered by the fact that the dogs' expressions didn't change drastically when they received food. Whether the owner had food or not had no impact on the dogs' use of facial expressions.

Other studies on dog behavior suggest dogs are smiling at us and dog behavior allows our canine buds to identify human facial expressions and engage in the same social behaviors as humans, scanning faces and eyes to analyze intent and identify threats.

A new study adds some credence to that belief.

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Ears at half-mast, eyes beaten dog, curled-up lips: the best friend a man could engage in these facial expressions to convey a message and not only in the grip of an emotion, according to a study published Thursday in Scientific Reports.

Raising the brows, which makes the eyes appear bigger to produce heart-melting "puppy dog eyes", was the most commonly-used expression, the researchers found.

"Facial expression is often seen as something that is very emotionally driven and is very fixed, and so it isn't something that animals can change depending on their circumstances", said Bridget Waller, professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of Portsmouth, and an author of the study.

Dr Kaminski said that previously it was thought that animal expressions were involuntary and dependant on the individual's emotional state, rather than being a response to their audience.

"We can now be confident that the production of facial expressions made by dogs are dependent on the attention state of their audience and are not just a result of dogs being excited", Juliane Kaminski, researcher at Portsmouth's Dog Cognition Center, said in a news release.

"We also wanted to see if dogs would produce the most facial expressions when they saw the face and the food, because that might then tell us they are trying to intentionally manipulate the human in order to get the food - and we didn't see that [either]", said Waller.

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