Best Of The Web
“All puppies are cute,” explains Clive Wynne, the head of Arizona State University’s canine-science laboratory. “But not all puppies are equally cute.” Indeed, breeders have long found that puppies become their cutest selves at the eight-week mark; any older, and some breeders offer a discount to bolster would-be owners’ weakened desire. Such fine-tuned preferences might seem arbitrary, even cruel. But recent research indicates that peak puppy cuteness serves important purposes—and might play a fundamental role in binding dog and owner together.
In a study published this spring, Wynne and his colleagues sought to pin down, scientifically, the timeline of puppy cuteness. Their finding largely matched that of breeders: People consistently rated dogs most attractive when they were six to eight weeks old. This age, Wynne says, coincides with a crucial developmental milestone: Mother dogs stop nursing their young around the eighth week, after which pups rely on humans for survival. (Puppies without human caretakers face mortality rates of up to 95 percent in their first year of life.) Peak cuteness, then, is no accident—at exactly the moment when our intervention matters most, puppies become irresistible to us.
It doesn’t hurt that humans seem to be especially vulnerable to cute things. Research dating back to the 1940s shows that virtually any creature with babylike features—large eyes, a bulging forehead, short limbs—is capable of drawing our affection, from the unsurprising (seals, koalas) to the odd (axolotls, a type of salamander) to the inanimate (Mickey Mouse). But canine cuteness is uniquely human-directed, and its strategic deployment is not confined to puppies. In a 2017 study of dogs ages one to 12, psychologists in the United Kingdom showed that people’s pets were significantly more likely to raise their brows and stick out their tongue when humans were looking at them, visual cues that lend grown canines a puppyish air. Other research makes clear just why dogs seek to command our attention in this way. Oxytocin, the so-called love hormone, has been found to surge in dogs and their owners after they look in each other’s eyes—initiating the same feedback loop that exists between human mothers and their babies. In other words, the more dogs get us to look at them, the more tightly bonded to them we grow.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"Ever since the second-largest Ebola outbreak began raging in the Democratic Republic of Congo in August, health authorities have feared that the virus might one day spill over DRC’s porous borders. That moment, unfortunately, has arrived."
"Even in these tortured times, it is worth devoting a small sliver of outrage to the fact that Jared Kushner—whose only qualification to senior-advise the president on policy is that he is married to the president’s daughter—seems to have taken..."
"The 1967 Six-Day War ended with what many people considered a miracle. It allowed Israel to do what it could not do during the War of Independence 19 years earlier: Liberate Jerusalem and unite the capital; take control over the ancient parts of..."
"Love, in the world of Walt Disney films, has changed. Between Tangled (2010) and Moana (2016), the ideal of heterosexual romance has been dethroned by a new ideal: family love. The happy ending of our most-watched childhood stories is no longer..."
"The recent California Democratic Party convention in San Francisco exposed the divide between the state’s progressive and working-class voters. Progressives, in their militant certitude, support left-wing policies that often don’t affect them..."
"Seven years after the arrival of 4G, EE has finally switched on the UK’s first 5G networks in six UK cities – and more are coming. The upgrade promises much faster data connections but conspiratorially-minded online activists are convinced that..."
"Scroll below any news network’s tweet about an act of human kindness or survival and you’ll find the grateful replies: “Finally, some good news for a change,” and “We need more stories like this!” and “Faith in humanity restored!”"
"How many words can you fit in a subtitle? For a slew of modern books, the answer seems to be as many as possible. Just look at Julie Holland’s “Moody Bitches: The Truth About the Drugs You’re Taking, the Sleep You’re Missing, the Sex You’re Not..."
"This parenting thing is bonkers. Parenting a special needs child? Super bonkers. How else to describe the reality of constantly making decisions that one’s supremely unqualified to make, decisions that impact the life of a child?"
"A sour, unfamiliar, and not particularly pleasant smell began to waft through the house, not what you would expect from bread that was fresh out of the oven. But this wasn’t ordinary bread, it had risen thanks to some exceptional yeast that had..."
"The glaciers are melting, the coral reefs are dying, Miami Beach is slowly going under. Quick, says a voice in your head, go see them before they disappear! You are evil, says another voice. For you are hastening their destruction. To a lot..."
"Is Judaism a tradition linked directly to the Bible, taking us back to Mount Sinai, i.e., the original word of God? Or is it a general code of law that slowly evolved over the years into what it is today? If we delve into the Talmud, we will..."