Dogs really ARE man's best friend as study finds they recognise voices of those they love

DOGS can recognise their beloved owners by just hearing their voice, researchers have found.

Dogs can recognise their owner by their voice alone study shows

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The study is the first of its kind to determine that canines can differentiate between their owner’s voice, and the sounds of other people. Previous research had already shown dogs are capable of recognising their owners, but could not demonstrate exactly how they did so.

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It was unclear whether they used vision or smell to tell their owners apart from everyone else, rather than judging based on their voice.

But researchers from Hungary’s Eotvos Lorand University have concluded the latter is, in fact, the case for man’s best friend.Andics Attila, a researcher for the study, commented: “This is the first demonstration that dogs can tell apart their owner's voice from many others.”

Researchers welcomed 28 canines and their owners into their laboratory, inviting the participants to play a game of hide and seek.

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dog owner research

Previous research had already shown dogs are capable of recognising their owners (Image: Eotvos Lorand University)

dog research

In a choice of two hiding places, one concealed the dog’s owner (Image: Eotvos Lorand University)

In a choice of two hiding places, one concealed the dog’s owner, and in the other was a stranger.

Both the owner and the stranger would then use a neutral tone to read aloud recipes.

The dog would then choose which one to head for from a distance.

The process would then be repeated numerous times.

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The dogs could detect their owner in 82 percent of cases (Image: Getty)

The dogs were required to differentiate between their owners’ voices and those of 14 strangers, with varying levels of similarity to how their owners sound.

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In the last two rounds, the researchers played the owner’s voice from the space where the stranger was hiding, and the stranger’s from the owner’s spot, in order to prevent smells interfering with the results.

Including when the voices were swapped, the dogs could detect their owner in 82 percent of cases, the results showed.

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The dogs were required to differentiate between their owners’ voices and those of 14 strangers (Image: Getty)


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The researchers then looked into what parts of the owners’ voices gave the game away to the dogs.

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They found if there was a bigger difference in pitch between the owner’s and the stranger’s voices, the dogs could more easily recognise their owner.

The results suggested, however, that other sound properties like timbre had no effect.


Lead researcher Anna Gabor said: “People mostly make use of three properties: pitch (higher or lower), noisiness (cleaner or harsher), and timbre (brighter or darker) to differentiate others.

“Dogs may make use of the same voice properties or different ones.

“If two voices differ in a property that matters for dogs, decisions should be easier.”

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