New research has shown that when your dog gazes at you with "puppy dog eyes", it's not a sign of vulnerability. It's actually a result of thousands of years of canine evolution which have changed dogs' facial structure precisely so they can "manipulate" our affections.
Research carried out on wolf and dog heads set out to discover if there had been any effects of domestication on the species. The studies showed that the muscle composition around the eyes was a key area where differences between wolf and dog occurred.
Other experts agreed that this was correspondent with theories about domestication and dogs' evolution to communicate with humans. The idea is that the wolves who were best able to elicit human sympathy received the most scraps from our ancestors, and this was through subconscious imitation of the eyes of vulnerable, attentive children. Over thousands of years, they evolved to better emulate this and play on human vulnerabilities.
Similar research carried out at a shelter found a correlation between dogs producing the "eyebrow raise" facial movement and being rehomed sooner.
The new research has show that the ability to do "the eyes" is physical as well as behavioural, and has developed since dogs split evolutionarily from wolves. As such, wolves are unable to perform the same eye movements as their muscle composition does not allow it. Their facial muscles are almost identical to dogs' apart from the exact muscle which allows dogs to move their eyebrows.
Whether the eye movement is intentional, however, is another question entirely, and so whether or not they are indeed "manipulating" their parents cannot be certain. At least that's what they want us to think...
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