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Shocking discovery tells how man's best friend got their puppy dog eyes

Why do dogs have puppy dog eyes
© Photo by Colin Horn - Unsplash

Those adorable puppy dog eyes are no accident! Scientists have discovered that dogs, over time, have developed a facial muscle designed to capture our hearts and make us melt.

By Alice Lang , 19 Jun 2019

And they call it, puppy love… especially when they do those damn puppy dog eyes. It’s a direct route to our hearts and the treat cupboard.


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But as it turns out, puppy dog eyes are no accident.

How man’s best friend got its puppy dog eyes

The endearing expression is actually a result of 33,000 years of doggy domestication. During this time, a preference for dogs who could pull off the cute yet sad look has caused dog’s facial muscles to evolve.

Our four-legged friends have gradually developed an entirely new forehead muscle called the ‘levator anguli oculi medialis’ or ‘LAOM’ for short. Pretty clever stuff, if you ask us - after all, now they get treats on demand. Damn it.


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“They are very powerful animals in how they capture our hearts,” said Prof Bridget Waller, the director of the Centre for Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Portsmouth, to The Guardian. “We pay a lot of attention to faces, they are meaningful to us, and this expression makes dogs look juvenile and sad. It induces a nurturing response. It’s a cute factor.”

The window to the soul

Dogs achieve the ‘puppy dog’ look by raising the inner eyebrows with use of their LAOM. This slight movement makes their eyes look wider and larger and the face more baby-like. Yep, they’re kinda manipulating us, guys…

Scientists discovered the muscle through the dissection of six dogs (don’t worry, no dogs were killed for the research) - a labrador, a bloodhound, a chihuahua, a German shepherd, a Siberian husky and a mongrel.


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They also dissected four grey wolves - but it turns out, they had no LAOM muscle whatsoever. Since the muscle was missing in the non-domesticated dog, scientists believe that the LAOM was simply created due to the domestication process. Makes sense, huh?

Well, now we know exactly why our fluffy family members have the ability to pull that adorable face. Still, we'll probably be straight into the treat cupboard next time they do it anyway...


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