This is the exact age when puppies are the cutest

Yes, it’s true that every dog is cute at every age, but now it’s been scientifically proven that puppies actually reach an age of peak cuteness. A team of scientists in the United States and the Netherlands, led by researcher Clive Wynne, have studied human responses to puppies of various ages and breeds to reach the conclusion that the cutest age—that is, the age at which they were ranked most attractive to people—is between six and eight weeks. In addition to being super cute, these are some other superpowers that dogs have.

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11 superpowers dogs have
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11 superpowers dogs have

Super sniffer

Don’t even try to hide treats from your dog. His nose knows you have them. Just don’t let him get his paws on any foods dogs can’t eat. Dogs’ sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times more sensitive than that of humans. Just how powerful is that? As James Walker, former director of the Sensory Research Institute at Florida State University, told PBS, "If you make the analogy to vision, what you and I can see at a third of a mile, a dog could see more than 3,000 miles away and still see as well."

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Internal storm tracker

There are some weather myths you shouldn’t believe, like lightning never strikes the same place twice. But here’s one you should never doubt: Dogs can sense when bad weather is coming. Researchers don’t have an exact explanation—maybe your pet actually is a superhero!—but they have some theories. Dogs are sensitive to drops in barometric pressure that come with severe storms, and they can hear low frequencies that humans can’t, like far-off thunder and earthquake rumbles. You shouldn’t solely rely on your pet over meteorologists, but don’t let their weird behavior go unnoticed. It could save your life.

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Secret tail code

As if having an extra extremity wasn’t cool to begin with, dogs can also use their tails to communicate. (This is what your pet secretly wants you to know.) They lower their tails when they feel scared or nervous. When they’re alert or aroused, the tails wag higher. If a pooch is aggressive or feeling threatened, that tail will stick straight up in the air. Plus, dogs can tell how other canines are feeling based on what direction they wag in. Italian researchers discovered that dogs became more anxious when they saw others wag their tails to the left, as opposed to the right side or not at all. Previous studies showed that left-leaning tail wagging was a result of a dog having a negative experience, like facing a nasty dog.

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Doggy diagnosis

Dogs and humans know how to take care of each other. You look out for the signs that your dog is sick, and dogs can tell when you’re not 100 percent healthy, sometimes even before you know it. Thanks to their powerful sense of smell, dogs can pick up on volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in human bodies, which include diseases like cancer. In 2006, dogs trained at the In Situ Foundation were able to detect lung cancer with 97 percent accuracy and breast cancer with 88 percent accuracy, just by sniffing breath samples from patients. Those are better results than needle biopsies.

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Telepathy

Well, kind of. Dogs can’t exactly read your mind, but they do know how you’re feeling. In a study published in Biology Letters, researchers showed dogs photos faces displaying different emotions while also playing an audio clip that showed a distinct emotion. What’s interesting is that the dogs looked at the face that corresponded to the type of voice that was being played, like a mad face when the audio clip was an angry voice. So your pet may not be able to process the words “You ate all of my cereal?!” like humans can, but she can definitely use your facial expressions and tone to pick up that you’re not in a great mood.

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Empathy

Yes, empathy is a superpower (one that humans can harness with a few exercises!). Not only do dogs and pups understand your feelings, but they can also empathize with you, according to a report from Psychology Today. Psychologists from Goldsmiths College in London conducted the same study on 18 dogs: Each dog would watch while their owner sat across from a stranger. The two individuals would take turns talking normally, humming in an unusual pattern, and pretending to cry. The psychologists reasoned that when their owners cried, the pets would lay on them, nuzzle, lick, or otherwise try to comfort them. But the dogs ended up also comforting the crying strangers, even though they had no emotional connection, just because they saw that they were distressed. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all empathized like dogs?

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Built-in GPS

You’ve probably heard stories about pets that found their way home despite terrible odds and long distances. For instance, this cat broke out of a shelter to go back to his rescuer. But once again, dogs’ noses are a crucial part of their uncanny sense of direction. They are able to follow their own scent trails for miles to retrace their steps, and if the wind is right, they can even use their owners’ scent as well, TIME reported.

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Sonic hearing

While we meager humans can only hear sounds up to 20,000 Hz (vibrations per second), dogs can hear up to 60,000 Hz. Dogs’ large ears are on the top of their heads, prime real estate to pick up noises humans miss. Plus, they have about 18 ear muscles, which allow them to rotate, tilt, and raise their ears to get an amplified sound. If you thought these household noises were annoying, just think of how much they bother your pooch!

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Night vision

Our eyes get more accustomed to darkness the longer we’re exposed to it. (That’s why you should never turn on the lights if you hear an intruder.) Dogs, on the other hand, have eyes that are made to automatically see well in the dark. Their large pupils let more light in, and the rods in their eyes work better in dim light. But the biggest factor is the tapetum, which reflects light at the back of the eye. That helps them see in light that’s five times dimmer than what humans need to see clearly.

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Super speed

Take it from us: You don’t want to challenge your dog to a race. On average, canines clock in at about 19 miles per hour, but many can go over 35 mph if they’re running in short spurts. The fastest dog breed is the greyhound, which can reach 45 mph. To compare, the fastest humans can only run 28 mph. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t run, though. It can make you live longer.

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The best prescription ever

Just being in the presence of a dog can make you healthier. Petting dogs can reduce stress, help your body release a relaxation hormone, and lower blood pressure (which, in turn, reduces your risk for heart disease.) Studies have also shown that pet owners are generally happier and more trusting. Plus, they go to the doctor less frequently for minor problems.

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It’s not just a random age, though. Prior to carrying out the study, researchers correctly hypothesized that the puppies would be cutest around the time of weaning, when they are abandoned by their mothers and forced to fend for themselves. National Geographic UK cited the fact that among feral puppies under a year of age, the mortality rate is about 90 percent. So it’s critical for these puppies to be able to find someone to care for them once their mothers don’t anymore.

Most dogs in the world aren’t pets, so being spotted at this irresistible age by a human could mean a chance to be adopted and increase the likelihood of living to adulthood. This research is a clue that humans’ fondness for a cute face may have actually helped to shape the evolutionary development of dogs. And though we clearly succumb to their cuteness quite easily, pets give to us just as much as they take. Check out some of the ways we benefit from having pets.

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Best dog breeds for kids
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Best dog breeds for kids

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

"The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a wonderful family pet; a gentle, calm dog, who is happy to be combed and brushed," says Dr. Emmett. "This breed is, however, less enthusiastic about games, such as tug of war, and rough-and-tumble play. King Charles Spaniels are a good match for a more urban lifestyle and a sensitive child." What does that wagging tail mean?

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Golden Retriever

"The Golden Retriever is one of the most well-known dogs because of their gentle, caring temperaments. They are able to lounge around the house for an afternoon or take a hike through the woods," says Pete Lands, DVM, Director of Emergency and Critical Care at Saint Francis Veterinary Center. Goldens are very bright and easy to train. They're also stoic when it comes to kids. "While they may not like it, Golden Retrievers tend to be apathetic to young kids pulling on their ears or tugging at their tails. This makes them one of the best family dogs you can find," he adds.

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Labrador Retriever 

They look large-and-in-charge, but Labs are famously child-friendly. "The Labrador Retriever is a reliable family pet," says Dr. Emmett. "This breed has an insatiable appetite for games and play and is well suited for an active outdoor lifestyle and a child who likes to run, throw balls, and play Frisbee." These are the most popular breed dogs in every state.

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Beagle

Cute as a button, sweet, and gentle, these pack animals thrive on companionship. According to the American Kennel Club, these charmers make excellent family dogs because they are loving by nature, love to play, and have goofy personalities. If you want a dog who wants to be with people, this is a great breed for your family. Pass Beagles up, however, if your house is always empty during the day.

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Irish Setter

Does your family love a good group jog or a game of beach Frisbee? If so, an Irish Setter will be the perfect fit for you. Regal to look at and energetic beyond words, this breed grows to be large, around 50 to 70 pounds and has a long lifespan, so they can grow up with your kids. Irish Setters make great companions, are wonderful with children, and have lively dispositions. They also love to play with toys and balls. Don't miss these secrets dog trainers won't tell you.

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French Bulldog

Frenchies, as they are affectionately known, are diminutive in size, but big in personality. Known for their affectionate natures and silly "bat" ears, French Bulldogs were bred to be companion dogs. The perfect family dog for apartment dwellers, Frenchies do well in small spaces, and love being around kids. French bulldogs also love getting dressed up for Halloween.

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Boxer

Make a Boxer part of your family, and you will never feel unprotected again. Fiercely loyal and protective of those who love them, these energetic, medium-sized dogs have calm dispositions, but love to play. They need lots of exercise, but beware of driving them too hard in hot weather. Like all squish-faced (Brachycephalic) dogs, they tend to overheat. Keep your pooch safe all summer long with these 28 warm-weather health tips for dogs.

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Cocker Spaniel

There's a definite possibility that Cocker Spaniels think they are people. They're gentle, loving, very smart, love being around children, and tend to always put themselves in the middle of the action. They also make great therapy dogs and may be a good fit for an anxious or special needs child. Their beautiful, floppy ears make them prone to ear infections, so keeping them clean and groomed is essential.

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Bichon Frise

These little bundles of low-shedding fur are some of the friendliest dogs on the planet. Sweet, affectionate, and playful, the Bichon Frise is a fantastic playmate for energetic children. Their small size makes them a great city dog, provided you give them lots of walks. According to Animal Planet, they're loyal to a fault and do best with consistent training and moderate amounts of activity. These are the dog breeds most compatible with your (or your child's) Zodiac sign.

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Collie

Rough Collies are known for their majestic, flowing coats, while smooth Collies have shorter coats. Rough or smooth, Collies make great family pets. (However, rough collies require more grooming.) This breed is incredibly intelligent and likes nothing better than to engage in activity with the children who love them. They're fast learners, loyal to their families, and protective. Just ask Lassie.

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Poodle

Have an allergic child? According to Health, Poodles might just be the ticket for you. While no dog is completely hypoallergenic, Poodles seem to come close, because they appear to produce fewer allergens. They also come in three sizes—standard, miniature, and toy—and an abundance of colors. These adorable goofballs are super-smart, easy to train, adapt well to new situations, and love kids. Here's your official guide to picking the best dog breed for you.

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Labradoodle

An intentional mix of Poodles and Labrador Retrievers, Labradoodles are as adorable as their name. A medium-shedder, Labradoodles were originally bred to be even-keeled and empathetic, so they could be trained as guide dogs for visually-impaired people. This breed couldn't be more affectionate, or more adorable. Note that they need lots of exercise and tend to get along great with other dogs.

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Pug

This Instagram-darling brings with it major cuddle-factor. Their cutie-patooty smiling faces and cozying-up tendencies make Pugs a popular favorite for children who prefer gentle play to roughhousing. These playful pups were bred to be lap dogsand adore being around people. They're clever, quiet, and make great family pets.

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Chihuahua

Long-haired or short, Chihuahuas are the tiniest of all dog breeds. They tend to adore children and are very loyal to their families. Chihuahuas love the indoors and are not fond of very cold weather, perhaps because they're thought to have originated in Mexico. They're easy to train and love the lap of the person who loves them best. Watch out for these secret signs that your dog is mad at you.

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Chug

Chugs are a specific breed comprised of Pug and Chihuahua ancestry. Many have the best characteristics of both popular breeds, making them great pets for children. According to Pet Guide, Chugs are a designer dog with characteristics that vary from liter to liter. Like their forebears, most will make good family dogs. They're loyal, affectionate, intelligent, and love to play.

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Havanese

This tiny charmer is the national dog of Cuba. They have exuberant personalities and adore people of all ages. Havanese dogs are very social and outgoing. A loving breed, they also enjoy playing games. They're a toy breed, so not a great fit for rough-and-tumble play, but they're perfect for families who are looking for a silly, outgoing friend for their child. Read on for the 50 secrets your pup won't tell you.

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Bull Terrier

Bull Terriers and Miniature Bull Terriers make fantastic pets for older kids. They are sweet beyond belief, very protective, and very trainable. The American Kennel Club calls them mischievous, playful, and charming. Known for their silly, comical antics, and crowd-pleasing behavior, Bull Terriers need lots of exercise and lots of love.

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The post This Is the Exact Age When Puppies Are the Cutest appeared first on Reader's Digest.

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