If your beloved pooch could speak, what question would you ask it? For me, a question that crosses my mind quite often is about the loyalty of dogs. Everyone knows that one of the most notable traits of dogs is their overwhelming loyalty. We call them man’s best friends for a reason. But I often wonder why they’re so loyal to us. Is there a specific reason (or reasons) why dogs are so loyal to humans? Is the myth of their loyalty even true, or is it just one thing people say to make you like dogs (not that they need a lot of PR anyways! Have you seen how adorable they are?)?
So I did a little digging around to find out where the loyalty of dogs came from. It turns out there are a few interesting theories about why they seem to love their pet parents so much. In this article, we’ll provide a few explanations as to why your dog has so much love for you.
Are Dogs Really Loyal?
The fact that dogs are the most loyal pet isn’t news to anyone. In fact, this idea has lingered on for so long. It’ll be strange if anyone ever questioned the premise of the loyalty of dogs.
To answer the question, Yes, dogs are indeed loyal. If you own one yourself, you’ll probably know this. They’re probably the most affectionate house animals anyone could have. And even if you don’t have one, you’ll find several stories of dogs faithfully waiting for their owners for years or recognizing their owners after several years of separation. These stories are totally true, and they are shreds of evidence that dogs are deeply loyal to their human parents.
Are They The Most Loyal Pet?
The loyalty of dogs has never been in doubt? But are they the most loyal pet? Dogs are the most loyal of all house animals because they do everything to show that they care for the comfort of their owners. We can’t say the same for most house animals.
Of course, there’s no sure-fire way to confirm if dogs are more affectionate than other pets. But it’s safe to conclude that no other pets demonstrate their faithfulness and love for their owners than dogs. Their affection for humans is demonstrated in the most recognizable ways.
No other pet would actively defend its humans against an attack. Very few would stay by them when in trouble like a dog would. Your cat may come back to greet you when you return from work. But they won’t do it with as much enthusiasm as your dog would. Sure they have other ways to show they love you, but they don’t do it better than a dog.
So, Why Are Dogs So Loyal?
A few theories attempt to explain where the loyalty of dogs comes from and why it runs so deep. However, experts agree, that their loyalty to man is due to their habit of living in packs and their tendency to view humans as part of their family too.
Here are a few of the most interesting explanations for why dogs are so loyal.
You Give Them Food
The simplest explanation for your dog’s loyalty is that their sustenance depends on you. You give them food, shelter, and everything else they need, so it’s only normal that they’re attached to you somehow.
Dogs are particularly grateful animals, and the reward for providing them with all the essentials they need to survive is their devotion to you. They have evolved that way since their ancient ancestors were taken in by humans thousands of years ago.
There’s one piece of evidence that confirms a connection between dogs and the person who feeds them. Even though they seem to love everyone in the family, they tend to grow more attached to the person who gives them food regularly.
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They Consider You As Family
Like wolves and their other canine relatives, dogs are pack animals, and loyalty is one of the most critical traits that hold a pack together. Since you have adopted them as part of your family, dogs consider you part of a pack.
To survive, animals that form packs watch each other’s backs and protect each other. This natural trait to trust and protect members of their pack is why your dog would put itself in danger just to protect you instead of ditching you for safety. That’s the pack instinct.
We Evolved Together
The domestication of dogs began when men were cavemen. Both species have evolved over time to benefit each other. Their habits were similar in many ways, and both were predators that hunted prey in groups and attacked with aggression.
With time, our human ancestors began to hunt side-by-side with these canines, with both species benefiting from each other. Today, the relationship is slightly different, but that love still lingers. Humans further encouraged this interdependent relationship by creating certain types of breeds with traits that were particularly beneficial to their human owners.
Perhaps, this long, shared history shows why humans and dogs have become so attached. Over the years, we have developed a symbiotic relationship that bonds us together and has helped our dogs develop a deep sense of loyalty.
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Your Dog Considers You a Friend
One of the unique things about dogs is that they have a personality. Their personality traits are more developed than other pets, and one aspect of that unique personality is their ability to develop friendships.
Beyond the natural instinct to be part of a pack that has become hardwired into their DNA due to years of joint evolution, dogs can form bonds with humans who share complementary traits. This is precisely how human friendships work.
This often shows in our interaction with different dog breeds. As you probably know, the depth of affection often varies from one dog breed to another. Some breeds are simply more loyal than others, which sometimes plays into how dogs interact with people. Dog breeds that are more affectionate or enjoy cuddling often form stronger bonds with quiet humans that spend more time at home. Similarly, if your dog is playful and active, they’ll form much deeper bonds with humans that love adventures and outdoor life.
This also suggests that it is possible to strengthen the friendly bonds between humans and dogs in some ways. People who are more patient or spend more time with their dogs usually get rewarded with a much deeper friendship and loyalty than other people. This explains why your dog may develop a sense of loyalty to their walker or sitter even though they are not exactly a member of your family.
Dogs May Be Capable Of Loving
Beyond the genetics and psychology of it all, there is evidence that suggests that the loyalty of dogs may be biological as well. One such study that provides some insights into the biological basis of the bond between dogs and humans was carried out at the Claremont Graduate University in California.
The study measured the oxytocin (love hormones) level in domesticated animals. It was discovered that dogs and other pets release oxytocin in intimate situations. The level of oxytocin is similar to the surge of oxytocin in humans that are romantically attracted to someone.
Similarly, a study carried out in 2015 attempted to map the brain of dogs to see how the different parts of their brain respond to different scents. The study showed that dogs react strongly to their owner’s scent, and the brain wave pattern observed is similar to what is seen in humans in love.
In another similar experience, dogs were made to watch a stranger being rude to their owner. Afterward, they allowed the dogs to interact with the stranger. The result showed that the dogs would actively snub the rude stranger when allowed to interact with them.
There’s no doubt that dogs are among the most loyal pets anyone could have, and there are plenty of possible reasons for that. The most prevailing thought is that dogs evolved to become loyal to us due to our joint evolution and co-dependence. Evidence also suggests that dogs can form friendship bonds and display love to humans. Of course, there’s no specific template to this. Different dogs show varying levels of loyalty based on their breed, personality, or your relationship with them.
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