Social evolution. Oxytocin-gaze positive loop and the coevolution of human-dog bonds

Science. 2015 Apr 17;348(6232):333-6. doi: 10.1126/science.1261022. Epub 2015 Apr 16.


Human-like modes of communication, including mutual gaze, in dogs may have been acquired during domestication with humans. We show that gazing behavior from dogs, but not wolves, increased urinary oxytocin concentrations in owners, which consequently facilitated owners' affiliation and increased oxytocin concentration in dogs. Further, nasally administered oxytocin increased gazing behavior in dogs, which in turn increased urinary oxytocin concentrations in owners. These findings support the existence of an interspecies oxytocin-mediated positive loop facilitated and modulated by gazing, which may have supported the coevolution of human-dog bonding by engaging common modes of communicating social attachment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic / psychology*
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Communication*
  • Dogs / psychology*
  • Female
  • Fixation, Ocular*
  • Human-Animal Bond*
  • Humans
  • Oxytocin / physiology*
  • Wolves / psychology*


  • Oxytocin