Do Labradors smile? How do I know if they are happy?

Coming home from work and finding your new labrador just at the door, wagging his tail and spreading his lips upward just like a smile! This made my day and I felt like all my tiredness has flown away. But soon after his gesture changed, he stopped smiling and went to his couch, seeming somewhat hurt. I wondered why he does that while he was just smiling the moment I came into the home. This made me think do labradors really smile or I just felt it? Also, why my lab just sat on the couch, giving some “sad” signals? How do I know whether my labrador is happy with me? I called a friend who had owned Labradors for long. What he told me was surprising and exciting.

I found out that:

Yes, Labradors really smile. They give a happy gesture by curling their lips upwards. Not only this, Labradors give many “love signals” that you might be missing. Labradors give happy gestures through the movements of their bodies. You have to observe keenly so that you can also give a happy gesture to make the bond between you and your lab ever stronger.

Want to know more? Just read below for a clear picture of your happy lab and how to respond to it.

Do Labradors smile?

Yes, Labradors smile. Not only with their mouth but also with their eyes. They spread their lips upwards and their eyes become round and sparkling. Isn’t it overwhelming?

Labrador retrievers are very social. They tend to be around people all the time. They don’t need any spare time for themselves and hate to be alone. Now that they live with humans all the time, they do copy their owner’s expressions to please them.

It’s thought that maybe Labradors have adapted this smile habit from humans by carefully noting the movements. Also, Labradors are conscious that smiling is a happy signal which should be given when you feel really joyful. That’s why don’t ignore your smiling lab. It’s an adorable way to catch your attention!

Do Labradors smile? (Video)

Why Labradors smile?

Labradors smile to please you and tell you that they need you.

Chances are that they want to play with, need some treat or just want your attention.

Labradors smile just the way similar to we humans. Obviously it’s not that same but the reasons are more or less the same. We also smile when we’re happy or when we want to please someone.

So, next time your lab smiles at you, don’t ignore this gesture and reply with some soft gesture to make him happier. This happy dog will be forever yours by seeing how you love him back.

Your lab has not smiled yet? Are you wondering if it’s not happy with you? Don’t worry. Labradors not only smile but also give other gestures from their body movements to tell you that they are happy and they need you.

So, if your lab isn’t smiling then read below and know what are the other indications of a happy dog.

How do I know my labrador is happy?

Below are all the happy movements your lab will use to be your favorite pet.

Tail movements:

If your labrador’s tail is upwards and wagging to make lose and big loops then it’s happy. This happy wagging is slow and steady.

Along with this wagging tail, the body would be relaxed and posture would be straight.

Wagging tail shows that your dog is happy, active, and energetic. It really wants to play with you.

Facial expressions:

You’ll find your labrador’s face just relaxed with mouth slightly open. The closed mouth shows that your lab isn’t happy at that moment.

If your lab is sitting calmly with a slightly open mouth and tongue coming out from the corner then it’s happy and contented at that time.

Whereas if you see your lab opening mouth way too wide or shutting its mouth tight then it’s a matter of concern. Your labrador is in an aggressive or sad mood or he is afraid of something. Take notice of this and make him comfortable and happy with the meal, treats, and lots of playing.


As discussed, labradors smile with their lips and eyes and tell you that they’re happy. They need you at that moment.

Either they want to play or just seek your attention.

Ear movements:

Labrador’s ears are drooping downwards from the top naturally. The degree of drooping depends on the type of breed.

If your lab is moving his ears and making them straight then it’s a happy dog. Moving ears with joy are accompanied with a smile. Sometimes, just moving ears and bright eyes will tell you that they’re happy.

Lying on its back:

The tummy of a dog is a very sensitive area without much fur on it. When your dog lays on its back in front of you then he trusts you a lot.

Your lab is for sure happy with you when he lays on his back. He really feels naughty and wants to play with you at that time.

Give your dog some playtime in this position daily. He will love it when you’ll scratch him gently on his tummy.

The body held lose:

When your labrador is happy, it will just leave his body to lose. You will find no stiffness.

Lose body with wagging tail shows your lab is happy and wants your attention. Your lab may also lay down and loosen its muscles, showing that he is contented and happy.

Whereas the stiff body is not a good sign. Take notice of it and observe your dog’s needs. Your lab might be sick as well. So, don’t ignore this gesture.

Eye contact and expressions:

Dogs make eye contact. Labradors see you an make direct eye contact when they’re happy and want your immediate attention.

You have to observe closely the shape of the eyes and how much they’re opened. If the eyes are round and wide open with the pupil dilated (less white area of the eyes exposed) then your labrador is surely happy. Not only happy but it’s showing this gesture to get your love at that moment.

Contrarily, if the eyes are wide open with the white area of eyes exposed a lot, pupil contracted and body stiff then your lab is scared. And if eyes are squinted or your lab is seeing you from the side of his eyes when he’s not having a good day and is annoyed.

So, eye expressions do tell a lot about your dog’s behavior.


It’s gross for some but Labradors show their love by licking their owners.

You can always train your lab not to lick you or anybody else as some guests also get annoyed if a dog licks them with their wet tongues.

Training the dog about how to show his happiness or live from an early age is a way to get rid of some habits which might annoy you or anybody else in the future.

Sitting beside you:

If your lab is happy and wants to spend time with you, it will just sit or lay beside you.

It will also show love by looking at you and seeking your attention.

Following you all the time:

Some owners get annoyed but happy dogs follow their owners all around the house.

So, if you’re doing house chores and your pup is following you all the time then know that it’s happy with you and want to be with you all the time.

How to respond to the labrador’s happy gestures?

Now that you know when your lab is happy, you have to respond positively to build a great relationship with your pet. It’s healthy to respond happily so that your dog knows that it’s pleasing you.

Here are some of the ways you can show your happiness to your labrador.

Give it a pat:

Whenever your labrador comes to you and wags his tail, gives smiley expressions, and makes eye contact then what you can do immediately to give a positive signal is to give a pat.

Patting shows your lab that you are happy with him and this encourages him.

Rub its head and ears:

When your lab makes that cute face with round eyes and smiley expressions then rub the top of your dog’s head and back of his ears.

Rubbing soothes him and he feels you love him back.

Treat is what he deserves:

Always give your lab a treat when he shows these lovely gestures of happiness.

Treat makes him feel special, reduces aggressive behavior and encourages positive behavior.

Smile back:

Whenever your dog is smiling, make and eye contact and smile back.

Smiling sends positive vibes and help to bond with your dog even more.

Play with your lab:

When your dog needs your attention, it gives you some positive signals. Note these signals and see what your dog wants.

If your labrador is wagging its tail and jumping then it’s time to play. Spare a few minutes and play with him. You can go for labrador toys or a tennis ball and stick also works.

Offer meal:

If your dog is beside you all the time then give him some food. Maybe he is hungry.

Ignoring him, in this case, can result in aggressiveness. So, to avoid this behavior, give your labrador proper meal to fulfill his hunger. He’ll love you even more.

These positive gestures also show that your dog’s health is great and he is growing at an optimum pace. Proper growth, development, and long life require a happy labrador who is getting positive signals from his owner as well. Ignoring its happy mood on a continuous basis can affect him in the long run.

The Bottom line:

Labradors feel emotions and they express them in their own ways. To know if your labrador is happy with what you are doing as an owner, just observe its body language which says it all.

The simplest and most observable signal is your Labradors smile. Yes, a labrador smiles when he is happy. This smiling is accompanied with wide eyes filled with joy and happiness.

Other than that the gestures which show that your lab is happy are wagging tail, slightly open mouth, wide eyes with dilated pupil, body relaxed and not stiff. You can figure out its sadness or any other negative gesture when he shuts his mouth tight and makes his body stiff.

Labradors show positive expressions more as they are very social and happy dogs. Encourage them by patting, giving them treats, and playing with them. You won’t regret this time spent with your pup ever!


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