FunNature & AnimalWhy does my dog make a sad face?

Why does my dog make a sad face?


Only a predator could have become a dog

The predatory animal has the ability to anticipate where it will flee or what the intention of its prey will be. This gives you an advantage when hunting it. Something like the soccer goalkeeper who guesses in which direction the striker will shoot a penalty and thus manages to stop it. 

Hunters and scavengers

Dogs are hunters, and present in their behavioral repertoire the innate tendency to hunt. Thanks to her, they have been able to help us in tasks such as herding or searching for lost people.

In herding dogs, the phase of hunting behavior that has been enhanced through artificial selection is the stalking phase. Dogs that look for traces, whether they are people or substances, use their powerful sense of smell to initiate the phases of the hunt that correspond to the breath, the trace and the signaling.

Dogs are also scavengers. Due to their co-evolution with human beings, they have dedicated themselves to taking advantage of our food waste. This is especially important in periods of scarcity and has allowed them to survive.

the art of asking

Dogs, as we have indicated, are capable of recognizing other people’s intentions. Especially ours. This allows them to redirect their behavior based on our response. And that has led them to be experts in the art of asking.

If you have a dog, you’ve had its chin on your thigh and its little butchered lamb eyes looking at you desolate.

And you don’t give it. But the day you invite your parents, your dog asks them with the same strategy.

Your dog knows that with this strategy he is capable of achieving his goals. And it is not a matter of learning, but of their genes.

Their sad faces are the result of their genetic inheritance

And specifically, dogs have two facial muscles, the RAOL (Retractor Anguli Oculi Lateralis) and LAOM (Levator Anguli Oculi Medialis). These muscles allow them to frown in a frown. They are something like our eyebrows.

Do these muscles appear in all dogs?

One of these muscles, namely LAOM, does not appear uniformly in wolves. And the most ancient dogs could also be difficult to locate.

However, it seems that humans may have been selecting this muscle unconsciously for many thousands of years, its greatest use being for dogs to communicate with us. This has given them an adaptive advantage over many species of wolves, which were slaughtered.

Dogs are aware of their power

Scientists have proven that dogs intentionally move and modify the movement of these muscles based on their observer’s response.

In addition, for example, during a meal they are able to identify the most generous diner and attack him with their pity faces.

If there is no answer, they will go for the next “victim”

adaptive advantages

In addition to having favored them in the selection, establishing these muscles in the species.

Today, there are studies that prove that dogs with these more developed muscles are adopted sooner.

What to do when my dog makes me that sad face

Understand it: the first thing is to understand that asking is part of its condition as a dog , therefore, we cannot get angry.

Do not reinforce it: if he asks for food, it is best to ignore him. Looking at it is reinforcing it, just like falling into “blackmail” even sporadically. This is not good for your dog and it could end up tyrannizing you.

Teach him an alternative – If your dog is already in the habit of asking because you reinforced it on occasion, train him and teach him an alternative behavior.

Make sure his needs are met: increase his social activity with other dogs and his exploration walks. In addition to ordering your routines and being consistent with them.

Feed him well and before: do not believe the “park expert” who tells you that your dog should eat after the family to give him his place. It will be easier to teach him and change the habit of asking if he is not so highly motivated. That is, if he’s not starving.

Dogs are an amazing species, from a biological point of view they have conquered the entire planet and I hope that after this article you will know a little more about the factors that have brought them here. Among them, LAOM and RAOL.



Coppinger, R., & Coppinger, L. 2001. Dogs: A startling new understanding of canine origin, behavior & evolution. Simon and Schuster.

Kaminski, J., et al. 2019. Evolution of facial muscle anatomy in dogs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences116(29), 14677-14681.

Waller, B. M., et al. 2013. Paedomorphic facial expressions give dogs a selective advantage. PLoS one8(12), e82686.



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