Why Do Dogs Smile? Are They Really Happy When They Smile?

Nidhi Sahai
Feb 07, 2023 By Nidhi Sahai
Originally Published on Oct 14, 2021
Fact-checked by Vikhaash Sundararaj
Corgi dog smile and happy in summer sunny day
Age: 3-18
Read time: 4.7 Min

Dogs can make it look like they are smiling even if they are actually not.

Most of the time, dogs just smile for humans. It is very rare to see a dog smiling at another animal or dog.

A dog smiling is often considered a positive reaction towards humans or other situations. Dogs are not naturally programmed to smile, it’s a special skill that they have!

During their evolution, dog's ancestors and got to know humans and figured out the importance of smiling.

Dogs are one intelligent species and so they know that smiling is charming and can build a better relationship with a human. Whenever a dog is treated by a human with affection or food, they smile with the hope that they might get praised or treated again.

Just like humans, a dog smiling with its teeth produces a hormone called oxytocin which is also released when someone see a loved one.

They also use this expression to ask their friends to play outside or show some affection towards them. Judging by the amplitude and pitch of our voice, a dog will try to work out what we might be thinking and react accordingly.

Dogs smiling with teeth can also help their owner or trainer interpret their body language and behavior. When a smile is accompanied by a wagging tail, it is considered a good sign.

Most of the time, showing teeth is not an aggressive facial expression but dog owners should be able to tell when it is.

When dogs have a facial expression with an open mouth and their tongue out during a training course, this is often just panting. When dog owners play with their dog or pet them, it's often a moment of joy for their pup which their panting and behavior will show.

People often believe that, when a dog is wagging its tail, it is happy, however that is not always the case.

This may be a method of communication with other animals or a sign of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with something. Although dogs can't speak, these kinds of expression can be read clearly.

If you are enjoying this article, why not also read our articles why do dogs cough and why do dogs lick wounds here on Kidadl?

Do dogs smile when happy?

Dogs understand the importance of showing praise towards any good thing their master does. That's why they smile and show that they are happy as well. Whenever a dog gets treated by a human, its immediate smiling reaction is a result of its emotional satisfaction.

There can be many reasons behind a smiling dog. They might feel joy and smile when their owner finally returns home after a long day at work or feel really happy when they see their favorite food.

Sometimes they just like to hear their owner call to them. In these cases, a dog will probably smile with excitement.

Therefore, dog's grins are most likely the result of humans giving them food or playing with them. Another common time when dogs smile is when you take them out for a drive in the car and they can feel the breeze blowing through their hair.

Why do dogs smile with teeth?

Dogs smiling with their canine teeth showing, an averted gaze, ears flattened against their head, and a relaxed body posture is usually a sign of happiness.

Additionally, a very popular and widely excepted reason behind dogs smiling with their teeth is that they are letting you know that you are their masters and they will obey you. In this way, their smiles can be a sign of respect towards a person.

It is less common, when a dog smiles with its teeth, that this is a sign of aggression. Much of the time, a submissive grin means you are the leader.

Due to this, smiling with teeth is often considered as non-threatening body language.

You should pay attention to the posture of your dog whenever it smiles with its teeth. Usually, a person can observe what appears to be relaxed behavior in their pet when it is smiling.

Happy and smiling Welsh Corgi dog outdoors in the grass.

What does it mean when dogs smile?

Dogs show their love and compassion by smiling at humans. If your dog is smiling then you probably have a happy pet.

Whenever a dog smiles with its lips curled up, this means that the dog is happy and wants to appease you. A dog is usually feeling very content when it smiles, but it could also be a submissive grin.

This means that your dog is probably enjoying their owner's vocal communication and actions. If your dog is smiling and making direct eye contact with you, that can mean that he needs more attention on your end.

How do you know dogs smile?

If you want to know whether your dog is smiling or not, just look for the lifted corner of your dog's mouth and have a go at reading their body language.

Although we might assume that a dog showing its teeth is it smiling, there can be other reasons behind it too.

Showing teeth is not always the same thing as smiling; sometimes dogs use it as a sign of aggression in some circumstances. Most commonly, a dog will wag its tail, lower its head, have flattened ears, a soft submissive body posture, and squinty eyes if they are feeling relaxed.

If around other animals or dogs, you may see a dog smile with teeth as a way of showing dominance.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do dogs smile then why not take a look at why do dogs eyes water, or why do dogs drag their butts.

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Written by Nidhi Sahai

Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication

Nidhi Sahai picture

Nidhi SahaiBachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication

Dedicated and experienced, Nidhi is a professional content writer with a strong reputation for delivering high-quality work. She has contributed her expertise to esteemed organizations, including Network 18 Media and Investment Ltd. Driven by her insatiable curiosity and love for journalism and mass communication, Nidhi pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, graduating with distinction in 2021. During her college years, she discovered her passion for Video Journalism, showcasing her skills as a videographer for her institution. Nidhi's commitment to making a positive impact extends beyond her professional pursuits. Actively engaging in volunteer work, she has contributed to various events and initiatives throughout her academic career.

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Fact-checked by Vikhaash Sundararaj

Bachelor of Fine Arts specializing in International Business

Vikhaash Sundararaj picture

Vikhaash SundararajBachelor of Fine Arts specializing in International Business

With a background in International Business Management, having completed his degree at the University of Hull. Vikhaash has volunteered with 'Teach For India' to help students create a monthly newsletter. In his free time, he enjoys sports and was the assistant captain of his school's hockey team. He has also gained marketing experience through an internship at Decathlon Sports India.

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