Puppy Dog Eyes Did Not Evolve to Melt Human Hearts Due to Domestication, Wild Dogs Possess Them as Well [Study]

Puppy dog eyes are quite familiar to pet owners and dog enthusiasts, whose hearts are often captured every time domestic dogs do these, primarily to seek for food, attention, or love. These glares have been characterized as having big round eyes with a soft stare while the eyebrows are raised. Due to this trait, many perceive that puppy eyes evolved due to domestication by humans.

However, a recent study earlier this year led by researchers in the United States debunks the existing notion that puppy dog eyes evolved only for humans. Researchers from Midwestern University in Glendale, Arizona, found that even wild dogs also possess the unique puppy eyes, showing it is not only exclusive to humans. Instead, it indicates the trait to be a result of dog evolution.

Puppy Dog Eyes

Puppy Eyes Did Not Evolve to Melt Human Hearts Due to Domestication, Wild Dogs Possess Them as Well [Study]
(Photo : Photo by Austin Kirk on Unsplash)

In the study published in the journal The Anatomical Record on April 10, the Midwestern University research team arrived at their conclusion about the evolution of puppy dog eyes by analyzing the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus). Based on morphological evidence, the team found facial muscles related for having puppy eyes are also found among wild dogs and are not unique to pet dogs.

For centuries, since the work of Charles Darwin titled “On the Origin of Species,” biologists have collectively agreed that current living organisms, including animals, descended from a common ancestral species, whose appearance may be different. For instance, modern dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) evolved as descendants of some ancient wolves following human domestication and selective breeding for thousands of years.

Also Read: Wolves Communicate with their Eyes?

Dog Evolution

Based on recent molecular evidence on dog evolution, scientists show that modern domestic dogs descended from the gray wolf (Canis lupus) approximately 130,000 years ago. Yet, the morphological appearance of members of the family Canidae, which includes C. lupus familiaris, changed over time. Particularly, there are different dog breeds today, ranging from toy poodles to Great Danes, and golden retrievers.

According to experts, the seemingly different appearances of modern dogs are due to the prolonged and consistent selective breeding by humans, resulting in the artificial evolution of dogs into the many types we see today. This means that the once domesticated wolves have current descendants which not only have different appearances but also behavior and internal biological strengths.

US Pet Ownership Statistics

In contemporary times, dogs along with cats are the most popular household pets. In the US alone, 62 million households own a pet dog and with a total of 83.7 million to 88.8 million individual dogs nationwide, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The data is based on a survey conducted by the association in early 2021 through online surveys.

The US pet ownership data shows that dogs are followed by cats, with the latter having a total population of 60.2 million to 61.9 million across the US. In this figure, around 37 million households own a cat.

Related Article: Studies Find That Dogs Are Capable of ‘Happy Tears’

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