Dog Smile: Is It True Or Did I Just Imagine It?

Dog's smile: is it true or did I just imagine it?

Updated on October 13. 2023

It has happened to all of us: you look at your furry friend, and he gives you an almost human smile (and more sincere than some people's). But it's true? Do dogs smile? If he asks you if your dog's smile is real, we'll tell you about it below.

Do Dogs Smile?

Dog trainer and author of the book "Bonding with your dog" Victoria Schade argues that while dogs use body language to convey their happiness, they do not have a human smile.

So ... that relaxed mouth, that hanging tongue, and those sparkling eyes aren't a smile? Well, more or less.

The equivalent of a smile on the part of dogs is, precisely, a bouncy body, a loose tail wag, and a relaxed facial expression, both at the level of the mouth and the ears.

Dogs communicate primarily through body language, and while a relaxed, open mouth can indicate a content and relaxed state, it's crucial to observe the dog's entire body and consider the context to understand their emotional state accurately.

In some cases, what appears to be a smile can be a sign of stress, overheating, or submission, depending on other physical cues. Always look at the overall body language, such as the position of the ears, the tail, and the posture, to interpret a dog's emotions and intentions accurately.

In summary, while a "dog smile" might resemble a human smile and indicate positive emotions when viewed in the right context, it's not a smile in the human sense and should be interpreted considering various factors and with an understanding of canine communication.

In conclusion, are there canine smiles or not? 

Dog Smile: No Conclusive Data

The truth is that experts agree that the smiles of dogs cannot be compared to those of humans since the latter appear as a response connected to emotions while the canine smile would be an adaptive response.

What does this mean? Well, simply that a dog smiles as a way to facilitate bonding and not deliberately. Also, the smile of your furry friend would be reinforced by your expression when you see him, by your caresses and, even, the prizes you give him.

Thus, your dog smiles in response to your behavior. Let's not forget that puppies have a "master" in human behavior and know how to recognize our moods ... and how to help us.

Discover: 7 Tips For A Dog-Friendly Holiday

What Does It Mean When Dogs Smile? 

When dogs "smile," it can signify various emotions or responses to their environment. Understanding the context and accompanying body language is key to interpreting a dog's smile accurately.

👌 Submissive Grin

Some dogs display a submissive grin, which involves pulling back their lips and showing teeth in a non-threatening manner. This is often a social behavior to show submission and avoid conflict with humans or other dogs.

❤️ Relaxed and Happy

A relaxed, open mouth with a lolling tongue, often seen during play or enjoyable activities, can indicate that a dog is happy and content. Observing the overall body language, like a wagging tail and relaxed posture, will confirm positive emotions.

☀️ Panting

Dogs also "smile" or open their mouths when they are hot and panting. This is a physiological response to cool down and should not necessarily be interpreted as a happy expression without considering the context.

😡 Aggression Warning

Sometimes, baring teeth can be a warning sign. If the dog's body is stiff, ears are pinned back, and the tail is raised or puffed up, this "smile" might indicate a threat rather than friendliness.

🧑‍🏫 Learned Behavior

Some dogs learn to "smile" because it gets a positive reaction from their owners. If a dog notices that smiling leads to attention, pets, or treats, they might use this expression to engage with people.

    Always consider the overall body language, situation, and known personality of the dog to accurately understand what their "smile" means. If you're interacting with an unfamiliar dog, proceed with caution and respect their space, even if they appear to be smiling.

    Does My Dog ​​Smile?

    In short, specialists argue that the doggy smile is nothing more than an adaptation of our furry companions to our lives, an automatic response to our body posture, and our reaction to its expression.

    They even note that the canine submission gesture resembles a smile by reflecting a relaxed gesture.

    However, we at Give a Sh!t are convinced that our canine friends smile ... or at least we want to believe it because is there anything more beautiful than a dog's smile? It's one of the reasons to get a dog...


    Is A Dog Smile Really A Smile?

    Is A Dog Smile Really A Smile?

    While dogs do have a variety of facial expressions, attributing human emotions or expressions like "smiling" to dogs involves a bit of anthropomorphism (attributing human traits to non-human entities). When we say a dog is "smiling," it's essential to note that the physical expression might not convey the same emotional state as a human smile does.

    A "dog smile" might look like a smile to us, but it doesn't necessarily mean the dog is happy or content in the same way humans are when they smile.

    Do Dogs Like To See You Smile?

    Yes, research suggests that dogs can recognize human emotions and that they respond positively to seeing their owners smile. Dogs are incredibly attuned to human emotions and body language, and they often can differentiate between different human facial expressions. 

    How Rare Is It For A Dog To Smile?

    The occurrence of a dog "smiling" isn't particularly rare, but it can depend significantly on the individual dog, its personality, breed tendencies, and how it has been socialized or trained. Some dogs "smile" quite frequently, especially if they have learned that doing so elicits a positive response from their owners or caregivers. Others might not display this behavior as often.


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