Are Dogs Really Smiling at Us?

Your dog opens its mouth, pulls its lips up, and hangs its tongue out. There is no mistaking this expression as anything other than a smile, right? But are dogs really smiling at us? Are they using the same expression humans use to show us that they are feeling pleasure or joy?

As a dog owner, you probably feel thrilled when your dog supposedly smiles at you. After all, a happy dog is the most handsome dog. Your dog could look at you with its beautiful eyes and smile when you are scratching its belly or giving it a treat for being such a good girl.

If you aren’t sure whether dogs smile, why their lips pull up at the corners, or what their expression is truly indicating, dive right in, we’ve got you covered.

Are Dogs Really Smiling at Us?

For a long period of time, dog behaviorists have believed that dogs do not smile because they are happy or experiencing some form of joy, but they are smiling because it is a muscle reflex action. This discovery made people believe that a dog’s smile does not reflect its genuine emotions. However, in recent years, this view has been challenged.

Some new studies indicate that some animals smile at humans because they express emotion in the same way we smile when we want to show someone what we are feeling on the inside. However, it is important that, as humans, we tweak our mindset so that we can understand whether our dogs are really smiling at us.

For example, when you are watching a comedy at the end of a long day, and someone says something hilarious, and you smile – you cannot expect this action from your dog. Your dog is definitely not smiling because they find something hilarious on television. Instead, they smile when they feel relaxed, content, and happy. It all boils down to how your dog feels at a particular moment.

Sometimes, dogs will also smile when listening or showing submission to their owners. A smile will usually pop up on their cute little face when their face muscles are completely relaxed, and they are at peace.

How Can You Tell if Your Dog is Smiling?

Did you see the corners of your dog’s mouth lift up, and now you are curious to know if it is really smiling at you? Well, the good news is that there is no denying that a dog’s smile looks exactly like a human’s smile.

According to the ASPCA, when a dog is relaxed, it will open its mouth and pant slightly with no tension in its face. Since all the muscles in the face are loose, you will find that the corners of the dog’s mouth are upturned. Moreover, sometimes, you may also notice the dog’s teeth when it is smiling. Usually, when you see a dog’s teeth, it is a sign of aggression. However, if the rest of the dog’s body is relaxed, you should be able to tell how it is really feeling.

One dog smile to look for is known as the submissive grin. This happens when the dog only shows its front teeth. However, when a dog is happy, it does more than that. It will lower its head, wag its tail around, flatten its ears, have a loose body posture, and its eyes will go soft. In fact, you might even be able to look into your dog’s eyes and see the love in them. Even though teeth-bearing dogs are usually aggressive dogs, it is crucial to notice the body language and understand what emotions the dog is trying to communicate to you.

Why Your Dog is Smiling at You

There are many reasons why your dog may look at you and smile super excitedly. Maybe you have just come home after being at work for several hours, and your dog is thrilled to finally spend some time with you. Maybe your dog heard you opening a bag of treats and ran across the house to ensure that it gets a little piece of whatever you are having. Or maybe you took your dog out on a ride, and it loves sitting in the backseat of the car, enjoying the wind as it hits its long fur.

As with humans, what makes a dog smile can be subjective. What makes one dog smile can completely differ from what makes another dog happy.

A Smiling Dog Might be Copying You

It has been suggested that dogs may have learned how to smile from their human counterparts over the years. Smiling is a standard action that dogs have seen every human mimic, so it is possible that dogs have started to copy us. This would show that a dog has sharp social skills as it can understand what its masters are doing and, over time, mimic their behavior.

If dogs have learned to smile through humans, we can deduce that they are capable of connecting to us in ways that we might have never thought possible. In fact, it is no wonder that a dog’s smile always looks funny and awkward, almost like when a little child is told to smile, but they have not fully learned how to smile in the most natural way yet.

In Closing

There are many contradicting studies on whether dogs are smiling at us. However, we can all agree that dogs are great at understanding humans. They can easily learn social cues, understand when we are feeling sad or happy, and learn to cooperate with their masters.

One thing to keep in mind is that dogs do not express happiness through their smiles as humans do. Humans might laugh when we find something hilarious, but dogs do not understand jokes. When they smile, it is purely to indicate that they feel relaxed and at peace.