Do Dogs Really Smile?


We bet almost all of us can feel our hearts melt whenever we see dogs smiling. But do dogs really smile? It’s very easy to get confused between their grins and smiles, and scientists say they haven’t even found out if dogs show these expressions as signs of being happy! But we dog people, we can say there are many reasons why a dog might smile, like when they get their favorite snack or when their hooman comes home. Some dogs even smile at the sight of water parks, whereas some dogs grin at them. Both of these reactions will look very similar on a dog’s face, making it difficult to interpret. Just like how it works for humans, dogs too have subjective smiles. What makes some dogs happy will not make other dogs happy and smiley. But but but. Are they even smiling?

Do dogs smile?

For many years, it was believed that dogs and other animals never smile due to joy. According to animal behaviorists, smiles on dog faces occur due to the results of muscular reflex. This view of animal behaviorists has resulted in mixed reviews from dog owners; they couldn’t believe how their dogs weren’t smiling out of joy.

Do Dogs Really Smile?

But recent research shows that animals like dogs smile to express their emotions in the same way as humans do, but this hasn’t been proven completely. This, also, will differ from circumstance to circumstance. Dogs do not smile for everything that humans smile and laugh at. Dogs can be seen smiling even if they are calm, relaxed and chill. As mentioned before, their smiles appear when their muscles are relaxed.

A dog’s smile can be quite complicated to identify, even though it looks like those of humans. A relaxed dog will have its mouth open and might be panting while being calm  with no tension. The corners of its mouth will be turned upward slightly. Therefore, a dog’s smile cannot be identified with its facial expressions alone. Its body language should also indicate that it’s actually smiling and not just grinning. A fully smiling dog will have the posture of lowered head, tail wagging, relaxed ears, soft body gestures. Meanwhile a grinning dog will have a stiff body posture with alerted ears and head and will appear ready for defense. 

Do Dogs Really Smile?

One thing that has been proven is that a relaxed and content dog will definitely have a smile on its face. Pet owners should be more observant in what makes their dogs have the biggest smiles. 

So dogs might not be particularly ‘happy’ in human terms. They would just be chilling, and they would have smiles on their faces. Now, it depends on you. Do you think your doggo is happy to be chilling?

Do dogs laugh?

Do Dogs Really Smile?

The concept of dogs laughing is still a debate. Many researchers and animal behaviorists say that dogs can’t laugh, at least in the context of human laughs. Despite this, dogs do make a similar sound that is caused by the breathing and panting whenever they are playing or engaging in some physical activity. The laughing sound can also work as a sign by them indicating that they want to play. They use it on humans, and on other animals as well. This painting also includes cues of body languages such as play bows, head pat, jumps or using their paws to invite. 

Fun fact: Animal behaviorist Patricia Simonet at the Sierra Nevada College recorded dogs making this play-pant sound and discovered that it had a broader range of frequencies than a typical dog panting. She concluded that this meant it could be considered a type of dog laugh. This play-pant sounds made by dogs are different from the panting they do at other times, for example, to keep themselves cool in warm weather. When these recordings were played to puppies, the kiddos became very cheerful and active. It also helped in calming dogs in dog shelters. Contact joy!

Do Dogs Really Smile?

Interpreting a dog’s reaction is very important, but also complicated. Analyzing it only based on the facial expression can be deceiving, leading to false results. Hence, it is essential to pay attention to the complete body language before labeling their emotions. A dog smiles when it is happy, excited, calm and relaxed. This will be accompanied by tail wagging, happy jumps, soft body posture and both it’s in ears in a  relaxed state.

So, to answer the questions ‘do dogs really smile?’ and ‘is my dog really smiling at me?’… It most probably is! We mean, come on. Dogs are the purest, most non-conceited creatures in the world. Why would they fake a smile? 

You now know the answer to ‘do dogs really smile?’. Here are some things you do that your dog hates.


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