Material Information

Canine Domestication and Human Sensitivity to Canine Cuteness
Chersini, Nadine
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
Undergraduate Honors Thesis


Subjects / Keywords:
Age groups ( jstor )
Animal domestication ( jstor )
Artificial selection ( jstor )
Breeding ( jstor )
Dogs ( jstor )
Humans ( jstor )
Infants ( jstor )
Natural selection ( jstor )
Parenting ( jstor )
Weaning ( jstor )


The origin of the domestication of the dog is unclear and based on previous studies remains under speculation whether it had evolved through artificial selection or natural selection. Characteristics of the domestic dog include different breeding patterns, sexual fertility age, and reduced parenting compared to its modern wild counterparts. Particularly, the domestic dog has an earlier weaning age of 5 to 8 weeks with no subsequent parenting. The purpose of this study is to investigate human attraction towards dogs of different ages. According to previous studies the “baby schema effect” is a response of humans towards juvenile physical features in humans and animals, finding them cute and feeling motivated to take care of them. The present study hypothesized that physical characteristics responsible of the “baby schema effect” are found in greatest proportion in puppies of the weaning age of 5 to 8 weeks old. Participants rated photographs of three dog breeds (Jack Russell Terrier, Cane Corso, and White Shepherd) aged from birth to 7 months old, based on attractiveness, on a scale ranging from 0 to 100. The average rating of attractiveness for the dogs of weaning age were significantly higher than ratings of younger or older age groups (p<0.001). These findings suggest that humans may have contributed to the changes in parenting care of the canids during their evolution of domestication.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida Institutional Repository
Holding Location:
University of Florida
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All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.