The concept of a dog smiling is something we hear frequently. Business even have “best smile” contests where you can send in a picture of your dog’s grin to win a reward. But do dogs actually smile? If so, does there smile indicate the exact same thing as when we smile?
Dog Smiling: What Does It Mean?
Perhaps the most common “smile” from a dog, is the submissive smile, so called due to the fact that dogs do it when trying to “appease” another dog or individual. In this pose, the dog lifts his upper lip approximately expose his front teeth with a closed mouth. Puppies will do this to older dogs, and dogs will do it to us when they are unpleasant about something or if the individual or other dog is showing hostility to them. And keep in mind, much like people, not all dogs use the specific very same expressions. Each individual dog will have their own traits.
The issue with the “submissive smile” is that it can look really much like an aggressive “smile” or snarl. Dog’s will also pull their lips back to reveal with front teeth when they are about to bite. Often, the lips go back (different from the vertical lift seen in the submissive smile). BUT, in some cases they will raise the lips up in the same way, making it difficult to inform if the dog is calming you, alerting you of impending aggression, or if the dog himself has actually not chosen which route to take.
” [My] just caution is that without seeing the entire dog, often the smiles can be misinterpreted. It’s good to take the facial expression together in context with the remainder of the dog’s body language to be sure it’s a smile and not an aggressive display screen,” cautions Robin Bennett, CPDT-KA.
Compare the dog with the submissive smile, happily supplied by Tao Of The Paw, with the snarling dog in the second picture. Because both of these smiles look very comparable, is necessary to take a look at the rest of the dog before chosen how to react. Otherwise, you may get bit by a dog that was offering you clear signals to stay away.
In wolves, the expression we consider a smile suggests anxiousness or submission to another wolf. Dogs also are hard-wired to translate the expression in this manner. To indicate that he accepts his secondary position, a subordinate dog pulls back the corner of his lips, which pulls the mouth into that pleased face we acknowledge as a smile.
Do Dogs Smile Out of Happiness?
Generally when dogs are stated to be “smiling” in the anthropological sense, from happiness, it is when they have ears forward or in the relaxed state for the breed, unwinded eyes, and a big wide open mouth, with tongue hanging out, in some cases panting too. So, is this a delighted dog?
“I think there is some joy since the body language of the dog who is smiling often contains some of the loose, wiggly signals we would see in a happy dog. However, I don’t know that joy is the only emotion,” states Bennettt.
For instance, a dog with an open mouth that looks delighted, might in fact be hot and uneasy or stressed out, neither of which would be thought about “pleased” by a human.
Next time you are pretty sure your dog is happy take a look at the entire image and see if you can inform what she is actually attempting to state to you. And definitely do that before you approach a dog that possibly cautioning you to stay away.