GUEST POST by Peter Reynolds.
When it comes to finding a happy-looking dog to take a photo of, you won’t find a bigger smiler than a beautiful Staffordshire Bull Terrier. But do Staffies (and other dogs, for that matter) actually smile because they are happy in the same way a human does?
Well, the answer is… kind of!
Below we run through the five reasons Staffies may look like they are smiling.
1. Laughter Contagion
While dogs don’t smile in quite the same way as humans do, dogs can produce their own type of smile in response to a human smile, known as “laughter contagion”.
While this isn’t necessarily an expression of happiness, it usually occurs when the dog is very relaxed with you – which is also good.
Indeed, several studies have shown that some breeds of dogs (including Dalmations and Staffies) can mimic human behavior in order to build great trust and connection with their human friends.
2. Face Shape
Another reason Staffies appear to smile is a less romantic one… it’s just the way they’re built.
Many dogs look like they’re smiling when they are panting, but with the wider mouth that Staffies have (especially Staffordshire Bull Terriers), it could just be put down to a coincidence that Staffies really look like they’re smiling with their big wide mouths.
Of course, if your Staffy (or any dog for that matter) has their mouth open and their tongue out for a long period, it could be because they are too hot. This is especially worthy of your attention if they are panting heavily, too.
While humans release most heat via sweat from their bodies, dogs typically don’t sweat through their skin. Instead, excess heat from a dog is mostly released via their mouth – and especially their tongue – so be sure to take care that your beloved pooch isn’t overheating.
4. Submissive Grin
But as well as the big open-mouthed tongue-out smile that is commonly associated with Staffies, these beautiful dogs can also appear to smile even when their mouth is closed with what is called a “submissive grin”.
If your Staffy has a submissive grin – great! This typically means they are relaxed and happy, while it can also be consciously used with other dogs or people to show that they mean no harm and are looking for companionship.
5. They Want Something!
As we mentioned earlier, Staffies are absolutely capable of mimicking human behavior.
Ironically, this means that they are also capable of trying to manipulate humans to get what they want. Staffies recognize that a smile is a positive action that is often reciprocated and so they may give you a big cheesy grin if you have something they want (such as yummy food!).
Whether you want to share your food with your Staffy is your business, but there’s no doubt that you can’t help but love a big Staffy smile!