Many dogs and their owners tend to look alike!
Scientists have known for years that even strangers can correctly match owners to their dogs with a high rate of success. But the exact attributes that dogs and people share remained a mystery.
New dog research conducted in Japan has pointed to a clue. According to report by Slate, the factor dogs and humans have in common is the eyes.
The researchers recruited around 500 college students and asked them to look at photos of 40 people and dogs to arrive at this conclusion. All photos showed dogs and people from the shoulders up against white backgrounds. The people and dogs were paired, some in the correct combination of owner and pet, others randomly. The participants’ test was to pick out which combinations were of actual pets and owners. They chose correctly 80 percent of the time.
For the next part, the researchers hid parts of the photos, covering either the dog’s or the human’s eyes or mouth. With a success rate of 73%, the participants still did well when the mouths were covered. But the rate dropped drastically when the eyes were covered, with success becoming a matter of random chance.
The researchers were encouraged by this finding. Slate writes, the team cropped the images to only show the eyes of the humans and their dogs. Amazingly, the students who saw just the eye photos had a 74 percent success rate.
This suggests that the key give-away linking dog and human is the eyes. What specifically give us what Slate called an “apparently superhuman (or at least subconscious) ability to extract meaningful psychological cues from eyes” remains not known.
There must be something about those adorable doggie eyes that connects humans to the pets they pick.