Scientists discover humans find flat-faced short-haired rabbits the cutest

British scientists have discovered what physical attributes people find cutest in rabbits.

Researchers from Nottingham used an online survey to get people to rate how cute they thought rabbits were, discovering in the process the rabbits with the flattest faces were deemed cutest.

Almost 21,000 people around the world completed the survey and the research was released in the journal Animals in late September.

The researchers suggested the rabbits with flatter faces looked cuter because they resembled wild rabbits less, but noted the trend towards flatter faces comes with some health concerns.

"Rabbits with flat faces are at higher risk of developing considerable health problems, including painful dental problems," the researchers said.

Study lead author Naomi Harvey told the BBC rabbits with flat faces could face a lifetime of health issues.

"If you're buying a rabbit with a very flat face it might develop tooth problems or be more at risk of getting ear infections and eye infections.

"That's going to be painful for the rabbit and it's going to be horrible for you as the owner to see it suffer."

Aside from flat faces, the study participants reported preferring rabbits with soft, medium-light fur and generally being short furred.

"These results support the theory that the human preference for the baby-like features of flat-faced rabbits has driven their popularity," the researchers said. 

"We would encourage breeders to avoid breeding extremely flat-faced rabbits due to the associated health problems and to focus instead on breeding more preferred mildly flat-faced, erect-eared rabbits."