Image of a pug 

The Science of Puppy Love

Researchers explain why many people say “Aw!” when they see a puppy.

Does your heart melt when you look at a puppy? Scientists say they know why you probably just answered “Yes!”

A recent study shows that the muscles in dogs’ faces have changed over thousands of years. Those changes have helped dogs connect with people. The dogs can make expressions like puppy-dog eyes. Those and other cute looks help create bonds between humans and dogs.

The Eyes Have It

Anne Burrows is a professor at Duquesne University and one of the study’s researchers.

“My team and I did work on people who are adopting dogs from shelters,” Burrows says.“We found that dogs who made the sad puppy- dog eyes expression were quickly adopted.” 

That finding led Burrows to believe that this expression and others are important to people.

In fact, she explains, dogs and humans can understand each other just by the looks on their faces.

“Dogs just get us in ways that no other animal does,” says Burrows.

videos (1)