Dogs have a better reception when they hear a female voice. Especially, when a woman speaks to them with a childish language, as if it were a child. This caught the attention of science and a group of scientists conducted a study that was published in Communications Biology.
Dogs react better to female voices.
In that study, they perceived that dogs are sensitized when they are spoken to specifically, and even more so if the one speaking to them is female. This research was conducted at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology and Eötvös Lorand University in Hungary. The researchers used brain scans that measure canine responses to human language.
They ran the tests on 19 trained dogs of different breeds. The dogs had to stand still inside a functional resonance imaging (fMRI) machine. While they stood there, they listened to messages addressed to them, to infants and to adults, in both male and female voices. The canines reacted best to the exaggerated voices typically used to talk to infants. That reaction was most noticeable when the voice was female.
The way babies are spoken to concentrates the attention of canines more.
Infant speech is particularly characteristic, with an exaggeration in vowels, a higher-pitched and more musical voice. It is beneficial to the development of infants. Although dogs do not hear female voices and high-pitched tones during gestation, it surprised scientists that during the test they demonstrated greater sensitivity to infant language, and to female voices.
Anna Gábor, a member of the Hungarian university who participated in this study, says that the reaction of dogs to female voices is because it is women who speak to them most often in baby talk. However, researchers think of two options for the explanation of this human trait of dogs.
It may be an ancient sensitivity among mammals to high-pitched sounds with greater frequency variability. Or it may also be ancestral communication shared by humans when they domesticated wolves. This process is reinforced when dogs are in the same environment as humans. This makes them pay more attention to those who speak to them.
The greater responsiveness to exaggerated and higher-pitched tones may be why dogs outperform other animals in processing human speech.
However, the researchers refer that more studies like this one are needed and further study is needed to reach a definitive conclusion. The number of dogs involved in the experience is minimal, so more research is needed.