Your Dog May Be Devoted to You But Not Your Ugly Mug, Study Says

Photo: Catherine Falls Commercial (Getty Images)

When you get home after a long day of work, there’s a pretty good chance your dog goes absolutely crazy. They bark, jump on you, lick your face, and make all manner of crazy howls and yelps. They act like they thought they’d never see you ever again. This is even with the knowledge that you literally have the same interaction after work every day. They call dogs “man’s best friend” for a reason. They love you, they’re bonded with you, and they miss you when you’re gone. But, when you return home after a long day, it’s not your face they miss. In fact, according to new research, they don’t care about your face very much at all.

The study published early this week in the Journal of Neuroscience found that dogs aren’t as interested in your smiling mug as you think. In fact, they’re much more interested in seeing other dog’s faces than humans. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s watched their dog go from calm and docile to a yelping maniac in 2.5 seconds when they spot a dog on the other side of the street.

They figured out this now obvious fact by looking at MRI scans of humans and dogs watching videos of both humans and dogs. Through the MRI’s the scientists, located in Hungary, figured out that humans have a brain region that lights up when they see any faces (humans, animals, etc.). While this isn’t surprising, what is surprising is that dogs don’t have one at all. But, like humans, dogs have an area that sparks when they see faces of their own species.

So, take a good look at your dog today. They’ll look back lovingly, but it’s not your face they’re devoted to. To base their behavior on your emotions, they also look at facial expressions, your tone of voice, and body language. It doesn’t mean they aren’t your best friend. They just don’t really care what your face looks like.

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