Science Explains Our Centuries Old Attraction to Puppies

Why Do We Love Puppies So Much?

Ever wonder why we are so attracted to babies and puppies alike? When we see them, their features attract us into feeling ‘kawaii,’ that is, they are too cute. As a species, this attraction in us has been engineered so that we always take care of and protect the babies around us. This not only applies within species, but also across, which explains why we love dogs and puppies.

Neoteny Attracts

There is a strong universal attraction that takes over when we humans look at infants of our own species. This is majorly due to the cute features that these newborns have. Because of these features, they attract their guardians to take care of them, this effect is so strong that even strangers or different species like dogs aren’t immune.

Ancient Companions

Ancient Companions

When humans started hunting and gathering, ancient wolves coexisted, and in areas of Eurasia and Europe, there is evidence of close encounters. Upon observing the wolf cubs closely, ancient humans started gradually keeping wolf cubs with them. Over the years, these wilder creatures evolved to develop more ‘neotenic’ features than their counterparts. With smaller skulls and snouts with more rounded large eyes, they continue to attract humans. This quality of theirs has also been seen in the popular character Mickey Mouse who has huge rounded ears and eyes.

Making Them Social Symbols

While humans domesticated other species, they unknowingly retained and developed neoteny themselves as well. These manifested in physical features and behaviors where we continue to play like children. This is where the current trend of humans playing with puppies comes in. As humans developed and settled, companionship became more important. The Aztecs, Mayans, and Chinese saw them as companions and also symbols of social stature. This is especially visible through the depictions in art and the practice of burying them with items showing their high value. This is when the smaller species of dogs that we see today came into being.