‘Puppy eyes’ explained

New research suggests dogs have developed new muscles around their eyes to better communicate with humans

Phil Siarri
Jun 28, 2019 · 3 min read
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Black and white version of “Dog” by Pexels (Pixabay)

A key difference between wolves and dogs

In a comprehensive analysis comparing the anatomy and behavior of dogs and wolves, researchers found that the facial musculature of both species was quite similar, except… above the eyes. It turns out dogs have a small muscle, which enables them to thoroughly raise their inner eyebrow. Wolves just do not have such feature.

“The Science Behind Puppy Dog Eyes” by Fox5NY, YouTube.
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Facial musculature in the dog (left) and wolf (right) with anatomical differences highlighted in red. Credit: Tim Smith (artist), Fair Use.

Evolutionary pressure

Co-author and anatomist Adam Hartstone-Rose, at North Carolina State University explains that “These muscles are so thin that you can literally see through them — and yet the movement that they allow seems to have such a powerful effect that it appears to have been under substantial evolutionary pressure. It is really remarkable that these simple differences in facial expression may have helped define the relationship between early dogs and humans.”

“When Did Wild Wolves Become Pet Dogs?” by Science Plus, YouTube.
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“Paw” by Clker-Free-Vector-Images (Pixabay)

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