Do Golden Retrievers Smile-Understanding The Golden Retriever Smile


Do Golden Retrievers smile? If you have a Golden Retriever or have met a Golden Retriever, then you have probably seen the Golden Retriever smile. It can melt your heart, and for whatever reason, it seems that many Golden Retrievers do smile at people and other dogs.

Do Golden Retrievers Smile

Many Golden Retrievers smile from a very young age.

Let’s take a look at what a Golden Retriever smile means and help you understand the Golden Retriever smile.

Types Of Dog Smiles

There are few different types of smiles that you might see from your Golden Retriever, and you will see different smiles for different situations.

The Panting Smile – This is when your dog has his lips pulled back, mouth is hanging open and his tongue is hanging out. They are usually panting and trying to cool down. They look happy and are probably enjoying life.

The Submissive Smile – Your dog will bare their teeth in an almost comical way. They usually lower their body posture, have squinted eyes and an upturned neck. They are signaling deference to you, others they meet or they might even do this to other dogs that they meet. They want to show you they aren’t a threat to you.

The Aggressive Smile – This can accompany a growl. They are feeling uncomfortable or threatened and they are warning you to stay back.

How To Read Your Dog’s Smile

It is important to be able to read your dog’s smile, so you know how they are feeling about a situation. At times the aggressive smile and submissive smile can look very similar, so you should read the other body language that your dog is showing you.

Do Golden Retrievers Smile

I couldn’t find any pictures of a Golden Retriever with an aggressive smile, but this is an aggressive smile.

With a submissive smile, your dog’s ears will be forward or in a relaxed state. Their body will be loose and Golden Retrievers will usually get real wiggly with excitement. They are showing you they are happy and excited about the situation.

An aggressive smile will have your dog’s posture much more rigid. The ears will be pulled back and their body will be tense. They are uncomfortable and feeling nervous with the situation. It is best to back your dog away or remove him from whatever is making him feel uncomfortable.

I have to say, it is pretty rare that a Golden Retriever is going to feel aggressive. They generally are happy-go-lucky dogs, with few things making them feel uncomfortable.

The panting smile is also one to observe with your dog. You might think they are just panting and fine, but this can also be a signal that your dog is in pain and uncomfortable. Panting that isn’t caused for exercise or heat generally will come from a dog that is in some type of pain.

Watch your dog when they get up or down to see if they might be experiencing pain in their joints or other parts of their body.

Teaching Your Dog To Smile

If you notice that your dog is smiling at different situations, it is easy to train your dog to smile on command. You dog may already be learning how to smile if every time that they smile at you, you make a big deal and get excited.

Do Golden Retrievers Smile

The submissive Golden Retriever smile.

If you want to teach you dog to smile, when you notice that they are starting to smile, either immediately reward them with a treat or if you have trained your dog with a clicker, click when you dog starts to smile and praise them. Continue to repeat in the same manner you have trained your dog for other skills.

Before you know it, your dog will be able to smile on cue, even for your family photos.

Do Dogs Really Understand Smiles

There has been some debate whether dogs really understand smiles or not. Many believe that a dog will smile at you to appease you, or from learned behavior of how you have reacted when they have previously smiled.  They have also seen you smile and might be copying what you do.

Dogs are always studying our actions on a daily basis to help better understand how we are feeling and our moods, along with understanding what is going to happen next in the day. Many believe that they learn from the cues we display how we are feeling.

Smiling would be one of the cues that dogs learn. When we are smiling, we are happy and dogs can quickly learn that. There was a study done in regard to understanding smiles by Live Science that discusses dogs being able to recognize smiling faces.

Being a dog lover and having owned 3 Golden Retrievers over the years, makes me a believer that Golden Retrievers understand smiles and understand how to give smiles back.

If You Have A Smiling Golden Retriever, Warn Others

Do Golden Retrievers Smile

The panting smile

People that aren’t familiar with your dog or people that aren’t very experienced with dogs, can really be frightened by your Golden Retriever smiling at them. Many will feel that your dog is being aggressive and some will think your dog is going to bite them.

Now if you have ever had a Golden Retriever or have much experience with a Golden Retriever you realize that most Goldens just want to be friends with everyone, and they aren’t really good at scaring anything away, or at being watch dogs.

My 2 Golden Retriever litter mates both were smilers. One is gone at this point, but I still have one. When someone would see them that weren’t familiar with them, they could get quite scared. Here would come 2 Golden Retrievers side by side, both of them smiling.

We never did train them to smile, but they did it from a very early age, and never stopped. My 11 year old was just smiling today at someone who came to the house.


So if you were ever wondering do Golden Retrievers smile, they most definitely do, and mine never even had to be trained to do it. It is just their way of greeting people. The Golden Retriever smile can make you smile right along with them. I have to laugh each time they smile.Do Golden Retrievers Smile

They are now known for their smiles, and when I take mine to the veterinarian, I can hear them trying to make my dog smile for them when I am not in the room with him.

You should now have a better understanding of the Golden Retriever smile and what it means.

Hopefully you are lucky enough to get a smiling Golden Retriever, but if they don’t do it naturally, it is easy to train them to smile for you.

If you have any questions or comments or what to share stories or pictures about your smiling dog please do so below. You can follow justforyourdog.com on Pinterest, FaceBook or Twitter for all the latest dog updates.


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