JAN 18, 2018 05:54 AM PST

Why does my dog tilt her head?

4 16 1427

If you have a dog, you've almost certainly noticed some head-tilting behavior once in a while. If you've ever fallen prey to the cuteness of it and given into another treat, you're not alone. But surprise, surprise, dogs don't actually tilt their heads to appear cuter to us humans - they do it to hear and see better.

According to studies led by a psychologist named Stanley Coren, who studies dogs and their behaviors, dogs with bigger muzzles express the "puzzled tilt" in an attempt to align their faces with ours, in order to better see or hear us (or anything else). Coren tested this idea by asking over 500 dog owners how frequently their dogs tilted their heads and then separated the data into the breeds of dogs based on how long their muzzles are. Coren found that owners of brachycephalic dogs (those like pugs with short muzzles) reported their dogs tilting their heads only 52% of the time when spoken to. Meanwhile, owners of mesaticephalic and dolichocephalic breeds (those with longer muzzles) like beagles and greyhounds reported their dogs tilting their heads 71% of the time when spoken to. Both of those numbers are significant. Try it out with your dog!

Another psychologist named Alexandra Horowitz thinks there is more to the story: dogs aren't just trying to get a better view at us when we talk to them, they're trying to hear us better, too. Horowitz hypothesizes that dogs tilt their heads to adjust the floppy parts of their ears called pinnae in order to get a better sense of where the sounds are coming from. Do you have your own hypothesis of why our dog tilts her head? Write in the comments!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JUL 02, 2018
Videos
JUL 02, 2018
Veterans, PTSD, and Fireworks: What to Know
It’s almost Independence Day and while there will be fireworks displays, sparklers and other pyrotechnics for the holiday, what many people don&rsquo
JUL 18, 2018
Videos
JUL 18, 2018
Brain Differences in Men and Women
Men and women are different, of that there is no doubt. In neuroscience, there has been a lot of research into these differences, as they relate to treatin
JUL 23, 2018
Videos
JUL 23, 2018
Is your commute harming your health?
How far do you commute every day? According to US Census data, the average daily commute...
AUG 09, 2018
Videos
AUG 09, 2018
Can You Drink Too Much Water?
Especially during a long hot summer, staying hydrated is essential. Dehydration can have severe consequences in children, the elderly and those with immune
AUG 10, 2018
Videos
AUG 10, 2018
Can the Black Death Make a Comeback?
The bacterium that causes plague was never wiped out.
AUG 13, 2018
Videos
AUG 13, 2018
Is Earth Running Out of Helium?
If current global demand continues, we can face a shortage of helium within the next 40 years. Helium is the second most common element after hydrogen
Loading Comments...