Turns out dogs developed those guilt-inducing ‘puppy dog eyes’ through evolution

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Most dog owners fall for it every time. When their dog seemingly wants something, the furry canine will give “puppy dog eyes” in order to get attention.

How dogs developed “puppy dog eyes” can be linked to evolution, according to research.

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America journal examined the evolution of facial expressions expressed by canines. Researchers compared the furry pets to wolves and ran an analysis comparing both species’ facial expressions. Compared with wolves, dogs’ faces have changed which enable dogs to be better communicators with humans.


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The researchers found that dogs have a small muscle above the eye, which allows them to raise their inner eye-brow, and in essence, create the beloved look “puppy dog eyes.” The look enables the dog’s eyes to look larger similar to how humans’ eyes react when they are sad, the study says.

“The findings suggest that expressive eyebrows in dogs may be a result of humans unconscious preferences that influenced selection during domestication,” Dr. Juliane Kaminski said in a statement. “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.”

How facial adaptation started can likely be pegged to dogs’ interactions with humans. Canines have been domesticated for 33,000 years and researchers said that while the facial muscular changes evolved rapidly, it’s directly linked with their “social interactions with humans.”

Hopefully, your dog doesn’t have to give you “puppy dog eyes” in order for you to participate in National Take Your Dog to Work Day, which is Friday, June 21.