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Can dogs love?

Updated on June 27, 2010

Everybody would want to be loved unconditionally, to be protected, to be appreciated and to be showered with lavish attention and devotion. However, as what is always the case, getting all these ideal situations from a partner is rather hard if not outright impossible unless…you consider a furry four legged creature to be your partner and companion. Anyone who has cared for a dog would swear to the love and devotion these animals give to humans. Because of the long association with dogs, humans tend to give these animals human-like characteristics. We are a race of dog lovers. We sure do love our dogs but do our dogs return the favor? Are dogs capable of loving humans?

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Can dogs really love?

A dog owner being constantly exposed to the adoring eyes and affectionate gestures of the pet would swear that dogs can love. Dogs cannot vocalize what they feel for humans but the body language would perfectly show the dog’s affection for its human family. Dogs have risked their lives to save their master. Hachiko, an Akita dog has religiously waited in the train station for the dead master for ten years. If these are not signs of the dog’s love for its master what then are these acts?

The skeptic’s view

Scientists would naturally want more proof and skeptics would say that it is wishful thinking on the part of the dog owner. For all the love bestowed on the pet, the owner would naturally want to think that the affection is reciprocated. However, because the dog’s capability to love was not backed up by scientific evidence other explanations were given. The affection and loyalty shown by the dog is an act of self interest. Remember, dogs may have existed and survived in the wild but domesticated dogs are entirely dependent on their owners. By showing signs of affection for the master, the dog is assured of a lifetime supply of dog food, shelter and care. Once the food and the cuddling are discontinued, the loving gestures of the dog will cease as well. A dog may be very affectionate and loyal to the master but it also has the tendency of developing the same affection and loyalty to a new owner. The love will now be transferred to the one that is currently filling the doggie bowls with food.

The emotions of dogs

To be able to love, a dog has to have emotions. Do dogs have emotions? And if they do, how do our canine friends express their emotions. Our canine friends have emotions but the emotions they feel are not as complex as what we humans have. The range and depth of a dog’s emotion has always been a topic of debate among canine behaviorists and scientists. Dog owners though would say that if the dog can be happy, sad, frustrated and excited, the four legged friend can also love.

Anthropomorphism

Dogs have been the loyal companions of man for thousands of years. As such humans have this tendency to attribute human characteristics to their pets. Dog owners therefore believe that they are loved by their pets.

Husky Dog Talking - " I love you"

Dog, I love you

Dog Love

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