Canines have been integrated into human life and we dog owners pretty much view them as part of the family. Some dog owners have reported seeing their dog smile. There are hundreds of pictures, memes, videos and photos on social media sites like Facebook and YouTube to back up this claim. Human beings associated smiling with happiness, and therefore we think when our dogs grin and show their teeth, they are smiling. But is this really true?

Reasons – why dogs smile. Dogs smile on command. Dogs are easy to teach new tricks and tricks. Some people have trained their dogs to smile on cue. The command can be as simple as calling out your dog’s name followed by a random statement. For instance, if your dog’s name is Babu, you can say,” Babu! Smile”. The word does not have to relate to smile. Dogs do not have language comprehension, and therefore it will not matter which words you use. Any familiar word would fit just fine as this is most important ever to some people.

Similarly, can teach your dog to smile on command by using physical motions. An example of these is tickling his whiskers to get him to lift his lip. This trick works on almost every dog I have encountered. It is advisable to exercise caution when doing this because some dogs may end up feeling uncomfortable and resort to biting you as a way of telling you to back off.


Expressing happiness

A lot of animal experts believe that dogs have lived with human beings so much that they have begun adapting to some of our behaviors. According to them, because human beings smile out of joy, so do dogs. They also claim that dogs smile because we reward them for it. When your dog smiles, you get instantly happy and start giving him/her treats, petting him and rubbing his/her tummy.

The dogs have taken note of this, and through this positive reinforcement, the cycle continues. A smile of joy in dogs usually comes with relaxed eyes, ears forward, a big full open mouth having the tongue dangling outside, and also panting. The dog’s body language contains attributes of happiness. Some people have however claimed that dogs do not have advanced brain capacity and therefore cannot control their emotions. Others have argued that when a dog opens his/her mouth, tongue out and starts panting, he/she is most likely uncomfortable stressed or hot. Regardless of all that, this smile genuinely looks like a happy smile on most dogs I encounter.


Showing you they are not a threat

When you introduce someone to your dog, how they react can potentially show you how they feel about them. When dogs want to show people that they are harmless, they will project a smile accompanied by a lowered head and soft squinty eyes. This smile may also be accompanied by a less toothy grin, panting and no facial expression.


Expressing submission

There is a theory that says dogs smile as the way of expressing submission. The minute you walk into your door after some time away, your dog quickly welcomes you with exciting hops, a wagging tail, and a broad smile. Dogs always want to appease their owners and smiling is one way they have noticed does the trick. Have you watched any videos where an owner is scolding a dog for doing something like trashing the house or eating a cookie? The dog might react in a smile, and this is what is known as the submissive grin. They also smile in this way to appease fellow dogs.


The aggressive smile

Sometimes, you may think that a dog is smiling while it is not. In fact, it could be the exact opposite. Have you ever visited a friend who had a dog and immediately the two of you were introduced the dog revealed this smile-like grin? Dogs often snarl at strangers for many reasons. This smile involves pulling up of the lips to show their front teeth. It is usually accompanied by a growl, ears facing forward and forward centered weight.

Whenever dogs do this, they are almost always about to attack the person they are “smiling” at. They may also do this if they feel their owner is in some kind of danger and it is a way of warning them. The smile is accompanied by aggressive body language. The dogs themselves often do this when they feel insecure, and as their guardian, you should get tips on how to calm them down whenever they get like this.


It’s all your head

When we see dogs engaging in activities they like, we immediately assume that any physical thing they portray is related to the feeling of happiness. When you take your dog to the park and play “catch, “you will probably notice your dog smiling and immediately jump to the conclusion that they are happy Your dog is probably just anthropomorphizing.

Anthropomorphism can be defined as the attribution of certain human characteristics to animals and objects. In this case, the characteristic is smiling. Many people believe that when dogs make huge messes in the house, they are angry. Similarly, when does smile they are happy. This is merely a human anthropomorphic interpretation on these behaviors.

Some canine behavior specialists have claimed that the happiness of a dog is expressed through body language in ways such as; having a bouncy body, a loosely wagging tail and a facial expression characterized by soft eyes and a relaxed mouth and ears. They also claim that this phenomenon we think is smiling could be an adaptive way for dogs to communicate and foster bonding.



There is no scientific evidence that our furry four-legged companions smile because they genuinely are happy. There are several theories about why dogs smile, and we should take them all into account when dealing with smiling dogs. Remember, do not be duped into thinking you actually brought joy into this animal’s life. Whatever the case, they look great in photos when they smile.


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