We've long suspected that dogs have a nose for sensing our feelings.

Now scientists have gathered evidence that our four-legged friends really do have the ability to recognise human emotions.

A study has shown for the first time that the animals can pick up moods both in other dogs and their owners.

It makes man's best friend the only creature - apart from us - that can tune in to another species.


Lincoln University experts sat 17 pet dogs in front of a screen and flashed up two images of the face of another dog - one playful and one angry.

When the animals were played a tape of a dog barking in a cheerful manner, the dogs spent longer looking at the happy faces. When they heard growls, they focused on the angry faces.

However, if the barking was neither light-hearted nor threatening, they spent the same amount of time looking at each picture. This, say scientists, shows they were combining what they could see and hear to evaluate the mood of the dog in the picture. A similar result emerged when dogs were shown pictures of people accompanied by speech recordings.

Writing in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, researchers said the ability is likely instinctive and has been magnified by thousands of years of domestication.

Professor Daniel Mills added: "Our findings are the first to show that dogs truly recognise emotions in humans and other dogs."

- Daily Mail