Puppies Only Pick Up Yawns When They’re Old Enough To Understand Empathy

Dogs catch contagious yawns just like people, baboons and chimps, which can be used as a measure of empathy. But this is a behavior they learn after they emerge from youngest puppyhood, a new study says. Like people, young dogs show a developmental trend in their likelihood of catching yawns. This is the first time anyone has studied young-organism yawning in a species other than people.

Anyone who owns a dog knows you can catch a yawn from your pet, and vice versa. My dog, a 5-year-old border collie rescue, has this piercing yawn-peak squeal and head shiver that literally makes it impossible not to catch it. And I have seen her watching me, yawning after I do.


By Rebecca Boyle