PHOENIX – There are 80 million pet dogs in the United States, and the secret to understanding our furry friends may be getting a little easier.
In a new book by a professor at Arizona State University, he explains a dog’s special capacity to love us, and other species.
With dogs, almost everyone talks about them in the same exact way. They are comforting, and they just want to love you. That is exactly why ASU Professor Clive Wynn says they are so special.
“Every individual dog is born with the genetic capacity to form loving bonds with human beings,” said Wynne, who is also an animal psychologist with a specialization in dogs.
In his new book Dog is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You, Wynne argues the reason dogs have stood the test of time is not because of their intelligence, but their capacity to love other species.
“The deepest level of biology and all the levels above, we keep finding how the science says yes, your dog really does love you and this is how,” said Wynne.
Wynne says he was trying to understand why dogs were so special, but the answer came from Xephos, his eight-year-old rescue mutt, and the love she would constantly shower.
“She was explaining it to me,” said Wynne. “So I start to think, well maybe what I am experiencing at home, maybe I should take that seriously as a scientific concept.”
Wynne found research to back up his claims. All dogs are descendants of wolves, and Wynne says part of the answer lies in their evolution.
“We have actually been able to identify three genes that mutated in their journey from wolf to dog that are responsible for making dogs more loving than wolves are,” said Wynne.
However, it comes with criteria. Wynne says as long as dogs are exposed to the different species within the first three months of their life, they will love that species.
It doesn’t only have to be human as well. Wynne has found examples where dogs have formed bonds with goats, penguins and more, and says time and time again, throughout his research, he is proven that dogs are built to love.
“That is why we want to care for them, because we understand they care about us,” said Wynne.