A recent article by Sarah Mervosh in the New York Times posed an interesting question. Are dogs with floppy ears more approachable? Are they nicer? Do pointy ears make a dog look more powerful, if not downright aggressive?
If you’ve flown lately, you might have encountered working dogs at area airports. In fact, hundreds of canines report for duty across the country, trained to sniff out bombs and other explosives for the Transportation Security Administration. The agency said it favors floppy-eared dogs over pointy-eared dogs, especially in the jobs that require interacting with traveling passengers, because floppy-eared dogs appear friendlier and less aggressive.
About 70 percent of dogs in the T.S.A.’s canine program have floppy ears, including Labrador retrievers, German shorthaired pointers and Vizslas. Among dogs that screen and interact directly with passengers, nearly all are floppy-eared because those dogs are generally seen as “friendly” and “good with all ages of people,” Chris Shelton, who manages the agency’s Canine Training Center, told The Times.
The T.S.A. also uses some pointy-eared dogs, like Belgian Malinois and German shepherds. Although the agency said it was confident those dogs could do the job, too, some dog lovers did not take kindly to the T.S.A.’s stance.
You can read the article here.
Just like judging a book by its cover is never a good idea, the same holds true with a dog’s appearance. But is the T.S.A. right about floppy ears? Sort of.
There is a scientific explanation for why humans associate floppy ears with friendly animal behavior. Animals that were domesticated by humans tend to have certain characteristics in common: curvier tails and more juvenile facial features than their wild ancestors — and floppier ears, said Lee Dugatkin, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Louisville.
“The floppy ears, the curly tails and so on, all of those somehow came along for the ride when you choose only based on behavior,” Dugatkin told The Times.
So, in an evolutionary sense, the T.S.A. is correct:
“People inherently think of these droopy ears as a more juvenilized, friendly kind of trait,” Dr. Dugatkin said. But in practice, you can’t assess a dog’s personality simply based on its breed or ear type.
“Every dog is different,” Christa Chadwick, vice president of shelter services for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told the newspaper. “We don’t make assumptions around breed tendencies. We really get to know the individual.”
Maybe we should all remember that it’s not the shape of the ears, but rather, it’s what’s between the ears that is more important.
MHS Pets of the Week: Levi is one handsome beau. This tan and black boy is still quite young. At only 10 months old, he likes to play. We are unsure if he can jump a fence, but it is absolutely a possibility.
Because of his size and energy level, kids will need to come in to meet him. He might not do well with small dogs; similar sized dogs and an equal energy level would probably be fine.
He needs some work on his manners and walking on a leash.
Oliver, 8 months, is ready to learn to be the best companion ever! He does not like to be alone and would benefit from a more mature dog who can show him the ropes.
He is working on his confidence and he would love a new owner that can be patient as he learns the world is not so scary.
Cleo is a 5-year-old male who arrived as a stray. He seems pretty laid back and enjoys human affection.
If you like someone who plays a little hard to get – Sox could be your purr-fect mate. This big orange boy is very vocal, almost demanding that he gets the opportunity to leave his kennel to explore. He is ready to be loved on; he just needs an owner ready to be his one and only lover boy.
Come visit these great guys and gals today from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. You can always visit our website, midlandshumanesociety.org.