Tag Archives: Dogs

Did you know that wolves can’t make puppy eyes?

Even if you have never had a dog you’ve probably seen one make an expression like the one in the photo above. Dogs can raise their inner eyebrows, making so-called “puppy eyes”. It seems that the dog wants to say “I messed up, but you won’t be angry, right?” Or “You really want to leave me home alone?”

However, wolves – dogs’ closest relatives – cannot make puppy eyes. The muscles of dog and wolf faces are practically identical, except for the single muscle that lets dogs raise their eyebrows. Instead, wolves only have a small tendon, which means they cannot be nearly as expressive with their eyebrows. Additionally, dogs raise their inner eyebrow more often than wolves.

But why do dogs differ from wolves in this respect? It seems that humans, consciously or not, selected for “puppy eyes muscles” and behaviour in dogs.

When dogs pull up their inner brow, they eyes look bigger, more similar to big infant eyes. This facial expression is also similar to the one made by us when we are sad. Dogs with more pronounced puppy eyes may have triggered the human nurturing response. They could have gotten more food, more care and have a higher chance of survival. Even nowadays dogs in shelters that make puppy eyes more often find a new home faster.

Pronounced facial expressions, especially around the eyes, are important in human communication. And it seems important for dog – human communication as well. Even if the dog doesn’t always understand us, its expression may at least give an impression of understanding. Also, dogs more often than other domesticated animals seek eye contact with humans and can follow the human gaze, which helps dog-human communication.

Although I’ve spoken generally here, the facial musculature of just a handful of breeds has been tested so far, but all of them had the extra muscle above the eyes. Except for the husky – the breed most closely (among the studied breeds) related to wolves.

Maybe it’s time to start our own observations? Do you know breeds (or individual dogs) that can’t make puppy eyes?

Photo: Dominika Roseclay, Pexels.com

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Do you know the difference between the personalities of “cat people” and “dog people”?

This time the article is about the human animal.

Many people have no problem answering the question whether they are a “cat person” or “dog person”. Some are attracted to dogs’ attachment and obedience, others to the grace and independence of cats. Sometimes it’s about other features, associations or stereotypes, or even just an inexplicable feeling.

Dogs are pack animals, while domestic cats descend from solitary animals and generally speaking dogs and cats differ in personality traits. So, one might expect that people who prefer one over the other would also differ in personalities. But if so, how?

Researchers from the USA decided to check this using an internet personality test and questionnaire. More than 4.5 thousand people from different countries filled in the Big Five Inventory* assessing five main personality traits. Afterwards they answered the question whether they identify themselves as “a dog person”, “a cat person”, “a dog and a cat person” or “neither”.

More than half of the respondents identified themselves as either a cat person or dog person. And their personality scores were indeed different. Dog people (independent of their gender) were more extroverted, agreeable, conscientious and emotionally stable, but less open to experiences (see figure below). Of course, these are only average scores and for sure there are very agreeable cat people or antagonistic dog people.

And what about the people who identify as “a dog and cat person” or as “neither”? Generally speaking, they were more similar to dog people, except that “dog and cat people” were more open to experience, and those choosing “neither” were less extroverted.

Results of personality test for men and women identifying themselves as a cat person or a dog person – for people who want to check their own results* with the averages (results from Big Five inventory that gives results in 1-5 scale; after Gosling et al. 2010)

I decided to test myself to see whether I’m closer to the average dog or cat person (looking only at women’s scores). In most categories I was much closer to dog people, in neuroticism I just in-between can and dog people, and only my introversion is closer to cat people. And this actually matches my preferences. Most of my life I would, without hesitation, have said that I’m a dog person. Dogs are so friendly, sociable and faithful. However, recently cats are becoming more attractive to me, but I’m not sure why.

* Most online tests I found use different questionnaires. I only found the Big Five Inventory here.

Photos: Cat – Japheth Mast, Dog – Daria Shevtsova, Pexels.com

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