|Why do dogs whimper instead of crying tears?
That's an interesting question. I'm going to turn
it up side down, though. Why do humans cry? We
seem to be the odd species here. I don't know of
another species that cries tears because of
emotions. Scientists always like to figure out
why one species is different.
actually have an answer, but science is really
about asking interesting questions, and then
seeing if you can find an answer. Let's see what
I do know. I know that dogs whimper because as
babies, they can get there mother's help by
whimpering. Dogs are the descendents of wolves,
but humans have artificially selected them for
many thousand of years to keep most of their puppy
behavior all of their lives. Dogs don't use their
eyes as much as humans do, but their ears are
better than ours. Also, puppies are often out of
their mother's sight. So a sound cue like a whine
makes sense. Puppies are also born with closed
eyes, so tears would not be very
But is there something unique
about humans that make tears useful for us? I
know that human voice boxes are much lower than
those of other animals. That lets us talk. (It
also makes us much more likely to choke to death.)
That might make the vocal part of our crying
different. Why tears, though?
have found that the tears we cry because of
emotions are different from the tears that we
constantly make to protect our eyes. Some people
think that this lets us get rid of some of the
chemicals that our bodies make when we are under
stress. There's an interesting article about this
it's true, that would definitely be a benefit to
So why would we have
evolved this useful thing (tears that make us feel
better), when no other species has? I don't know,
but maybe emotions have a bigger influence on our
behavior. Dogs respond to things in the present,
like wanting to go out or getting their tail
caught in a door. We can think about how we'll
feel in the future and how we felt in the past.
We can get emotional about things that aren't even
real, like a sad book or movie. So maybe we need
tears more than a dog does.
What do you
think? Your question really got me thinking, thanks.
Just about every behavior an animal has probably
gives the animal some benefit, or the behavior
would not have evolved. The style of vocalizations
that people have while crying is probably what
most effectively communicates to other people that
the person crying is in some kind of distress. The
same is probably true for dogs--for some unknown
reason, whimpering is the best way to say in dog
language that a dog is in distress or pain. Since
that's the kind of vocalization that works best
for dogs as a species, that's the kind that was
selected by natural selection, and gradually it
became the kind of vocalization that the dog
species evolved to use.
Humans benefit from
shedding tears while crying because tears contain
higher than normal levels of certain stress
hormones that our bodies produce while were under
stress. (Actually, the sweat that we produce while
under stress contains more of those hormones,
too.) Many scientists think that one reason why we
feel better after we cry is because we have gotten
rid of some of the extra stress hormones in our
tears. Dogs' bodies work differently on many
levels, and this is probably one of them. Chances
are, since dogs don't shed tears while crying,
that they have other ways of getting rid of those
extra stress hormones. Dogs don't sweat either,
but they do pant when they're nervous, afraid, or
stressed. I suspect that the saliva they produce
during times of stress contains more of those
stress hormones than their regular saliva does. I
don't know if anyone is researching that topic,
but that's my hypothesis.
Humans whimper, too.
I suppose the better
question is why dogs don't shed tears. I guess one
possible reason is that when humans simply
whimper, they usually don't cry; crying is caused
by something else. I don't know. Interesting question.
Tears are an important protection for the eye.
They can flush out dirt and keep the eye wet to
help with vision. While most mammals are
physically capable of producing tears, many
scientists claim that humans are the only animals
that cry emotional tears. But if you don't
consider tears essential to crying, then many
animals do cry.Studies have found that young
mammals and birds vocalize when they are separated
from their mothers. Baby animals can be quite
expressive in their distress at being apart from
their primary caretakers. Infants of many
mammalian species, including rats, cry. All young
mammals make cries when separated from their
mother. The cry of a bear cub separated from its
mother sounds very much like a human baby's
cry.There is no scientific evidence that shows
that dogs shed emotional tears. A dogs way of
crying is more known as whimpering or whining.
Since the dog is a social animal, it used (and
still uses in the wild) the whimpering sound for
communicating distress of some sort. It may be
being separated from its mother or pack or if its
a young individual it can even be a sign of being
frightened or threatened. People who own dogs as
pets will hear the whimpering sound even more
often. Their pet dog might use whimpering to
signal his owner that it needs something:
attention, reassuring, food, going for a walk, or
a pat on the head. Without proper training, it may
even be a ploy to gain the upper paw,for the
annoying tones of whining often cause the owner to
give in to the dogs demands.
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