Funny, Furry Friends: Can Dogs Laugh (And More)?
Dogs are man’s best friend and we know so much about them. We can tell how they like to be pet, what their favorite treats are, and what toys are the most fun based on how they react.
Some aspects about our pups, however, can feel like a mystery. One question we may not know the answer to is whether or not our dogs can laugh, and not only that, but do they also have a sense of humor?
Do Dogs Have a Sense of Humor?
While maybe not the most pressing question about our four-legged friends, it’s definitely a fun one to wonder about. It turns out that there are some dog breeds that are considered more playful and in turn may have more of a sense of humor than others.
In Stanley Coren’s article “Do Dogs Have a Sense of Humor?,” he references two animal behaviorists whose research helped narrow down which dogs may appreciate a good joke the most. Dr. Benjamin Hart and Lynnette Hart ranked 56 dog breeds on their willingness to chase toys and engage in games. They then sorted them into the following groups:
- Most Playful
- Above Average Playfulness
- Average Playfulness
- Below Average Playfulness
- Least Playful
It should come as no surprise that they found more playful breeds included Irish Setters, Golden Retrievers, and fun-loving Miniature Poodles. These types of dogs are more likely to have a sense of humor when they play, even going so far as playing pranks on both humans and other pups.
Dogs like Basset Hounds, Bulldogs, and Chihuahuas seem to be some of the least playful breeds. Now, this doesn’t mean these breeds are unhappy. It simply means these dogs tend to be less willing to show a humorous side, and instead prefer to curl up on the couch and take a snooze rather than chase a ball or play keep away.
Do Dogs Laugh?
Another question you may have about your furry best friend is whether they can laugh. When the two of you are playing a rough and tumble game of tug of war, are they able to laugh along with you? It turns out that it may be possible for dogs to laugh, though not in the way that we as humans think of laughing. Instead, a dog’s laugh sounds more like a pant than what we consider a typical human laugh.
Patricia Simonet at Sierra Nevada College conducted extensive research to answer the question, can dogs laugh? She found that there was a noticeable frequency difference in the sound of regular dog panting and what she classified as laughter. She and her team also found that when they played the laughing sound in animal shelters, it seemed to calm down the dogs.
Next time your dog is seemingly having a good time, listen for something that sounds slightly different than their usual panting noise. Simonet described it as more of a “hhuh-hhuh” sounds accompanied by an open mouth and a floppy tongue.
Do Dogs Smile?
If dogs have a sense of humor and can even laugh, does that mean they can smile too? It feels natural to assume smiling goes hand-in-hand with laughing and having a good time.
It turns out that the answer is yes, dogs can smile! Veterinary behavior specialist Dr. Lore Haug told USA Today that dogs not only smile, but also do it specifically for us,
“It is essentially an appeasement greeting behavior that seems to be directed only at people,” Haug says. “Dogs don’t do this true smiling behavior to other dogs.”
What does that mean? Essentially, dogs smile to show active submission, or rather, that they are happy and don’t want to be perceived as a threat. If you catch your dog smiling, know they are having a good time!
Help Keep Your Dog Laughing, Smiling, and Happy
Just like people, all our dogs are different. Some may have bigger personalities or a greater sense of humor while others prefer to quietly cuddle up with you and sleep the day away. Some may laugh and smile during play or when they’re enjoying themselves, while others might show that they’re having fun in their own unique way. It’s important to observe your pup and see what makes them the happiest. After all, that's all we want for our four-legged friends!
For more helpful information and tips that can help keep your dog happy, join Bil-Jac's Best Friends Club! Members receive exclusive email updates, informative articles, and members-only discounts on Bil-Jac dog food, treats, and other products.