Canine or human? Who’s really running the show?

As any dog owner will attest, they’re just the best! The best companions, the best workmates, the best protectors, the best babysitters, the best listeners and sympathisers and the very best manipulators of your emotions!

Que? Yes, it’s possible that you’re not the master in your relationship. Could your sweet, furry mate have evolved to make sure he or she is in charge? It seems so but it’s not all bad…

We know for a fact that when you looked that puppy in the eyes, your oxytocin (the love hormone) surged… in both parties. In humans, the response is extremely similar to that between a parent and a new-born baby. We’re still waiting for a dog to explain their reaction but we do know it leads to bonding.

Puppy dog eyebows control our response
Awww… hes so cute! Lets take him home?

Now, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), our lovable fur babies have another trick up their proverbial sleeve. It’s that muscle that allows them to raise their inner eyebrow. You know – the one that gives them that adorable, quizzical look!

After dissecting heads of both dogs and wolves, researchers discovered that the muscle in dogs’ faces that allows them to “intensely” raise their eyebrows, does not consistently exist in wolves.

Today’s dogs evolved from their wolf ancestor somewhere around 33,000 years ago. It seems likely that dogs who were able to move their eyebrows in this way were given a “selection advantage” over others. This meant that they were more likely to be cared for. Well fed dogs are more likely to breed and so that advantage prospers.

Dogs evolved from wolves around 33,000 years ago.
Dogs evolved from wolves around 33,000 years ago.

“When dogs make the movement, it seems to elicit a strong desire in humans to look after them,” according to the study’s co-author, Dr. Juliane Kaminski at the University of Portsmouth.

Yes, it evokes a maternal/paternal response in us that convinces us – yet again – that your dog is just the cutest thing that’s ever set foot on this planet.

But let me share a little secret, your dog isn’t. Mine is!

As an aside, I’ve just read a fascinating book called “The dogs that made Australia”. It gives an extraordinary insight into the massive economic contribution dogs have made to this country.

Another, much shorter read is our post titled “Why Losing a Dog Can Be Harder Than Losing a Friend or Relative“…

Now, since I have a dog standing in front of me with a leash in its mouth, I think I’ll decide to go for walk 🙂