The Reason Behind the Adorable Dog Head Tilt

One of the great joys of having a dog is seeing the adorable head tilt. You all know what this is and it generally comes when food is mentioned or we inflect our voices using higher tones, posing questions or simply doing the high pitched “doggy voice.” Well, recently a study conducted by Dr. Stanley Coren tells us why our dogs do this. You might be surprised by what he discovered.

We know that dogs continually scan our faces for information and to read our emotional state. Hence it is likely that one reason why dogs may tilt their heads when we talk to them is because they want to see our faces better, and to compensate for the way in which their muzzles obscure part of their vision.

Dogs constantly scan our faces for visual cues, so an obstructive muzzle may be the key to the head tilt. Coren found that only 52% of the brachycephalic dogs (breeds with flatter faces like Pugs and Boston Terriers) tilted their heads when spoken to, while dogs with a more pronounced muzzle showed a 71% tilt rate.

The head tilt is not directly a result of our vocal cues but rather a result of our visual clues. Sure, the inflection of our tone to a higher pitch most likely sparks a dog’s curiosity, but it is what is happening on our faces that has them tilting their head. Pretty cool! For more on this story, head over to Bark Post and be sure to read more of the study by Dr. Stanley Coren at Psychology Today.


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