By Thursday, October 24, 2019 16 No tags Permalink

Can dogs smile?

The other day someone saw this photo of the Boys on my phone and commented on the fact that Harley was smiling for the camera…

You would think I said “smile Harley” before I shot this!

Afterwards, they asked me –

Can dog’s smile?

“To tell you the truth, I don’t know” was my reply.

According to Victoria Schade – 

Dogs use their bodies to express happiness in many ways, but a true human-style smile isn’t normally one of them. We’re looking at happy dogs engaged in activities they enjoy, like playing or running, and translating their wide, panting mouths into smiles. The canine equivalent of a smile is a bouncy body, a loose tail wag, and a facial expression with soft eyes and a relaxed mouth and ears.


The intellectual part of me wants to believe and accept this answer as truth.

Yet the pet parent in me flips through additional photos like this one, and thinks – this looks like a smile to me…

That’s one HAPPY Boy!


Could it be that I am projecting my own body language into the equation when I think about their behavior?

Some experts agree that dogs smile because they know we humans love to see it. They’ve learned that our smiles are positive attempts of communication and they are mimicking our behavior. 

Sound a little over the top? 

Not really!

If we truly understand dog cognition – then a dog learning how to smile from observing us makes a great deal of sense.

It’s very similar to how we believe some dogs can speak words. Whatever sound we hear from them that we believe to be a word, we reinforce the noise resembling the word and they continue to do it.


What do you think? Can they?

According to our beloved dictionary, the word smile is defined as –

a facial expression in which the eyes brighten and the corners of the mouth curve slightly upward and which expresses especially amusement, pleasure, approval, or sometimes scorn. A pleasant or encouraging appearance.


Don’t know about you, but based on that definition, I’m betting ALL my benjamins that Harley is sporting a smile… 

I think it’s this fall weather we’re having that’s making him so happy!

At the end of the day, one has to just ask – 

is a smiling dog really smiling? 

Reading this summed it up for me – 

It’s safe to say that smiles are essential to the human body language vocabulary. We smile to manipulate other people as often and as naturally as we smile to connect with them. Why then shouldn’t dogs, who have spent the past fifteen millennia becoming masters of non-verbal communication with humans, be able to do the same?

Whole Dog Journal


Over the weekend, pay attention to your pup. When you see that –

  • upturned mouth
  • lips pulled back,
  • eyes and brows relaxed
  • tail wagging – 

remember what happened to bring all that on.  And while dog behaviorists give us the “scientific based” response about the expressions of our precious pups – tell me if you don’t say to yourself – 

Yep, my dog is smiling!

You go Jaxy – get your smile on!

A smile is the prettiest thing you can wear ❤️

  • Dashlilly
    October 24, 2019

    LOVE THIS POST!!!! Thank you!! Will happily do my homework!

    • Cathy Bennett
      October 27, 2019

      Wonderful!!! Let me know your findings please!

  • Madison
    October 24, 2019

    Oh yes, we do smile. Bailie smiles a lot, big smiles too. We are a lot more clever than many humans know. Smile on boys.

    • Cathy Bennett
      October 27, 2019

      I’ve seen photos of Bailey smiling, so I know you girls light up a room!

  • Patricia G Mcsharry
    October 25, 2019

    Good morning; I’m Hope and I’m with you Dog can do SMILE. I smile at my Mon and Dad allyhe time it makes them happy. Hope the dog

    • Cathy Bennett
      October 27, 2019

      GM Hope – I believe you when you say your smile makes your mom and dad happy. Whenever either one of the Boys smile at me, it seriously warms my heart.

  • Tails Around the Ranch
    October 25, 2019

    Looks like it to me!

    • Cathy Bennett
      October 27, 2019

      You and I are in the majority my friend! Have a great day 🙂

  • Ducky's & Radar's Mom
    October 26, 2019

    I don’t have to do the homework to know my dogs – past and present – not only CAN smile but DO smile! The part about us humans projecting our body language onto our dogs’ body language is, IMO, just plain hooey nonsense. Go by the dictionary’s definition of a smile, and you can see for yourself that our dogs do smile. I love your boys’ smiles!! ❤️❤️

    • Cathy Bennett
      October 27, 2019

      I couldn’t agree more! So many times I look at Jax and find myself asking him – “what are you smiling about?” Then I laugh because I’m once again – talking to my dog!

  • lisa
    October 26, 2019

    Of course he’s smiling! He’s part Golden Retriever! They always are smiling. 🙂

    • Cathy Bennett
      October 27, 2019

      Great observation Lisa – Golden’s seem to have a permanent smile on their faces 🙂

  • Bi kids Brumbelow
    October 26, 2019

    Once again dogs 1, hoomans 0. They are way ahead of in bonding, communication and understanding. Ask the animals and they will teach you.

    • Cathy Bennett
      October 27, 2019

      Don’t we know it! I am always fascinated when I come across articles such as this one. It makes me wonder if the folks who are writing them have pets at home LOL Interesting reading as well as discussions such as this! Take care!

  • Jan K
    October 27, 2019

    I always mostly thought it was just us humans projecting what we wanted to see, and calling it a smile. Luke is usually pretty serious when I get the camera out, and it’s tough to get a smile unless it’s hot out and he’s panting. However…..if I hold a treat in my hand above the camera? Yup, I get that smile….so that makes me think I was wrong! 🙂

    • Cathy Bennett
      October 27, 2019

      Don’t beat yourself up about being wrong Jan, look at it as Luke being right!!!!