Why Do Dogs Show Their Teeth?- 6 Reasons

 You might have noticed that sometimes your dog bare his teeth when you are petting him and you weren’t sure if he was smiling or showing discontentment. Dogs unlike humans cannot express themselves through talking, they can only do that through body language. It would be wrong if you’re your dog shows a sign and you cannot tell what he really meant. As a caring dog parent, you will have to research why dogs show their teeth.

Dogs show their teeth when they are being submissive, as a show of friendliness, or when playing. They might also bare their teeth when they are being aggressive, evading a threat or because their previous owners trained them to do so( mostly for rescue dogs).

Why Do Dogs Show Their Teeth?6 Reasons

Submissive Grin

A dog will occasionally show his teeth without any violent intent. Lip licking, an averted look, a relaxed body posture, and ears laying flatter against the head are all common non-threatening body language. The gentle grin is an appeasing gesture used to defuse tense situations. The submissive grin can signify tension and nervousness in some dogs, so it’s vital to keep an eye on them regardless of how long they’ve been doing it.

To Show Friendliness

Our dogs will occasionally show their teeth to express friendship to humans or other dogs.

It will be easy to discern if they are aggressively showing their teeth to other dogs based on their body language.  

As A Way Of Playing

Animals Figure Fun Dogs Nature Teeth

This is a common time for dogs to expose their teeth, whether it’s during playtime with you or other dogs.

As a form of play, dogs may sometimes wrestle and softly bite at each other’s ears. The presence of calm body posture, relaxing ears, and no snarling are all signals that your dog is indeed playing. When our dogs are threatened, they emit specific energy that differs from when they are friendly.


Aggression might be triggered by a variety of circumstances in this case. If a dog or person approaches them while on a leash, they may show their teeth.

Aggression is their natural territorial spirit and defense mechanism. In a room with many dogs, leashes are usually recommended because you never know how your dog will behave.

When dogs are approached during feeding time, they are likely to show their teeth. This is a normal and fundamental impulse that they use to protect their resources.

Kids and other dogs should be kept off your dog’s dining area. Another cause that may contribute to aggressive tooth-showing behaviors in your canine is pain.

Our dogs, like humans in pain, may become confused, angry, and fearful. This can lead to increased sensitivity, which can lead to aggression, and should be assessed by a veterinarian.

Training From Previous Owner

Do you let strangers see your dog’s teeth? Perhaps he was taught to do so. The majority of rescue dogs have been severely abused or neglected.

Some dog owners breed their dogs to be hostile toward strangers in order to make them better guard dogs.  

Evading A Threat

When dogs are afraid for their safety, they will bare their teeth to send a message stating to other dogs to leave them alone. Do you have a frightening demeanor when you approach him?

Instead of approaching him from above, kneel down to his level. Never rush towards him; instead, take it slowly and carefully.

How to Differentiate Between A Friendly Grin and An Aggressive Grin

There are 2 primary causes for dogs to show their teeth. The less known is the submissive grin that dogs frequently display.

Lip licking, eye staring intently, and relaxed body posture are all examples of these actions. Their tails are usually loose and their ears are floppier.

This grin is frequently displayed by our dogs during playfulness or to indicate goodwill toward their owners. This isn’t a cause for concern, and it can be a very friendly way for your dog to smile.

When dogs are aggressive, they will frequently display their teeth along with other behaviors. Growling or barking are examples of these vocalizations.

Dogs frequently snarl and drool as well. Rigid ears and an upright tail swinging back and forth are two body language signals of hostility in dogs.

Keep in mind that our dogs are territorial animals. After all, dogs are animals, so it’s always a good idea to be cautious when a dog shows its teeth if you’re not sure what he is trying to say.


Understanding your dog’s body language is crucial as a dog parent. There are many reasons why a dog shows his teeth like aggression, submission among others. Before you conclude that your dog is showing his teeth because of a specific reason, it is advisable to look for other body signs like if the ears are erect, if his body is relaxed, and if he is wagging the tail.