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Can Dogs Recognize Our Faces?


The matter of facial recognition is one of huge interest to behaviorists, neuroscientists, people who work with artificial intelligence and many others. Dog owners who wish to know how their dogs recognize them and differentiate between them and strangers are another addition to the group.

People from the University of Helsinki, Finland also wondered about this and they decided to test facial recognition capabilities of domestic dogs. They later published the study in the Animal Cognition journal, the leading publication of its kind.

The way they approached their subject matter was by using pictures of faces shown on a computer screen. In short, they showed dogs pictures of people on the computer. They also used eye movement tracking to test facial inversion effect responses in relation to personal familiarity.

It should not come as a surprise to learn that dogs that live in families show superior capability for facial recognition than those that live in kennels. In addition to this, family dogs displayed greater interest in the area around the eyes. This convinced researchers that the dogs understand these pictures are of human beings.

In addition to this, they also analyzed how dogs responded to inverted faces (shown upside down), knowing well that certain species recognize and process faces differently if they see them wrong-side up. The dogs? They have no problem with this.

The study states:

“Dogs are able to see faces in the images and they differentiate familiar and strange faces from each other. These results indicate that dogs might have facial recognition skills, similar to humans.”

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