Distinguishing between familiar and unfamiliar faces is relatively easy for humans. It has a lot to do with our brains and the way they have evolved. But have you ever wondered how dogs recognize family members?
Keep reading to learn a little more about it.
Dogs and their senses
No one contradicts enough that dogs are the most loyal and inseparable of all pets. They are the first to greet you when you get home and arrive immediately.
Everyone knows that dogs can recognize humans extremely quickly thanks to their excellent sense of smell; it is actually their strongest and most well-developed mind.
This can be seen in the huge amount of fragrance receptors they have: an estimated 200-300 million according to researchers. This is huge compared to man’s 5 million.
A dog’s sense of smell is one of its best ways to recognize things and people.
But that does not mean that sight and sound are not important to them either. It is actually their ability to combine scent and sight that allows them to distinguish between different people and animals.
How dogs recognize family members and other people
There are many studies that claim that the areas around the cerebral cortex that are activated when a dog sees a face are the same as those that are activated in us. This means that they actually use sight to distinguish between people.
If we go even further, there is scientific evidence to suggest that dogs may rely entirely on face recognition in some cases. So they only need to see one face to be able to recognize the person.
This of course means that they may have problems recognizing us when our faces are hidden, after which they will instead rely on the sense of smell.
They can not only distinguish faces, but also recognize many of the facial expressions we make. Even more interesting is the fact that dogs prefer to see the faces of their own species more than any other.
Dogs recognize family members who are also dogs
The mystery of whether dogs can recognize us is thus solved. But then the question remains whether they also have this ability with members of their own kind.
Again, we can find the answer to this with the help of scientific studies.
In one of them, the researchers placed four puppies in front of two bitches. One of them was their mother. The results showed that in a majority of cases, the puppies preferred to go to and spend time with their biological mother.
But after the puppies grew up and became adults then? To see if they can still recognize their mother, the researchers used clothing.
One had the scent of the mother and the other of a dog of the same breed. The results were again positive. The 2-year-old dogs recognized the mother’s scent even though they had been separated.
We still do not know much about the biomechanics that are active in this process. However, it is further definitive proof that dogs can recognize their loved ones.
If you’ve ever thought about that, you do not have to worry; your dog will recognize you even outside the home!