In detail

"Oh, how cute!": Cuddly hormone oxytocin through a dog's eye


When four-legged friends put their dog eyes on, it is difficult for people to refuse them something. According to studies, this could be due to the fact that eye contact between the dog and owner causes the release of oxytocin, the so-called cuddly hormone. Who can resist this lovely dog ​​look? - Shutterstock / Anna Hoychuk

Oxytocin is increasingly produced in both humans and dogs when the dog's eyes are particularly cute and intense. What does this mean and why is the hormone also called cuddly hormone?

What is oxytocin hormone?

The name Oxytocin comes from the Greek and is made up of the terms "ōkys" ("fast") and "tokos" ("birth"). So it can be translated as "easy, quick birth". Among other things, oxytocin ensures that contractions are triggered so that the birth can take place. It also makes breastfeeding easier by stimulating milk ejection. In addition, the hormone is said to promote the bond between mother and child and between lovers and to strengthen trust.

This was checked, for example, in a comparative study between the relationship behavior of monogamous living prairie mice and polygamous living mountain vole. The result suggests that certain oxytocin receptors in the brain influence social attachment behavior and lead to monogamous relationship behavior. For this reason, oxytocin is often simply called cuddle hormone or loyalty and attachment hormone. It is not quite that simple, but it seems that the substance does indeed promote positive feelings such as love, trust and calmness towards other living beings.

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How dog look and cuddly hormone are related

For example, oxytocin is released when a mother looks at her child. A Japanese study suggests that the dog's view between the animal and the owner also ensures that the substance is released - both in dogs and humans. Dogs were left alone in a room with their owners for the experiment for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, they were filmed to check how often and for how long the pet gave the dog a look at its human. Before and after, the oxytocin values ​​were measured using urine samples in humans and animals. Dogs and owners who had looked at each other particularly often and for a long time showed an increased level of oxytocin.

However, this increased oxytocin level was not seen in wolves raised by humans. It actually seems to depend on the dog's view and the friendship between humans and dogs. The Japanese scientists later wanted to find out what happens if they spray a small dose of oxytocin under the dogs' noses before they meet their humans. The only differences were in bitches - they looked at their favorite people more often and for longer than before. This, in turn, increased human oxytocin levels. This interaction, which causes both the cuddle hormone level in the owner and in the dog to rise, presumably ensures a particularly strong connection.