Do dogs love us back?
Have you ever looked at your dog and wondered ‘Does my pooch love me just as much as I love them?’
We dote on our beloved four-legged friends – and with all the attention they give us (far more than their moggy counterparts), we’d be forgiven for thinking they’re equally as barking mad about us as we are about them.
But is there science to back this up? What do the experts say?
Before we look into this in more detail, have you protected your pooch with insurance?
We don’t like to think of our hounds getting ill or injured, but if they needed to be taken to the vets, dog insurance can help to cover the costs.
Meaning, you can focus on nursing your pet back to full health, rather than worry about your finances.
Go Get It is a dog insurance comparison website helping owners find the right level of cover for their canine, for the right price.
You can choose from four levels of dog insurance – accident only, time limited, maximum benefit and lifetime cover – all provided by leading UK pet insurers.
So, how do dogs see humans?
Good news, dog owners: your pet pooch does love you! Picking apart this subject, a Guardian article writes how science has confirmed that the majority of hounds actively choose proximity to humans.
Within their first few months on Earth, puppies show a preference towards humans above their own kind, dogs experience separation anxiety when their owners leave them, and studies show that the blood pressure of pooches lowers when we stroke them.
There’s no question about it: our dogs love us as if we’re one of their family.
What does science say?
Now, here’s where it gets a little technical. Studies of brain chemicals back up the argument that our dogs do, in fact, adore us.
In all mammals (including dogs and humans) the behaviours that bond people are maintained through a mix of molecules that are absorbed by the brain in various ways.
Many of these are regulated by brain hormones that include vasopressin and oxytocin – aka the ‘love’ molecule.
Oxytocin spikes during certain situations, like while nursing offspring or giving birth, but also when we see people who we love, especially family members.
The interesting thing is that dogs experience an oxytocin surge not only when interacting with other hounds, but also (unlike almost any other mammal) when they interact with humans.
In fact, cats also experience this surge, but only at one-fifth of the scale as dogs. See… they’re not called ‘man’s best friend’ for nothing!
Where did the bond begin?
The truth is, no one knows where the strong bond between dog and human began.
As Time writes, the earliest remains of dogs and humans buried together stretch back around 14,000 years, but a number of unconfirmed discoveries are said to be more than twice as old.
It’s a genetic miracle that this cross-species bond was formed.
Dogs and wolves share 99.9% of their mitochondrial DNA, making them almost indistinguishable, yet there are a few ‘genetic scraps’ that make a huge difference.
Researchers investigating chromosome six, for instance, uncovered three genes that code for hyper-sociability – and they feature in the same spot for dogs as similar genes linked to the trait among humans. As Time explains:
‘Our ancestors didn’t know what genes were many millennia ago, but they did know that every now and then, one or two of the midsize scavengers with the long muzzles that came nosing around their campfires would gaze at them with a certain attentiveness, a certain loving neediness, and that it was awfully hard to resist them.’
So, our ancestors welcomed these scavengers in from the cold and eventually called them ‘dogs’.
Meanwhile, the close kin that weren’t blessed with the ‘good’ genes would later come to be called wolves, dingoes, jackals or coyotes, and were left to fend for themselves in the environment in which they were born.
There was a symbiotic relationship between dogs and humans: dogs would hunt and herd, and humans would pay them in food and shelter.
But even when fewer and fewer people needed a working dog, they were still happy to pay them their food and shelter without any tangible return.
By then, humans had fallen head over heels for their hounds!
And here’s an interesting fact: the word ‘puppy’ is thought to have derived from the French word poupée, or doll – defining an object on which we lavish irrational affection.
Which breeds are the most loving?
In the same way that some humans are more affectionate than others, some dog breeds are renowned for their loving traits.
Here are the top ten breeds, as shared in a list by the Bark Post:
- Labrador Retriever
- Golden Retriever
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Pit Bull
- Brussels Griffon
- Old English Sheepdog
- Irish Wolfhound
- Great Dane
- English Bulldog
How do dogs show their affection?
Unlike humans, dogs are unable to tell their owners that they love them. So, they show them they love them instead! According to the Spruce Pets, signs of puppy love include:
- Holding eye contact.
- Leaning against you, which shows they feel safe, secure and completely comfortable.
- Sleeping in your bedroom, as they don’t want to be separated from you.
- Getting super excited when you get back from work.
- ‘Checking in’ on you regularly if you’re in another room.
- Seeking physical contact.
- Bringing you their favourite toy.
Love… it’s a two-way thing!
Ask any owner and they’ll agree that owning a dog that loves you unconditionally is one of the best feelings in the world.
You can show your love for your pooch by taking excellent care of them, giving them lots of hugs and attention, and making sure they are protected against life’s little mishaps with pet insurance.
Use Go Get It for dog insurance comparison and find a policy with a whole heap of benefits including no upper age limit, potential multi-pet discounts, overseas travel cover, special diets, dentistry and more.