Do You Understand Your Dog’s Facial Expressions? Know what they say…

Dogs facial expression

Your dog’s appearance, both physical and emotional may play an important role in how well you understand your furry friend.

Researchers in the United States have found that most dogs change their physical appearance, especially facial expressions when they come into contact with humans.

Most pet owners even don’t understand how it changes and when it changes and the reasons behind it – even though humans have been domesticating dogs for tens of thousands of years. Though, many pet owners try to focus on their pets’ facial expressions in any attempt to understand their moods.

A recent study revealed, it is not easy to do, especially in the time, when your dog’s facial features certain physical traits.

A group of researchers at George Washington University in the United States of America have found that many dogs with complex facial expressions i.e. those with patterned faces — are less easily understood than those with normal or plainer, or more uniform facial appearances.

To come to a conclusion, the researchers asked the 103 dog owners, who are mostly aged over 6 to 12 months of age, to shot videos of their furry friends in several situations.

Researchers used these video recordings done by the pet owners to analyze the dogs’ facial expressions using a standardized coding system, known as “The Dog Facial Action Coding System”. Participants were also asked to answer a questionnaire in which they noted their personal interpretation of their dog’s facial expressions.

An article has been published describing this methodology, in the journal “Animals”, highlighting the facts that most dogs with “plainer or simpler” faces “appear to be more expressive” in the presence of humans than their counterparts with more complex facial markings.

These “simpler facial dogs” have more pronounced facial expressions, and move their eyebrows or muzzle more, for instance.

The researchers believe, these differences are not actually biological but rather evolutionary. The fact is – Dogs seem to have adapted their behavioural expressions of the face significantly to interact with humans, regardless of the influence of physical features.

Dogs have also developed early emerging social skills to prepare and allow for cooperative communication with humans. This is a special skill for sure, which is truly amazing that dogs adopted through evolution.

The best thing is – dogs have modified their behaviour and appearance through contact with humans. This explains why researchers have noticed that geriatric dogs are less demonstrative than their younger counterparts when it comes to interacting with their owners. As a matter of fact, these dogs need to make as much effort to make themselves understood compared to younger dogs, since they have a longer relationship with their owners.

Dogs are not the only animals that improved their communication skills over the course of time. Human companions of middle-aged dogs i.e., those between 2-7 years, are especially good at understanding their pet’s facial expressions, particularly if they have an “easy-to-read” face.

This finding will be of interest not only to dog owners, but also to anybody who comes into contact with the – “man’s forever best friend.”

As dogs become more and more integrated into human society, it is, therefore, essential to know and to understand how our dogs communicate with us, who they convey messages with facial expressions, so that we can be their best friends forever.

Knowing what your dogs are trying to tell you, and what they may be thinking or feeling can really improve both their experience and ours when we’re together.

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If you are a dog lover, don’t forget to share your experience!

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About the Author: Kabbyik

Kabbyik Mitra, a voracious reader and health writer. He is a health & lifestyle journalist. Kabbyik is a yoga enthusiast practicing yoga for last 7-year. He is a certified yoga therapist, a science writer, communicator and journalist. He has been practicing yoga and training people to live a healthy and happy life. Get in touch with him via email: for any yoga related queries.

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