There’s no doubt about it, dogs definitely do smile! Just look at the pictures here.
Plus, I’ve witnessed (witness) my own dogs sharing some pretty nice sized grins on more than one occasion.
Our four-legged friends and little bastions of furry and drooling beauty, look at us with nothing but love, yet we question the obvious!
This article is actually a follow-up to one I did several years ago about whether or not dogs really do smile. I forgot about that article, but you can check it out here if you like.
Those loving looks can, of course, be interpreted a number of ways. Dogs have a number of ways to communicate, whether through wagging their tails or baring their teeth.
These can sometimes mean different things at different times, but the question on our minds today is simple: do dogs smile?
A lot of dog owners believe that their dogs do. They see their dogs as having a whole series of expressions, from happiness to concern to distress and even stress.
But is that part of the way we humans tend to personalize animals? After all, we have movies full of talking cats and animals. And we talk to our pets and dogs all the time.
What The Facts Say
The facts tell us that dogs have a set of similar facial expressions to humans because they carry a similar set of facial muscles.
The scientific consensus is that animals do experience a limited range of emotions (I’m not sure that I completely agree with the term “limited” with regards to animals experiencing emotions). These primary emotions include fear, sadness, anger, and even happiness.
Some scientists believe that animals can experience a secondary range of emotions, like jealousy or even embarrassment. Duh, of course they do! These guys need to get out of the lab and just be a dog owner!
Indeed, there are a couple of clips on YouTube that seem to point to the existence of an ashamed dog.
We also know that those dogs communicate those emotions in a variety of ways.
Scientists often point to a study that involves shelter dogs and the sound of laughter. The laughter calms the shelter dogs, which leads to the impression that there is a certain emotional component to how we relate to our pets. It’s not all that hard to believe that a dog might react using facial muscles and innate emotions to produce a smile.
There is also the physiological matter of a dog’s lips “horizontally retracting” into what could be considered a smile as a way to illustrate that the dog is non-threatening.
This is largely assumed to mean that it tackles any possible impressions of aggression by diffusing the situation, much in the same way humans smile to set the mood.
The fact of that matter is that we may never really know if dogs smile or not in the sense that we do. We can make a best guess and use some of the science we have to point to something that resembles a smile, but we’ll never know for sure what a dog is smiling about or what the significance is.
I Sure Like to Think They Are
I don’t need science to tell me when my dog is happy and if she’s smiling. I know her and I know what she’s trying to convey to me. So, if we want to believe that our dogs are smiling up at us, so be it.
The best advice I can give here is to smile back and then give your best friend a big hug. 😮