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Head shape, breed function play a part in dog-to-human communication

By Kyle Barnett
Head shape, breed function play a part in dog-to-human communication
Hungarian researchers report dogs with longer noses and side set eyes -- like the pictured Italian Greyhound -- have more difficulty communicating with humans. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

April 29 (UPI) -- Boxers, bulldogs, pugs and snub-nosed dogs are the best communicators, according to a recent academic study focusing on communication between humans and dogs.

A Hungarian study suggests dog breeds with smaller faces, forward-set eyes and shorter noses are better at visual communication than others.

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The study, published Thursday in Nature, assessed the ability of dogs to recognize human speech and facial expressions.

"Forming eye contact is important in dog-human communication," researchers wrote in the study.

Researchers at Eötvös Loránd University's department of ethology focused on 150 dogs, measuring the length and width of their heads, because their makeup can drastically affect their vision patterns.

Breeds with longer noses and eyes oriented to the sides, such as greyhounds, were less likely to pick up on human cues, according to the researchers.

Those with smaller faces and noses, however, were more likely to see humans more clearly.

"It is likely, that they see the human face more sharply because of their special retina, but it is also possible that their owners gaze at them more often as their facial features resemble a small child, a powerful cue for humans," study first author Zsófia Bognár said in a press release.

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"Because of this, dogs with shorter noses may be more experienced in making eye contact," said Bognár, a doctoral student at Eötvös Loránd.

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