Did you know that there’s a scientific basis for why humans find puppies so irresistibly cute? If you think about why human babies and toddlers seem so adorable, you’ll recognize that puppies have the same type of appeal, sharing features like big eyes, plump cheeks, large heads and tiny legs with their human counterparts. We’re attracted to high-pitched squeals, wriggly imps and snugglers and soft, round shapes. These features all show vulnerability, which sparks a nurturing instinct in most people. Here are the seven cutest puppy breeds, according to science.
When anyone sees an English bulldog puppy, they immediately want one of their own. English bulldog puppies appear unbearably vulnerable, with short pudgy legs and a rotund body. They seem to have more difficulty walking than the average pup. Their faces appear particularly round and their large cheeks pronounced because of their snub snouts. Plus, their wrinkles are irresistible. Floppy ears, as is often the case with this breed, highlight the perception of vulnerability. Studies show that humans are attracted to features that make dogs look more vulnerable, like infants are. Finally, English bulldogs’ high-pitched, appealing attempts at yapping are out-of-this-world endearing. No puppy dog struggles to bark like a bulldog.
When a Labrador is a puppy, it is a far cry from the beautiful and athletic dog it will grow up to be one day. The adorable pups have floppy ears that make them seem especially vulnerable. They look and feel soft. When someone presents you with a round ball of fur in the form of a Labrador retriever puppy, chances are it will inspire you to keep it safe. A Lab pup’s large round eyes add to its appeal and further support the notion that they need special care. It also helps that they love to cuddle. And who can resist throwing a ball or other dog toy with a labrador retriever puppy?
A Dachshund’s tiny size alone automatically brings out the caretaker in humans. Canine dwarfism enhances their appearance of vulnerability, and dachshund puppies have it in spades, whether the puppy is standard size or miniature. Their eyes are large and soulful, and their ears are oversized and floppy, giving them quizzical expressions that will make you smile. With a long body that puts an insurmountable challenge on its disproportionately short legs, an energetic dachshund pup is the picture of cuteness.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
If large, pleading eyes, shortened snout, and flattened ears are not enough to steal your heart, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has a large, dome-shaped forehead. Scientists believe this head shape in a dog is so attractive to humans because it closely resembles the appearance of infants. A large head relative to the body size highlights the role the skull has in protecting a highly functional brain. Many intelligent beings, like primates, elephants and dogs, are completely dependent on the care of others for their survival into adulthood, which is why this head shape in a puppy is so cute to humans.
Pit Bull Terriers
When pit bulls are puppies, they are not very muscular. They are, in fact, quite small and round. Their cheeks are large and squeezable, and their large eyes face adoringly forward—a common feature of adorable puppies. Since their ears are disproportionately large at a young age, these pups are full of charm. A sweet disposition and docile temperament are additional infantile characteristics that make people want to care for a pit puppy.
Everyone loves a beautiful baby, and Akitas have the characteristic good looks of the Spitz family. It’s easy for people to love their pets when they are so darn cute. As puppies, they look like miniature teddy bears with short, fluffy fur. Soft and plush reminds people of warmth and caring. They also have adorable little wrinkles between their eyes, which are large and soft. Most of the time, when they’re puppies, their ears are still floppy. Akita puppies are small with adorable yips and bubbly growls that come nowhere near what their bellowing voices will sound like as adults. Their stout little bodies with half-mast tails are irresistible.
Perhaps the main feature that makes German shepherd puppies so cute is their set of ears. Their ears are disproportionately large and out of control when they are puppies. Many times, their ears don’t stand up until six months of age or later. When the ears finally do come up, they are still floppy, with one falling down. German shepherds have more than their ears to help them steal your heart. They have large, innocent eyes, trusting personalities, gangly legs and fluffy puppy fur. They need time to learn to bark and run efficiently. Add to this the Shepherd pup’s goofy personality, and you would never know it might one day become one of the most versatile working dogs. Look at this lineup of German Shepherd puppies and tell me they’re not adorable!
Your personal experiences will make different puppy breeds more appealing to you. This list is by no means exhaustive, but these puppies garner more than their fair share of admiring looks and attention. And it is all based on the science of baby schema, or infant-like characteristics, that appeals to humans on an elemental level.