Is That Dog Actually a … Human?


“They can read us so well and that, in part, comes from the poodle side, which is really sensitive and intelligent,” said Ms. Gearhart, whose business, the Doodle Pro, is based in Denver. The golden side is “just friendliness,” she added.

She said she thought these goldendoodle personality traits might make it easier for their owners to anthropomorphize (or attribute human traits to) them, even more so than owners of other breeds do. When we notice aspects of dogs that remind us of ourselves, she said, “I think that helps us have compassion for them.”

Many commenters on TikTok say it’s not just the doodles’ body language that reads as human; it’s their eyes. (Doodle eyes tend to look similar to ours, with large irises and expressive eyebrows.) “Does your dog have normal eyes or does your dog have strangely human eyes that make you think he’s trapped the soul of a human person inside of his body?” asked one TikTok user named Nolan in a sound that went viral. Upon seeing a compilation of doodles with abnormally expressive eyes, another commenter joked, “Yep ….I’m getting a cat.”

“Yeah, their eyes are freakishly human for sure,” Mr. Skutelsky, Brady’s owner, acknowledged. “When I look at him, sometimes, I don’t know, it’s like he’s trying to say something.”

After training hundreds of goldendoodles, Ms. Gearhart said, she has found them to be very expressive with their faces. “I can’t tell you the scientific reasons, but I can tell you just anecdotally, they’re more prone to connected eye contact with us when communicating,” she said.

In 2019, scientists studied the eyebrow muscles and movements of dogs and compared them with those of wolves. They found that “domestication transformed the facial muscle anatomy of dogs specifically for facial communication with humans,” perhaps giving them a more recognizably “human” set of facial expressions.



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