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Baby-face dogs best at finding new home

Dogs may have learned to cash in on a human weakness for childlike faces, new research suggests.

In the study, rescue dogs that were best able to pull on the heartstrings of prospective owners were most likely to get new homes.

Their secret was to raise their inner brows and make their eyes appear larger – like those of a baby.

Scientists believe it is evidence that domestic dogs have evolved to capitalise on a natural human preference for child-like faces.

ATTRACTION

The findings may also explain the attraction of people with big and cute "puppy dog" or "doe" eyes.

Study leader Dr Bridget Waller, an expert in social communication from the University of Portsmouth, said: "The results of this research suggest that wolves which produced child-like expressions may have been more tolerated by humans, and so modern dogs have inherited these features.

"Our study suggests that dogs' facial movements have evolved in response to a human preference for childlike characteristics. In other words, we might have automatically opted for dogs which produced facial movements that enhanced their baby-like faces.

"Raised inner brows are also closely associated with sadness in humans and so another possibility is that humans are responding to a perceived sadness in the dog."

hnews@herald.ie


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