Why Do Golden Retrievers Smile?

Why Do Golden Retrievers Smile?

People tend to believe Golden Retrievers are a happy breed because of their calm disposition, high energy and ability to smile. Golden Retrievers are more expressive with their feelings and facial expressions than some other dogs.

If you own a Golden Retriever or have ever interacted with one, you’ve probably seen their heartwarming smiles. Dogs and other animals often use facial expressions to express their feelings, and one example is the Golden Retriever smile.

Do Golden Retrievers Really Smile?

Golden Retrievers don’t smile in the sense that humans do — it’s common for us to assign human characteristics to pets because they are like family. Although the perceived “smile” may actually be because your pet is happy and full of energy, there are also other causes for your dog’s smile.

How to Read Your Golden Retriever’s Smiles and Expressions

Reading your dog's expressions will help you get to know their feelings and care for them accordingly based on what they need or want. Here are some possible reasons why your Golden Retriever is showing their trademark smile.


Dogs pant to cool themselves down since they can’t sweat. Golden Retrievers are energetic and typically enjoy exercising and playing fetch. This means they often pant to cool down from all their physical activity.

The smiley facial expression Golden Retrievers make from panting is often paired with their tongue hanging out. Although panting is completely normal for any dog during or after physical activity, there may be other reasons for panting. Some causes include your dog feeling hot, being in pain, having an allergic reaction or experiencing illness or medication side effects. You know your pet best and can recognize how they usually breathe, so if you notice they are panting too hard or irregularly, it’s best to contact your veterinarian.

Aggressive Smile

Most dogs will display an aggressive smile if they feel threatened. This expression is your dog’s way of showing its teeth and displaying aggression to protect itself. Golden Retrievers are not known to be aggressive, and they usually have a very calm and gentle disposition.

However, Golden Retrievers may show their teeth in an aggressive “smile” and pin their ears back to tell you to give them space. This action may be accompanied by growling.

Submissive Smile

Your Golden Retriever's submissive smile shows they do not want to seem threatening. When submissive, your Golden won’t make eye contact. They may also look at you quickly and then look away. Your Golden Retriever does this to show their obedience or tell a more dominant dog they don’t want to challenge them.

Get to Know Your New Pup's Habits With Golden Meadows Retrievers

As you know now, Golden Retrievers do really smile! Just not in the same way as humans. This doesn’t mean a Golden Retriever smiling isn’t friendly — it’s just good to know the difference between the happy, submissive smile and their aggressive, threatened one.

If you're interested in Goldens but don't yet have one, Golden Meadows Retrievers provides adoption and training services for Golden Retriever puppies and mature dogs. Contact us today to learn more about our resources!

Why Do Golden Retrievers Smile?