When a Puppy Is so Cute You Literally Want to Bite It

Exploring the natural phenomenon of puppy-bite urge

By Leslie Phelan


My friend just got a puppy with her boyfriend the other week. They’d been contemplating it  all winter, and with the spring weather kicking in, they finally took the leap. Needless to say, I wasted no time getting over there to meet the new fur ball.

Good God, is this thing cute! I melted when she greeted me at the front door and was wading around in a puddle of my own clucky-ness until the moment I left, floating out the door still high on new puppy scent.

I cuddled the heck outta that puppy! I held her in my hands, nuzzled her silky little ears, and wrapped her in a little fleece blanket like a baby burrito while she napped in my arms. It was heaven! I was on cloud nine over her cuteness! Everything wrong with the world just seemed to melt away while the urge to squeeze her to smithereens took me over! I wanted to . . . seriously, it’s messed up . . . but I, for real, wanted to bite her, she was so cute.

Weirdest thing! But yeah, I could’ve totally taken a bite out of her round little head. It is a fact that if I had been any less sober, I definitely, totally might have.

This model is obviously just trying to get through this shoot without biting any puppies.

This model is obviously just trying to get through this shoot without biting any puppies.

Leaving their place, I was awash in contemplation. But why did I want to bite the puppy? Do other people find themselves wanting to bite puppies, or am I the only weirdo?

Concerned for my own mental state as well as for the welfare of cute things everywhere, I wasted no time looking for answers with the help of my trusty old friend Interweb. To my relief, I discovered that the strange instinct I experienced is actually a known, studied thing!


Absolutely bite-thought worthy.

The informal name for this phenomenon is “cute aggression,” but its scientific name is Dimorphous Expression, according to psychological scientists at Yale University who describe the reaction as one created by our brains to help us control our emotions.

Apparently, the human brain has many ways of regulating emotions. Sometimes we rethink situations, sometimes we try and repress our feelings, and sometimes we remove ourselves from whatever situations cause these feelings. But in these new discoveries surrounding cute aggression, we’re figuring out that sometimes our brains respond to a situation with the opposite expression from what we really feel, in an effort to help us balance out any overwhelming feelings in any one direction, like feeling crazy insane affection towards adorable, helpless beings. It is a very natural reaction to their sweet, tiny innocence, and it has a very human, very sociologically relevant purpose to it, however odd it feels to experience it.

So you see, it is definitely not that there is a dark and murky second personality within you that is secretly a puppy-(or kitten- or baby-) eater; it’s just your brain helping you handle the overload of cuteness so that your heart doesn’t overinflate with love and blow you away.