All puppies are cute, right? But at what age are they the absolute CUTEST? If you can believe it, scientists have figured it out. According to Arizona State University, puppies are at peak-adorable when they’re 8 weeks old. And it’s at that age that they “hook” humans into caring for them for the rest of their lives. And here’s a not-so-crazy coincidence: That’s also the exact age at which they’re weaned from their mother and left to them to fend for themselves.

Psychology professor Clive Wynne is the director of Arizona State University’s Canine Science Center, and for his research, he observed stray dogs in the Bahamas, taking pictures of them at every stage, from birth through young adulthood. Then he had study participants rate the attractiveness of the puppies. And he found that puppies reach maximum cuteness at exactly the same age they can no longer rely on their mother for food and care and are essentially kicked out of the family den. So, they hook humans with how adorable they are – and their chance of survival is infinitely greater.

Of course, once we’re hooked on loving a dog, the love doesn’t fade as they get older. And we can fall in love with a dog at any age. But nature has done dogs a great service by making them crazy-cute, right when they need it the most.

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