It’s long been said that a man’s real best friend is a dog. As well as being super cute, the furry animals are able to make deep connections with us humans. But how? And why?

Well, according to a recent study published in Science Advances, it’s down to a few genetic mutations that have led dogs to have friendly personalities. In fact, there’s a common gene between dogs and humans that may be related to friendliness. Evolutionary scientist Bridgett von Holdt conducted a study that identified a gene that’s mutated more often in dogs, and that corresponds to one in humans born with a condition called Williams-Beuren syndrome. People with this syndrome tend to be especially friendly, and this led her to make comparisons with sociable personalities in dogs.

However, there are still external factors that can shape a dog’s personality and interaction with humans, such as whether or not they were raised in a loving or abusive home. There’s also a theory floating around about why dogs are so obsessed with, and affectionate towards humans, and it’s got something to do with the evolution of wolves.

The idea is that thousands of years ago, wolves began following human hunters to scavenge on their kills. Friendly wolves may have been given extra scraps of food by these hunters, while frightened or vicious wolves may have been killed. Hence, it’s thought that over time, wolves (who later evolved into dogs) learnt to be affectionate and social towards humans. I mean, they may have started off by using us for food, but it’s clear to see that they now love us (and vice versa!).

If anything, these scientific theories about dogs have just made us want a puppy even more. They’re just so darn cute.

This post was written by Arianna Chatzidakis. It originally appeared on our sister site, The Debrief.

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