Dog Lifestyle, Pet Health, Pets and Family

Can Dogs Actually Smile? Three views from dog experts

You may have heard that I recently adopted a Great Pyrenees we named Ruby.  I had never asked myself whether dogs can actually smile since I just knew that most all of my dogs were pretty much happy all of the time.  

However, Ruby made me worried.  Is she happy can she tell me she is happy?  Can dogs actually even smile?  She came to our house after two others in her short life and she seemed worried with all of the activities (and we all know Happy Dogs are a big subject around here).  

But then I captured this picture I automatically thought,

YES, dogs can actually smile! There is plenty of evidence all around us that our dogs can smile.  They may mirror us or they may just be happy but there is definite evidence that dogs can smile.

In an article on PetMD discussing dogs smiles, Kim Brophey, certified canine behavior consultant at Dog Door Behavior Center in Asheville, North Carolina, TEDx speaker and author of “Meet Your Dog,” sees dogs “smiling” as an adaptive facial expression and behavior with a range of evolutionary functions and benefits. 


Highlighting a communication correlation, she says, “What we view as ‘smiling’ can serve to mediate conflicts, communicate deference and facilitate bonding.” Brophey notes that dogs naturally appear to employ adaptive “smiling” behaviors as a social skill and expression of emotion. She adds, “Though it’s fun to think about dogs as smiling deliberately, the reality is that there are very complex evolutionary forces at work.” 


We think that this means that the general consensus from dog behaviorists is NO, dogs cannot smile.


Dog Trainer’s Perspective on Whether Dogs Can Actually Smile


Victoria Schade, certified dog trainer and author of the book “Bonding With Your Dog,” says, “Dogs use their bodies to express happiness in many ways, but a true human-style smile isn’t normally one of them.”

Schade explains that we’re looking at happy dogs engaged in activities they enjoy, like playing or running, and translating their wide, panting mouths into smiles. She adds, “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.”

We think that this means that the general consensus from dog trainers is NO, dogs cannot smile.

The Dog Lover’s Perspective on Whether Dogs Can Actually Smile


As a dog lover, I have been around hundreds of dogs both happy and at times sad.  The truth, there is no doubt dogs can smile.  Of course they can, they have teeth lips and the good life so why would they not smile? 

It may be that they are mirroring our behaviors of the clever amongst us trained them to smile but either way we have seen too many smiles to not believe dogs are smiling.  


If you do not believe me then these pictures can surely clear things up.  

How could this not be considered a smile from @whiskey.and.zeus _

husky cute

Or @urshaevya 

These Havanese pals seem to know exactly how to pose and smile!  @havanese_ted

We think that the evidence here speaks for itself and from the Dog Lover’s Perspective of course dogs can smile.  They do it every day.  

We talk a lot about everything about dogs in our new Book Mother Puppin’ Adorable: What to do when your dog is better than everyone else’s.  Get it to learn about happy dogs and so much more!