When looking at your dog's cute face, you think you've noticed that he has eyebrows, just like humans do. But are you really seeing eyebrows, or is that something else?
By learning about dogs' supposed eyebrows, you can see how your pup is trying to communicate with you and other humans.
Do dogs have eyebrows?
While dogs don't have eyebrow hair like humans, they do have a brow ridge that appears on their facial bone structure as well as on their facial muscles. Some breeds, like Rottweilers, German Shepherds, and Dobermans, have fur that is a different color above their eyes, and Pugs and Boxers have prominent brow ridges.
How dogs use their eyebrows to communicate with humans
According to a study by the University of Portsmouth, as dogs became domesticated, they began to develop a facial muscle that lets them raise their inner eyebrow, unlike wolves. This gives them that signature puppy dog or sad eye look. The eyebrow movement makes their eyes larger and mimics the look that humans make when they are sad. When dogs do it, their humans may be more nurturing towards them.
According to Psychologist Dr. Juliane Kaminski at the University of Portsmouth, who led the study, "When dogs make the movement, it seems to elicit a strong desire in humans to look after them. This would give dogs that move their eyebrows more a selection advantage over others and reinforce the 'puppy dog eyes' trait for future generations."
Dogs may also use their facial muscles to look questioning, curious, or unbelieving. According to Alexandra Horowitz, a senior research fellow at the Barnard College Dog Cognition Lab, if a dog is making a facial expression it means he is paying attention. Aside from primates, dogs are the only animals that can express themselves in such humanlike ways, said Horowitz.
How to tell if your dog is sad
Researchers don't really know how dogs feel since dogs can't talk to us. However, there are some signs, other than puppy dog eyes, that your dog may be sad.
For instance, your dog may not want to participate in his favorite activities like going to the dog park or playing fetch with you. He might sleep a lot more, not eat as much, appear restless or have a change in behavior. He may go to the bathroom inside of the house, become aggressive, or chew up objects.
If your dog has recently gone through some changes, it could have an effect on his mood. Dogs tend to become more emotional if their environment has changed, a new person or pet has moved in or left, or you aren't paying as much attention to them as you used to.
You should cuddle your pup as much as possible, play games with him, walk him, and ensure you're keeping to his normal schedule. It's a good idea to provide him with plenty of toys to play with throughout the day and reward him with his favorite treats when he does something good.
As always, make sure you take your dog to the vet for a checkup if any of these remedies don't work. He could be experiencing a health issue, especially if he's older. You need to rule out any physical ailments.
Dogs do not have eyebrows in the same way that humans do, but they do have brow ridges that they use to make facial expressions like "puppy dog eyes." This brow ridge, and the ability to move it, probably evolved to elicit nurturing feelings in humans.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.