Study: Why dogs tilt their heads. Pups tilt their faces to one side in order to hear and process their owners’ requests better, according to a study. 

  • Scientists conducted a recall test on dogs and their owners to determine if they were able to recall toys.
  • Dogs who remembered the names of more toys tilted more often their heads.
  • Experts say that the action may help them process and hear requests 

It’s a cute behavior that will charm dog lovers. But, why do dogs tilt their heads to the side?

Researchers from the Eotvos Lond University in Budapest attempted to answer this question. They found that tilting your head may help dogs hear and process more information.

The team conducted a series experiments in which dog owners taught their pets the names of new toys.

The dogs would tilt their heads when their owners requested a toy. This tilt seemed to be consistent over time.

The researchers stated that dogs often tilt their heads, and they don’t have a complete understanding of why.

“However this study is the first step towards proving that this behavior may be related to the presence and salient audio stimuli for the dogs.

Researchers from the Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest suggest that tilting the head may help dogs to hear and process information more easily

Researchers from the Eotvos-Lorand University in Budapest have suggested that dogs may be able to hear and process more information by tilting their heads.

Which breeds of dog is the smartest? 

WebMD says that these are the most intelligent dog breeds.

  1. Border Collie
  2. Poodle
  3. German Shepherd
  4. Golden Retriever
  5. Doberman Pinscher
  6. Shetland Sheepdog
  7. Labrador Retriever
  8. Papillon
  9. Rottweiler
  10. Australian Cattle Dog 

Many animals, including humans use asymmetrical behaviors regularly.

You might, for example, squint with your one eye to see an image or turn your head in a certain direction to hear better when you hear a noise.

Asymmetrical behavior in dogs includes tail wagging, nose use while sniffing, and even paw preference.

Dr Andrea Sommese, lead author, stated that tilting the head in dogs is yet another asymmetrical movement, but that it had never been studied.

“We examined the frequency and direction this behavior took in response to a particular human vocalization: When the owner asks the dog for a toy, the dog will bring it by saying its name.

“We did it because it happened so often when the dogs were listening to their owners.”

The researchers used videos from a previous study that looked at dog toy memory to understand this behavior.

In the study toys were placed in one area and experimenter and owner in the other. The owner then asked the dog to fetch the toy by naming it.

Of the 40 dogs tested, 33 were found to be typical dogs that could not learn the name of even two toys, while seven, including Whisky (pictured) were classed as Gifted Word Learners, who could remember multiple names easily

33 of the 40 dogs were considered to be typical dogs, unable to learn the names of toys. Seven, including Whisky (pictured), were classified as Gifted Word Learners. They were able to remember multiple names with ease.

33 of the 40 dogs tested were considered to be typical dogs who couldn’t name any toys. Seven dogs were classified as Gifted Word Learners and could recall multiple names with ease.

The Gifted Dogs were also observed to tilt their heads at the request of their owners for toys, which is something that the average dog rarely does.

The team decided to do two more experiments to observe head tilts.

The subsequent experiments that lasted over 24 months confirmed that dogs seem inclined to tilt their heads more often than cats.

Shany Dror, coauthor, stated that it appears that success in retrieving a named item is related to head tilts upon hearing its name.

“That is why we suggest an association of head-tilting with processing relevant and meaningful stimuli.”


An analysis of the DNA of the oldest known dog remains in the world revealed that dogs were domesticated by humans in Eurasia around 20,000 to 40,000.

MailOnline was informed by Dr Krishna Veeramah (a Stony Brook University assistant professor in evolution) that dog domestication would have involved a complex process, with many generations where signature traits developed slowly.

“The current hypothesis is that domestication of dogs occurred passively. There are wolves living in hunter-gatherer camps, eating the refuse left behind by humans.

‘Those wolves who were more calm and less aggressive would have been more effective at this. Although the humans did not initially benefit from this process, they would eventually have some sort of symbiotic relationship. [mutually beneficial]Eventually, our relationship with these animals evolved into the dogs we know today.