New study Finds Age that Dogs are Most Attractive to Humans

In a fun study, scientists have found the point when puppies appear the cutest to us humans. Apart from the cuteness factor, these results could shed light on how man’s best friend has evolved to depend on human care.

The study was published in the journal Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of the Interactions of People and Animals. For this study researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Florida found that puppies’ cuteness peaks at around eight weeks, approximately the time at which their mothers stop weaning them, allowing them to fend for themselves.

The scientists were interested in seeing whether there were any connections between the age at which weaning stops and thus when the puppies are most vulnerable and their attractiveness to humans.

To do this they came up with a study where they showed 51 images of puppies at different ages—ranging from between a few weeks old and young adulthood. They showed 51 participants, asking them to rank the level of attractiveness of the dogs in each photo. The breeds used were Jack Russell terriers, cane corsos and white shepherds.

The team realized that the participants rated the least attractive puppies at birth, and the scores steadily rose until the peak of eight weeks. After eight weeks, the attractiveness scores began to dip again and level off.

What’s more, there was a slight difference between the breeds, with the cane corsos appearing most attractive at 6.3 weeks of age on average, while the Jack Russells and the white shepherds appeared the cutest at 7.7 weeks 8.3 weeks respectively.

Professor Clive Wynne from Arizona State University said in a statement that it came out exactly as he hoped it would. There is indeed an optimal age of maximum cuteness, and that age does line up pretty closely with the age at which mothers wean their pups.

The results may show that the age of this “peak cuteness” is a sign of the age-old relationship between humans and dogs, as Wynne reported, although this connection has not yet been tested.

Wynne added that this could be a signal coming through to us of how dogs have evolved to rely on human care. It could be dogs showing us how the bond between human and dog is not just something that we find immensely satisfying in our lives. But for them, it’s the absolute bedrock of their existence. That being able to connect with us, to find an emotional hook with us is what actually makes their lives possible.

This means that a dog’s ability to form intimate, strong and affectionate bonds with humans is assisted by their peak cuteness at the age when they stop being weaned. It is crucial to the survival of their species.

This is not the first time that science has found evidence of the extraordinary relationship between dogs and humans. For instance, a 2017 study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, discovered that dogs make more facial expressions when humans are watching.



Image Credit: MAXXSIPHOTO / Shutterstock


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