We all know the infamous “puppy-dog eyes” and how affectionate that look can be. When your dog looks up at you with those eyes, it is hard to imagine your life before them. There is now new research showing that the bond between humans and dogs is actually stronger than we originally thought.
According to a recent study published in the journal Science, when dogs look at us with “puppy-dog eyes,” our bodies, as well as theirs, are flooded with oxytocin, a chemical that signifies nurture and love that usually forms between people. Researchers also found that the longer the gaze, the more oxytocin that is produced between both canine and human.
The study involved the use of 30 pet owners and their beloved canines, including miniature schnauzers, golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, dachshunds, poodles, as well as a Shetland sheepdog, German shepherd, border collie and boxer.
In order to have a comparison, there was also a study conducted on 11 wolves and the professionals who raised, played and fed them. Researchers saw neither a mutual gaze nor an oxytocin surge.
The Power of Co-Evolution
We all know that the eyes are the windows to the soul, but who knew that could be translated across different species?
According to the findings, the feelings that humans may feel toward their companion dogs are similar to that felt toward human family members. So, how did both dog and human, two species that come from opposite ends of the evolutionary spectrum, come to live together in harmony? The answer is co-evolution. Researchers suggest that dogs inserted themselves into human society by co-opting behavior that draws humans together.