Monday, March 25, 2013

Are you smiling at me?

Some Dobermans smile.

This is an unsettling thing to the unprepared owner. If you're not versed in the package of canine body language, such smiles might look like snarls. It is a lifting of the lip and a baring of the teeth. But there is no piloerection, no stiffness of posture; when I've seen it in pictures and video, it's been accompanied by body wiggles and airplane ears.

Of course, there are generally accepted "dog smiles" as well:

Elka does not "smile"  in the "mistake it for a snarl" kind of way. She will do a similar thing, where her little lips are puffed over her canine teeth. My fianc√© insists that her lips simply got stuck when she picked up or dropped a toy. I've seen her do it with no toy involved. But, that's the way those things go sometimes, amiright?
(you can kind of see the puffed lips here a little bit, but this is definitely more a "traditional" dog smile)

I finally got a picture of her doing it, though it's one of the worst pictures ever, of course. The laser eyes don't really help. This was one of the "no toys involved" times it occurred.

I've tried to reinforce it, call attention to it, so that she knew I liked the behavior. It's been easier teaching her to Sneeze on cue, in fact. It's just a spontaneous behavior, one I just need to enjoy when I see it. Because (despite the weird picture above), it is just so darn cute!

As a bonus, Jesse the smiling Doberman from Youtube (who is not my dog. Jesse the smiling Doberman is simply a wonderful example of the smiling I'm discussing).


  1. Great smiles! (And I don't believe for a moment her lips just got stuck on her teeth!)

  2. How cute that she smiles on cue at the sound of your voice! Hope your surgery goes great like your mom says it will! Mine went well when I had to have it done. The hardest thing for me was wearing that silly clunky cone afterwards. Good luck!

  3. Awwww, I love doggie smiles.

  4. Oh Elka you do have the cutest smile and puffy lipped snarl, BOL
    Benny & Lily

  5. I'm not sure about dog smiles. I think we see a relaxed dog mouth with teeth showing as a smile because we're so human centered.

    Regardless of whether she's smiling or not, Elka always looks like a beautiful, happy girl.

    Honey only opens her mouth when she's panting. So I'm trying to find her smile in her tail, her posture, and her ears.

  6. Sampson smiles, it is the cutest thing ever. Hubby insists Delilah smiles too, but I don't see it with her, to me it's more like her lip got stuck on her teeth. :-)

  7. I like smiling dogs - I'm not able to smile - that's not common for my breed (but I can smile inwardly) Have a great Monday :o)

  8. My dogs only smile with their eyes and ears and, of course, tails.

  9. The first time Blueberry "smiled" at me I was unprepared as I had never seen a dog do that before. I moved away from her because we had only just met and I was a little nervous that maybe she was snarling at me and I was about to get bitten. I did some research on the internet and realized she was indeed just "smiling" - now when she does it I don't move away and I think it's just adorable. She's so sweet tempered I don't know why I ever doubted that for a minute other than I'd never seen it before.

    Love Elka's "smile"!

  10. Oh, I've seen Elka smile in quite a few of the pics you posted! She has a great smile!! I do it when Ma comes home, at furst she thought I was gonna sneeze, butts she figured it out soon enough. I was the furst of her doggies to 'smile' this way!!

  11. Wow that is a nice smile, lovely teeths you can tell your mama takes care of them

    urban hounds

  12. Greyhounds can do the same kind of smile, and I think it's adorable!

    Elka is so cute doing hers, too, but I hate how hard our favorite things are to capture them doing sometimes! lol

  13. Many Chessies smile. It is a breed characteristic. Not all, but many.

    Smiling Elka is cute.

  14. The photo of Elka looks like a face Meadow sometimes makes that we call her "Bitey Face."

    With Jess, despite how cute he is, I could see how someone could mistake that for a snarl.

    I never knew Dobes did this. Ours never did. It would have been cute if he had. :-)