So Your Dog Looks Happy? Not So Fast — Check His Eyebrows

A study reveals that the eyebrows (and the left ear) convey important dog emotions. No kidding.


You come home from a long day at work — or just from a trip to the mailbox — and there’s your dog, wiggling and waggling like you’re the best thing in the world and that everything is joy. All that carrying on means dog is happy to see you, right?

Don’t be so sure. Have you checked her eyebrows?

Apparently, the eyebrows are a window to a dog’s emotions, or something like that, according to a study from the department of animal science at Azabu University in Sagamihara, Japan.

Using high-speed cameras, the teams studied the facial expressions of dogs during the moments they were reunited with their owners or when meeting strangers for the first time, according to the Telegraph. The study placed 12 dogs in a room, with black curtains that swept back to reveal different things. The dogs had stickers on their faces, to help track movements with the cameras. What they found is shocking (sort of):

  • A half-second after being reunited with their owners, dogs tended to move their left eyebrow up.
  • When they met someone new, dogs moved their left ear back.
  • When presented with something lame (nail clippers, anyone?), they moved their right ear.

Nobel, anyone?

According to Dr. Miho Nagasawa, “eyebrow movement might indicate a visible response whereby dogs attempted to look at their owners more intently,” which is a good thing. Your dog just wants to eat you all up.

The researchers also found that “the subtle changes on different sides of their face are a reflection of activity in key parts of the brain that control emotions,” according to the Telegraph.

Sometimes, the results puzzled the researchers, as when a dog who sees his owner displays positive as well as negative cues. They marked that down as the dog being so happy to see his owner but so sad he’s in a damn room with a partition and stickers all over his head.

“One explanation for this result is that presentation of the owner elicited both negative and positive emotions,” said Nagasawa. “A negative response might appear … perhaps because the dogs could not approach and touch their owners despite seeing them through the partitions.”

One of the most important findings, however, was how damn cute and silly all these dogs look with stickers all over their faces.

Via the Telegraph

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