A recent study suggests that humans tend to feel more empathy for dogs than they do other humans in general. However, the study also found that humans tend to be equally empathetic towards dogs as towards other children. The research was presented at the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association. Researchers suggest that the tendency to see dogs as characterized by dependence and vulnerability cause them to elicit empathy from us, in a way similar to how the helplessness and vulnerability of children tends to elicit empathy.
This phenomenon is not observed in the relation of humans with all animal species, however, the research notes. The phenomenon is highly complicated and depends on numerous factors. Certain important factors include the age of the animal and also the species. Age, they noted, was the most important component, offering potential insight into why this phenomenon is observed in our relation to children as well as dogs.
The researchers found in general that human crime victims elicited empathy from most humans than children and puppies, although this phenomenon also extended to full-grown dogs. Part of the reason we tend to have more empathy for dogs regardless of their age but less so for adult humans seems to be because we tend to view dogs as vulnerable and empathy.