Not just cute: Why floppy-eared dogs are more in demand

According to Darwin, in many species, ears seemed to flop when they no longer needed to be erect to catch every passing sound.

Published: 07th January 2019 04:09 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th January 2019 04:10 PM   |  A+A-

Image used for representation.


WASHINGTON DC: It turns out that dogs with pointy, upright ears appear more off-putting and scary than their floppy-eared counterparts. Compared between a German Shepherd and a golden retriever, the latter always seems more friendly and approachable.

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The Transportation Security Administration too seems to have taken notice of this trend and will be putting more bomb-sniffing floppy-eared pooches at work, as opposed to the fiercer-looking pointy-eared dogs usually seen in airports across the USA.

Speaking to Washington Examiner, TSA Administrator David Pekoske said, "We find the passenger acceptance of floppy ear dogs is just better. It presents just a little bit less of a concern. Doesn't scare children."

According to the Darwinian theory of evolution, all domesticated quadrupeds are descendants from a single species having erect ears.

According to Darwin, in many species, ears seemed to flop when they no longer needed to be erect to catch every passing sound. He called the phenomenon domestication syndrome.

A more recent study by Jamie Fratkin and Suzanne Baker at James Madison University in Texas in 2013 found volunteers being presented with images of a dog, where in one photo it had yellow coat and black in the other, while the other photos showed the same pooch but with floppy ears in one and pointed ears in the other.

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Participants found the dogs with a yellow coat or floppy ears to be more agreeable and emotionally stable than the dogs with a black coat or prick ears.

As for what makes people assume floppy dogs as being friendlier, Elinor K. Karlsson, assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT feels that most people base their opinions on past experiences they have had with different dogs.

Karlsson further adds that since most working police and military dogs have erect ears, people associate the ears with the working dogs which are in protector, not friendly, roles.

The TSA uses seven types of dogs in airports. Five of the breeds are with droopy ears and include Labrador retrievers, German short-haired pointers, wire-haired pointers, vizslas and golden retrievers, while two breeds have pointy ears -- the German shepherds and Belgian Malinois. 

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