Bared Teeth in Dogs: Aggression or Smiling?

Dogs are fascinating creatures and expressions of emotion can be difficult to read, especially when it comes to bared teeth. While your first instinct might be that a dog is showing aggression when it’s baring its teeth, you should consider other factors before making this assumption.

Is It Aggression?

Many people think a dog’s bared teeth are an aggressive warning sign, but this is not always the case. Your dog may bare their teeth when they’re happy, or when they’re playing. They can even bare their teeth if they are scared or stressed out by something in their environment. The next time you see your dog with his or her mouth open and teeth showing, consider why this may be happening before reacting to it as if he were being aggressive toward you or another person in your household.

Why Do Dogs Bare Their Teeth?

A dog’s teeth are important. They’re used to grab food, keep prey in place, and fight other dogs. As such, when a dog bares its teeth it’s usually sending a signal that it’s trying to communicate something: dominance, submission, fear or excitement (among other things).

How to Tell if Your Dog Is Showing Aggression or Not

You may be wondering how to tell whether your dog is showing aggression or not. There are several ways to do this, and it’s important for you to know these signs so that you can properly communicate with your dog.

The body language of a dog is the first thing to look at when trying to figure out if your pet is showing aggression. If they have their teeth bared and their tail between their legs, they’re displaying submission behavior; however, if they have their hackles raised (fur on its back) and they’re staring directly at a person/animal in threat display mode, there’s no mistaking them as being friendly anymore!

If you want to get even more specific about it though, here are some other things that may indicate whether or not your pooch is being aggressive:

Eyes: Most animals’ eyes appear wide open when they feel threatened by something nearby – like another animal or human being for example! On the other hand though…if those same eyes seem smaller than usual then chances are good that “something” isn’t feeling very threatened at all.”

Signs of Stress in Dogs

When a dog is stressed, it will have a stiff posture, with its ears back and tail down. It may also be doing things like avoiding you, hiding from you or growling at you. Some dogs show their stress by licking their lips or panting heavily before biting.

Some aggressive displays are not easy to distinguish from playful ones if you don’t know the dog well; for example, some play bows are accompanied by teeth-baring that looks very similar to the bared teeth seen in aggression.

Is It Playful?

If your dog shows his teeth when he’s playing, it could be a sign of aggression. But that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, quite often, dogs will show their teeth when they are excited or nervous. This can happen in any situation where your dog is playing with other dogs or people—or even while they’re trying to get your attention!

So how can you tell if your dog is showing signs of aggression? Let’s take a look at some possible scenarios:

  • If your dog has been taught “leave it” and he sees something on the floor but doesn’t want to drop it (a bone or toy), he may show his teeth as a warning for you not to approach him until he decides what he wants do do next.
  • If there’s something that has aroused his interest such as another animal or an interesting sound outside but he isn’t sure whether it’s safe yet so just wants more information before going over there himself then this might also cause him display similar behavior – though obviously if there’s no way back once gone forward then very wary indeed.”

How to Tell if Your Dog Is Playing or Not

A dog that is playing will be relaxed and happy. He will be wagging his tail, panting and yipping. If your dog is not relaxed, he may be stressed or fearful.

If you see these signs of play (relaxation, happiness, wagging tail), then the action is likely friendly and your dog has no intention to harm anyone.


In conclusion, while a bared-teeth face may be accompanied by aggressive behavior, it’s not the same thing as snarling or growling. It’s not just a sign of subordination in dogs, either. If you see your dog making this expression, and they’re happy and relaxed, then they might simply be trying to tell you something in their own special way!