Why Are Puppies So Cute?

Humans are obsessed with cute. We jump up and down, clench our bodies, and involuntarily emit a high pitched sound in reaction to the cuteness that scientists have dubbed, the “squee” response. 

Cute puppies evoke that visceral reaction in human beings, more than any other creature, but have you ever wondered why?  

1. Evolution Made Puppies Cuter

There are a lot of feral dogs in the world, and most abandon their pups around two or three months after they’re born, which means the majority of puppies are on their own.  

Young puppies still need care and attention. Studies show humans provide care and attention to animals they consider cute.  

Therefore, the best way for a puppy to survive is to appear cute in hopes of convincing a human to care for it.  

Puppies that were domesticated by humans passed their cute characteristics onto their offspring, perpetuating an unbroken cycle of cuteness that continues to this day. 

2. Dogs Evolved to Look Like Babies

Cute Puppy and Baby
Puppy “cute cues” are based on the characteristics of human infants; youth, vulnerability and the need for care and attention.

Studies have identified a collection of physical attributes and behaviors in animals and human beings alike that cause a human to “squee,” and puppies have every single one of them. 

These physical attributes and behaviors are known as cute cues and are based on the characteristics of human infants; youth, vulnerability and the need for care and attention.  

As a species, human beings are hardwired to respond to the needs of infants because human infants are among the most vulnerable in the animal kingdom.  

Humans are compelled by evolution to think babies are cute. Puppies are bred to perpetuate attributes that humans consider cute.  

Therefore human domestication of puppies favored those whose physical attributes and facial movements exhibited childlike characteristics. 

3. Survival of the Cutest 

Puppies use cuteness as a survival mechanism to convince humans to care for them.  

Studies have shown that humans consider puppies to be cutest around the time they are weaned from their mother and at their most vulnerable.   

Big Heads and Tiny Bodies – Like babies, puppies are born with a skull that is disproportionately large for their small bodies.   

Big Forward Eyes – The eye is an evolutionary wonder. Herbivores evolved wide eyes situated on the side of their head, which gives them the ability to spot approaching predators from nearly any direction.  

On the contrary, big forward-facing eyes are characteristic of carnivores who use them to find, track and hunt their prey.  

Humans happen to consider big forward-facing eyes exceptionally cute, which is a characteristic that puppies have been exploiting for food and attention since the dawn of man.  

Floppy Paws and a Wobbly Walk – Puppies are generally born with limbs that seem just a little too big for their body, especially large breed puppies.   

Just like human babies, puppies are wobbly because their bodies are still developing. However, unlike human babies, puppies learn greater coordination in just a few short months.   

Round and Chubby – Puppies have tiny stomachs, big appetites and a lot of energy, which means there are a lot of pudgy puppies out there. 

4. Cute Dogs Get Placed Sooner And More Often 

Cute Puppy
Today, studies show the cute puppies for sale are adopted at a much faster rate than dogs who are considered “less cute.”

It’s as true now as it was when man first met dog, cuter dogs get adopted or placed sooner. 20,000 years ago wolves were considered a deadly threat, deliberately kept at bay and regularly hunted.  

Over time less aggressive wolves moved closer to human groups to scavenge the remains of human dinner.   

Wolves that exhibited the cute characteristics and were non-threatening to humans were allowed to stay with the group, eventually evolving into the modern dog.  

Today, studies show the cute puppies for sale are adopted at a much faster rate than dogs who are considered “less cute” though we strongly assert that there is no such thing as a “less cute” puppy.  

5. The Fluffier, The Better 

Being fluffy is good! Fluffy puppies are not only cute, they are playing a trick on anything that might give them trouble.  

Fluffy puppies look bigger than they actually are, and when it comes to survival, looking big is best. 

6. Softer, Rounder Features Kick Up The Cuteness 

Cute Puppy
Through selective breeding, puppies have evolved a number of cute characteristics, some beneficial to survival, some not.

Who doesn’t love a pudgy puppy? They’re round, soft and look like a loveable ball of fluff that you can’t help but squeeze.  

Humans have always felt that way about pudgy puppies which is why they keep breeding them to be softer, rounder and cuter.  

In fact, through selective breeding, puppies have evolved a number of cute characteristics, some beneficial to survival, some not. 

7. Ready for Their Closeup – Photogenic Features Matter 

Evolution reveals the traits puppies use to survive. Today, a puppy’s greatest evolutionary trait is its photogenic cuteness.   

Most pet adoption shelters post cute puppy pictures on their websites for their puppies in need of a new home.   

Animal adoption studies show that photogenic puppies are more likely to be adopted than puppies who don’t photo as well.   

Black fur is rarely photogenic, as a result, black puppies are adopted and a lower rate than puppies with lighter coats.  

If you’re going to post a cute puppy video or pic remember every good puppy pic includes a floof, a snoot and a blip.  

8. Good Nature is Rewarded, Aggression Is Punished

rewarding the puppy
Humans reward good nature in puppies which has perpetuated the trait for thousands of years.

No puppy wants to be a bad boy, because bad puppies are punished. Humans reward good nature in puppies which has perpetuated the trait for thousands of years.  

In the early years of dog domestication, aggressive dogs were not selected for breeding, and many were euthanized outright.  

Mild-mannered and affectionate puppies were selected for breeding eliminated many of the aggressive characteristics inherited from their wolf ancestors. 

9. Humans & Evolution Prefer the Cutest Breeds….

Many dog breeds have gone extinct since the early days of K9 domestication, however, due to human preference and evolution cute puppy breeds have endured for thousands of years, including:  

  • Akita Inu 
  • Basset Hound 
  • Beagle 
  • Bichon Frisé 
  • Dachshund 

10. All Dogs Are Puppy,and All Dogs Are Cute!

Golden Retriever Puppies
Everyone has a different opinion on what they consider to be cute, which explains the existence of so many dog breeds.

Everyone has a different opinion on what they consider to be cute, which explains the existence of so many dog breeds.   

We are yet to see a puppy that we didn’t consider cute, so whether you love squat and fat, big and sweet or small and spunky, be sure to give your cutest friend the same amount of love and affection as they give you.