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Why are dogs cute?

The science of cuteness...

Today we are talking about a very interesting subject – the science of cute. Yes, CUTE. Cute is actually my number one over-used word, I seem to find cute everywhere and in everything. SOOOO cute, isn’t it?!

Now for any pet-pawrent cute is part of life, as there is no way we don’t think cute when we look at our fur-kids. No matter what they do, even the worst mess-up, it still is cute. Not sure how this works, but one look from these big sweet eyes and one melts away, drowend by cuteness. Now let’s get into this a little deeper…



Why we think of dogs as CUTE?

To answer this question, “Why are dogs so cute?” we have to start by asking What is CUTE?

Of course, we can all name cuteness when we see it (our furry kids being the cutest things in the universe – no question asked!). But there’s actually a recognized list of characteristics that determine “cute,” all fitting under the German word kinderschema, or ‘baby-like’.

Here are a few clues on what makes a dog cute:

For an example of ‘The cute science’ one has to look no further than the French bulldog. These incredibly cute smushy fur-balls are just A-listers in CUTENESS: pudgy faces; loose skin that bunches into squeezable rolls; big round eyes; rounded ears and that cute little smushed up nose… OH MY DOG

So it’s no wonder Frenchies are becoming more and more one of the most popular dog breeds worldwide.



Why Cuteness matters

Even without a list of cuteness hints, most of us have perfect sense of what’s cute and what’s not. We just look at a sweet, fluffy dog and we go ; OHhhhh, soooo cute…” And then we might look at a hairy spider and think – OH no – this is so not cute. Not even if the spider is furry…! But here is where the science of cute gets really interesting – when we actually start to analyze why certain features tickle our ‘OH SO CUTE’ button. It’s proven that the concept of cuteness is tied to youth and helplessness. Hence that’s why puppies are even cuter than the grown ups.

So here we are – It all goes back to babies. You know, human babies. In other words, anything that reminds us of small, defenseless and innocent babies will trigger these sweet and warm feelings that make us want to take care and ooze out love. It seems that our brain doesn’t automatically know the difference between “human baby” or ‘pet-baby’ – it kind of just detects BABY – SMALL – NEEDS ATTENTION AND WARMTH… It has been proven that when we look at a picture of a puppy or a baby, we will respond with the same warm and loving feelings.

To put it into scientific words – our affinity for cute is an evolved biological response, we have been programmed to aknowledge cute and to protect and care for cute. It’s obvious – If we didn’t get all warm and fuzzy over cute things, we wouldn’t take care of them and protect them and our own human species might not even have survived. So we respond to cute things because it’s in our very nature to nurture, whether it’s a human baby or a little kitten or doggy… (again – not sure about hairy baby spiders)


But hey – why are dogs so damn cute

Okay, sometimes we may think, my dog isn’t so helpless after all. Sometimes we even think that he/she is smarter than us! Or smarter than other people for sure. Which means that even though our pet fits in the kinderschema (baby-like) it doesn’t automatically mean that our dog is weak or helpless. Some studies have recently been published that dogs actually evolved to be cuter – to be man’s best friend. Smart, right?

It kind of makes sense, that dogs would become increasingly cuter as they became more and more dependent on humans to survive. An interesting report by the Huffington Post found that shelter dogs who “actively raised their inner brow and widened their eyes” were adopted faster. Raised a brow, widened eyes, looked helpless…I mean, really? This is what humans do to be – CUTE!?

All these studies are kind of new, so nobody can prove for sure that we humans will care for the cutest first, but it is part of our instincts and cute just has a way to draw us in, no matter if we are men or women.



And yes – now you can argue – as cuteness is in the eye of the beholder…

There are plenty of dog pawrents who love dogs that aren’t cute in most eyes. There are even dogs that are voted the MOST UGLY, and yet – their pawrent thinks they are the cutest thing ever and will smoother them with LOVE. Maybe being so ugly makes these poor fur-kids even more innocent and vulnerable and again awakens our instinctive reflex to protect…?

And of course some people have different cuteness ideas than others; hence that’s why some of us favor squashed bully breeds while others will go for long-legged goofy Weimis… Which brings us back to our very first question – WHAT IS CUTE?

And maybe every cute is cute, depending the eye of the beholder…


What is the cutest thing about your doggy and why do you think he/she is cute? We love to hear from you.

"a dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself"
Josh Billings
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