(A FACS system adapted for the domestic dog)

The Dog Facial Action Coding System (DogFACS) is a scientific observational tool for identifying and coding facial movements in dogs. The system is based on the facial anatomy of dogs and has been adapted from the original FACS system used for humans created by Ekman and Friesen (1978). The DogsFACS manual details how to use the system and code the facial movements of Dogs objectively. The manual and certification is freely available (see below). 

More info regarding the development of this FACS system can be found here:

Waller, B. M., Peirce, K., Caeiro, C. C., Scheider, L., Burrows, A. M., McCune, S., & Kaminski, J. (2013). Paedomorphic facial expressions give dogs a selective advantage. PLoS one, 8(12), e82686.


What DogFACS is:

DogFACS is not an ethogram of facial expressions, and does not make any inference about any underlying emotion or context causing the movement. Instead this is an objective coding scheme with no assumption about what represents a facial expression in this species. It will not explicitally teach you cat facial expressions. 

What DogFACS isn't:

Accessing the manual

Accessing the Test

To access the DogFACS manual, please fill out the form below. Further details, including a link to the manual, will be sent to the email which you provide. 

If you do not receive the manual within 24 hours (this is usually instant) please contact us. 

To become a certified DogFACS coder, we encourage you to take the associated test. The DogFACS test involves trainees to accurately code the facial movements in a series of video clips.

The materials for the test, and further instructions, can be found with the manual, and can also be accessed via the form below. 

The people behind it

DogFACS was developed thanks to the joint effort of:

  • Bridget M. Waller, Department of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University. 
  • Juliane Kaminski, Centre for Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology, University of Portsmouth
  • Anne M. Burrows, Department of Physical Therapy, Duquesne University
  • Cátia Caeiro, School of Psychology, University of Lincoln, UK
  • Kate Peirce, Centre for Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology, University of Portsmouth 


The development of DogFACS was supported by a WALTHAM® Foundation Research Grant to Bridget Waller, Juliane Kaminski and Anne Burrows.

We would like to thank:

  • The Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology (and all participating dog owners) for allowing us to use their dogs footage, and Katrin Schumann who helped collect footage.
  • The shelters for access to film their dogs: Portsmouth City Dog Kennels, Hilsea, UK; RSPCA Southridge Animal Centre, London, UK; Second Chance Animal Rescue, Southampton, UK; The Dog’s Trust, West London, UK; The Welfare of Stray Dogs Animal Shelter, Mumbai, India; Wood Green, The Animal’s Charity, Godmanchester, UK.
  • Grace Cannell, Jenny Hynds and Linda Scheider for helpful comments on the manual.
  • Inês Martins for drawing anatomical images.
  • Alex Komechak, Alissa Zalneraitis, David Lum, Leanne Lanteigne, Michael Woon, Riley Burnham, Shaun Horne, Stuart Blacklock and Yashvin Awootar for permission to use their videos from
  • The collaborators who helped with the reliability assessment of DogFACS, Jamie Whitehouse and Linda Scheid