Consider my Nose – How does nose length affect social cognition in dogs?

Toy breeds are increasingly popular as pets. Given that the majority of them is brachycephalic (i.e. short nosed), their popularity might be due to range of features attractive to humans (evoking a “cute” response), such as large heads, flat faces and big eyes. These features are common for human babies or baby animals in general and elicit an increased desire to care. However, it has also been shown that some of these facial features are associated with structural differences in eye anatomy, suggesting that they may be better adapted to and favoured living in a human environment. We will use state-of-the-art eye-tracking and physiological technologies to investigate, whether brachycephalic breeds differ in their attention to and processing of human faces compared to dolichocephalic (long-nosed) breeds. These results will provide fundamental insight into breed-related differences in social cognition. Thus, this project will broaden our understanding for our intrinsic motivation to breed toy breeds and shape realistic owner expectations of their dogs based on relatively simple physical characteristics (relative nose length).


PAUSED DUE TO COVID-19 –> We have developed an alternative line of research for this project. Please see “Recreational acitivities in dogs