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I have heard that dogs are often less friendly and generally less trusting of men with beards. Today as I walked past a dog and its owner on the way to my apartment, the dog growled at me; this made me wonder: Is there any scientific evidence to support beards as a contributing factor to canine distrust? Are there any experiments whose results indicate that by shaving, I could more easily navigate dog-filled corridors without eliciting growls or barking?

Some examples of this claim I found:

  • Dogster Question

    Not unusual - for those breeds, or a puppy to be nervous. Being more so around men (naturally smell more dominant), taller men, men with beards, hats, sunglasses, people of another race, etc. also normal.

  • Anecdote from MMO forum

    Whenever he sees a man with a beard, he just goes nuts and barks untill he's gone. If the same man walked past him 10 minutes after with no beard, he would do nothing.

  • Anecdote from Redditor

  • I put the dogster item first as it is the only example that suggests this is common. (The other two only say they suspect their dog has a problem with beards, and other people have replied with other random issues their dogs allegedly have.) – Oddthinking Mar 30 '16 at 1:40
  • Well, if all you've got are various anecdotes... I have a beard, and am one of those people that dogs (and most other 4-legged critters) automatically like. – jamesqf Mar 30 '16 at 5:02
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    Presumably you've walked past any number of dogs over the course of your bearded existence without a problem. If that is the case the issue is with one particular animal. I think both the Dogster and Redditor anecdotes listed point to the answer... the animal saw you or some characteristic (maybe your beard, maybe not) about you as being unusual and therefore worth reacting to. – Doug B Mar 30 '16 at 13:46
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Dogs have some kind of facial recognition according to studies, for example

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10071-013-0713-0

Abstract

Faces play an important role in communication and identity recognition in social animals. Domestic dogs often respond to human facial cues, but their face processing is weakly understood. In this study, facial inversion effect (deficits in face processing when the image is turned upside down) and responses to personal familiarity were tested using eye movement tracking.

Another link seems to have pdf file with entire text https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259201806_How_dogs_scan_familiar_and_inverted_faces_An_eye_movement_study

Nonetheless, faces were generally more attractive for pet dogs than for kennel dogs, which may be due to different emotional salience. Overall, in a free-viewing task, dogs seem to target their fixations at naturally salient and familiar items (conspecifics, upright eyes, familiar faces), which supports our previous proposal that dogs’ gazing preferences reflect their natural interests (Somppi et al. 2012). As an exception to these results, the accumulation of fixations at inverted human faces was probably not a sign of attraction but stemmed from the requirements for more detailed visual processing because they were more demanding to encode compared with other stimuli.

In conclusion, the results underline the importance of the eyes for face perception in dogs and support the fact that face scanning of dogs is guided not only by the physical properties of images, but also by semantic factors. Dogs are likely to recognize conspecific and human faces in photographs, and their face perception expertise may extend beyond their own species. Living environment affected gazing behavior at the general level, but not species preference or responses to inversion and familiarity, suggesting that the basic mechanisms of face processing in dogs could be hardwired or might develop under limited exposure.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0023969013000301

The present set of experiments investigated the ability of domestic dogs to discriminate between two familiar humans. One purpose of this work was to examine basic perceptual questions. Can dogs discriminate (familiar) humans on the basis of the visual features of their faces alone (Stages 2 and 3) or do they require more visual (rest of the body) or other sensory information, like olfaction (pre-training and Stage 1)?

This study seemed to hide the part of the face that would show a beard, or that factor was not controlled for.

But for dogs generally dislike only beards is very dubious. Seems that there is no study about this.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes. - From Review – rjzii Apr 6 '16 at 17:36
  • Thank you for corrections. I keep them in mind for another time. – Markko Apr 9 '16 at 14:58

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