No matter how old our dogs get, we love them just as much as we did back when they were puppies. But recent research suggests that there's just one age where puppies look especially cute to people — and the possible reason why is actually pretty adorable.
The May 2018 study published in Anthrozoös: A Multidisciplinary Journal of the Interactions of People and Animals found that a dog's attractiveness to humans peaks at eight weeks. If you're a big Fido fan, you may already know that this is the same time when a dog mama leaves the little pupper to fend for himself or herself.
"This could be a signal coming through to us of how dogs have evolved to rely on human care," said lead researcher Clive Wynne, PhD, in a press release. "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. That being able to connect with us, to find an emotional hook with us is what actually makes their lives possible."
The researchers completed the study by recuiting 51 people to judge a series of photos of puppies at different ages, beginning at the first few weeks of their lives and ending at young adulthood. Then, they asked these participants to rank the canine's level of attractiveness in each photo. (We have to admit that we're a little jealous that we didn't get to participate in this study!)
Dr. Wynne wants dog owners to know that this study is just one more piece of the sweet puzzle that is the connection between people and dogs. And of course, it doesn't imply that humans adore their pups any less after the eight-week mark has passed.
"The eight-week point is just the point where the hook is biggest, the ability of the animal to grab our interest is strongest," Wynne said. "But having grabbed our interest, we continue to love them all their lives."
For more pet cuteness, see the sweetest sleepy cats on the internet in the video below: