Help Scientists Prove That Dogs Are The Cutest With This Hashtag

Written by: Zoe Costello

September 17, 2015

Biologist and Ecology student at Virginia Tech, Anne Hilborn and her supervisor, Marcella Kelly, have incited a war between fellow scientists on social media. And boy oh boy, is it adorable. Awwdorable?

In an interview with John Green on Australia’s ABC radio Hilborn talks about the dawning of #CuteOff saying, “The biological community is very active and very competitive, actually, when it comes to showing off their study animals…It sort of snowballed… until it appeared scientists all over the world were competing desperately to have the cutest study animal of them all.”


We at BarkPost may be a little biased… maybe… when it comes to designating the cutest animal of them all, but the proof is in the puppy pudding my friends:

Yawn if you’re the cutest species.

While dogs and puppies will, paws down, always be the cutest animal, the #CuteOff wars have introduced us to some unbelievably adorable, and otherwise unknown, cutie contenders.

Anne Hilborn’s cheetah candidate is, much to our canine-loving chagrin, damn cute.

You gotta bee kidding me. Bees!? Y’all cute as heyll!

You’re a Disney princess.

All these little bugaboos (science terminology) got us wondering about cuteness in general. A seemingly arbitrary notion, what makes something “cute” is a subject that researchers have been investigating since the mid-20th century. Ethologist, Konrad Lorenz came up with the baby schema, or Kindchenschema theory identifying the following traits as adorable: “(a) large head relative to body size, rounded head; (b) large, protruding forehead; (c) large eyes relative to face, eyes below midline of head; (d) rounded, protruding cheeks; (e) rounded body shape; and (f) soft, elastic body surfaces.”

Well, when you put it like that…

In other (not so creepily specific) words, we attribute cuteness to things that resemble human babies. Men and women are wired to feel a protective instinct when they see a baby (and to be clear, anytime I write “baby” or “babies” I am referring to the human kind, I can’t bring myself to type “human babies” more than once…) so big, wide eyes paired with smaller facial features all atop a hilariously adorable, big head on anything reminds us of our own kind, which then triggers a flood of endorphins and feelings of affection in us. Fuzziness doesn’t hurt, either.

Cartoonists have been keen on this cuteness knowledge for awhile now.

cute animation

Another theory behind what makes something cute, involves one of my favorite pastimes, anthropomorphizing! Since much of our “cute standards” are attributed to similarities to human babies, it makes sense that another factor contributing to adorable-ness is a species’ resemblance to human expression. Particularly anything that mimics a smile.

Exhibit A-wwww:

It’s true that these theories and Kindchenschema’s tenets could apply to a lot of different baby animals. But, I mean come on…

…this debate…

…is over #CuteOff #DogsRule


Check out the #CuteOff and follow us on Twitter for more utterly adorableness. Oh, and by the way…

Over my dead-from-spider-bite body.

…There’s a turd in the punchbowl.


H/t via Stuff You Should Know and Slate
Featured image via We Heart It

Written by: Zoe Costello

September 17, 2015

Nutritionist-crafted food for your dog's breed or mix.

Recipes designed for dogs' individuality



A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.