The paintings are popular because they are funny and therefore amusing, an inherently pleasure-causing quality. Exactly why they are funny is not fully determinable, but a likely reason is that they are ridiculous, a quality closely associated with humor according to various theories of humor (incongruity theory, computational-neural theory, ontic-epistemic theory, and benign violation theory, for instance).
There is a subtle humorous quality and emotional depth to the paintings based on the following:
- Dogs have extremely complex emotions and try to “act” cool/excited/sad/upset, which is betrayed by their inability to control certain other physical cues that “give away their hand” so to speak. For example, if a dog was playing poker and got a good hand, he’d put on “a poker face” like nothing happened, but then you’d see it salivating, ears perking or tail wagging uncontrollably.
- Only dog owners or those with significant experience with canines can really understand canine behavior and the range and complexity of emotions they display, which gives the series a more personal connection and adds an emotional layer of depth.
- Subtle humor also exists in the fact that dogs do not have opposable thumbs, which prevents them from actually being able to play poker.