Puppies win over hearts in a moment. But they have a very limited time to do that, according to a new Arizona State University study which found that “dog attractiveness to humans” peaks when the little critters are only 8 weeks old.
“There is indeed an optimal age of maximum cuteness,” said Clive Wynne, a professor of psychology and director of the elaborate research.
He concluded that the cute factor plays a role in canine survival. It peaks just when mother dogs’ interest in their puppies is waning, while human interest grows more intense.
“This could be a signal coming through to us of how dogs have evolved to rely on human care. This 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. Being able to connect with us, to find an emotional hook with us is what actually makes their lives possible,” Mr. Wynne said.
The research asked 51 study participants to rate the level of cuteness of puppies at assorted ages. Results showed that the pups’ attractiveness was lowest at birth and increased to a maximum before 10 weeks of age. The cuteness then declined and leveled off.
“Around 7 or 8 weeks of age, just as their mother is getting sick of them and is going to kick them out of the den and they’re going to have to make their own way in life, at that age, that is exactly when they are most attractive to human beings,” Mr. Wynne said.
“I think that the intelligence of dogs is not the fundamental issue,” he said. “It’s this tremendous capacity to form intimate, strong, affectionate bonds. And that starts at maybe 8 weeks of life, when they’re so compelling to us.”
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