Universal Facial Expressions in Dogs?

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Some people say that dogs look like their owners and let’s face it, some dogs do look like their owners.  But can dog owners read their dog’s facial expressions?

Msn Now has reported that indeed dog owners can read the facial expression of their dogs.  Researchers at Walden University have purported that their research shows that dog owners can interpret the facial expression of happiness, sadness, anger, surprise and disgust on their pooch’s face.

The researchers photographed a Belgian shepherd, Mal, responding to different stimuli in an effort to illicit some universal facial expressions.

According to the researchers it worked.  The shepherd looked surprised by a jack-in-the-box, happy when praised, and even disgusted by terrible tasting medicine.

These photos were then shown to various volunteers who were able to distinguish the facial expression of emotion that he dog was expressing:

88% of participants recognized Mal’s happy face and 70% could tell when he was angry.  Tina Bloom, one of the researchers, noted that certain facial expressions were harder to decipher than others such as disgust, but overall, people could tell what Mal was feeling based on his facial expression.

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A very interesting fact from this research was that people who didn’t own dogs were actually better at deciphering some expressions, which suggests that this may be an innate skill rather then a learned ability.

 What do you think of this study ?

Can you recognize your dog’s facial expressions ?

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