Dogs’ facial expressions can say, “Adopt me”

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This photo of Chuck, snapped at Senatobia-Tate County Animal Shelter and put on Petfinder, tugged at my heart strings, and in no time at all, my husband and I were on our way to Mississippi to adopt him. Now, a recent article in The Telegraph, a UK newspaper, tells me why I was pretty much destined to make that trip.

Chuck's Petfinder photo

Chuck’s raised inner brows were like an “adopt me” sign on his face.

The article reported on a recent study at the University of Portsmouth in the UK. A research team studied 27 shelter dogs, all Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Mastiffs, and analyzed their facial expressions as potential adopters stood in front of their cages. The dogs who raised their inner brows and widened their eyes were adopted faster than those who did not.

The research suggests that wolves that had these child-like expressions might have been more tolerated by humans, thus the characteristics were selected for as wolves moved toward domestication.

Dr. Juliane Kaminski, head of the Dog Cognition Centre at the University and co-author of the study, adds that “it is highly likely that these facial expressions do not make a dog a better pet than one that doesn’t widen its eyes, but this superficial trait is still preferred over other traits, such as tail wagging.”

Well, raised inner brows certainly worked on me. Chuck, now named Cooper, is firmly ensconced in our family.

Want to help more pets make “adopt me” faces? First, get inspired by the Petfinder Foundation‘s top 10 pups and kittens making adopt me faces, then check out our tips for getting purr-fect adoptable cat and great adoptable dog photos!