Study Finds Humans Can Read Dog Facial Expressions

Study Finds Humans Can Read Dog Facial Expressions

A dog's body language, posture, and facial expressions can tell you how they are feeling. Dog owners strive to communicate effectively with their beloved pets and new research out of George Washington University states that humans can read what is written all over their dog's face.

All the time and not just when they misbehave and give you those sad puppy-dog eyes.

The study was published in the journal Animals and revealed that humans were able to read the expressions of a dog with a single-colored (plainer) face easier than multi-colored ones.

"This study explores how facial markings, such as eyebrows, patches, and widow's peaks, are related to expressivity toward humans. We used the Dog Facial Action Coding System (DogFACS) as an objective measure of expressivity, and we developed an original schematic for a standardized coding of facial patterns and coloration on a sample of more than 100 male and female dogs (N = 103), aged from 6 months to 12 years, representing eight breed groups," explained researchers.

Facial movements were observed in the ears, eyes, and muzzle as dog owners looked at their dogs, talked to them, and said unfamiliar words.

The dogs with plainer faces and highly trained dogs appeared to make more facial expressions when interacting with their humans.

According to the study, senior dogs made fewer facial expressions and researchers believed that is because they already established a relationship and understanding with their human, so the extra facial expressions were not necessary.

Interesting, right?!

Lead author of the study, Courtney Sexton, shared why this research is important. "As dogs become more and more integrated into human society, it’s important that we understand how they communicate with us and how we can better communicate with them. If we think about this in terms of welfare contexts, or dogs in shelters, or working dogs and service animals, or interactions with dogs in your neighborhood or people at a dog park, knowing what dogs are trying to tell us and what they might be thinking or feeling can really enhance both their experience and ours when we’re together."

Learn more in the video below.

Check out some more of the dog participants on the study's Instagram page @how_dogs_talk.

Andrea Powell

Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast who resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.

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