The Sheltie Smile
Is the Sheltie smile real? Experts say yes - but it's not why we think. Discover the real reason behind the Shetland Sheepdog smile.
The Sheltie smile is an endearing trait - and it's not entirely unique to Shetland Sheepdogs.
But what's really going on? Are dogs happy or are we anthropomorphizing them?
What The Experts Say
Can dogs really smile? The experts say yes, but not for the reason we imagine. Apparently, wolves appear to smile to indicate submission to another wolf. Equally, dogs instinctively interpret this grin as sign of submission; telling them that this particular dog isn't a threat to them.
So it makes sense that confident, alpha dogs rarely smile - as they have no desire to show their submission to anyone. And since Shelties are usually gentle, submissive dogs, you're more likely to see them submit with a Sheltie smile.
The only exception to this rule is when dogs "laugh" with their upper teeth bared. This is not at all submissive, but is a sign of aggression. If you see a dog making this face (including dear sweet Shelties) than back off quick!
When The Sheltie Smile Becomes Real
If you think the Shetland Sheepdog smile has just lost its magic... think again. Because experts also concede that eventually a dog's laugh can actually become genuine over time, thanks to the phenomenon of classical conditioning.
Remember the famous experiment known as Pavlov's Dogs? Ivan Pavlov, the Russian psychologist, repeatedly rang a bell before giving dogs their dinner. Soon, the dogs began salivating when they heard the bell but there was no food present.
Like Pavlov's Dogs, to reinforce the Sheltie smile, you need to repeatedly reward the behavior: a belly rub, a dog treat, or a nice pat on the head. In this way, we're conditioning our dog's laugh by rewarding this cute behavior every time we see it.
Conditioning this kind of submissive behavior in your pet dog can only be a good thing. Your Sheltie must learn that you are the boss - it's their instinct to follow the leader - and it will lead to a much happier lifestyle all round when your dog is well behaved. So next time you see your Sheltie smile, give them a reward - everyone wins.
More Sheltie Smiles...
This is such a gorgeous Sheltie trait I decided to dedicate an excessive amount of pictures to it.
How To Photograph Your Dog
One of the reasons I made Sheltie Planet is because I have an abundance of Sheltie photos I wanted to share. I love taking pictures of Howard and Piper and being able to capture them in a way that frames that moment forever. Today I'd like to share some general pet photography tips based on what I've learnt using my digital point-and-shoot camera. I hope this helps you get the most out of your pet photography and creates some great images that you will treasure forever.
The Top 10 Most Intelligent Dog Breeds
Dogs can be smart in different ways: a breed with an acute and wellhoned ability to work will be quick to learn how to do its job. Other breeds may be so eager to please their people that they're attentive and highly trainable. But intelligence alone doesn't make a good pet. Owners need to be willing to put in the work to channel a dog's inherent intelligence - and a good owner will understand a dog's natural traits to bring out his natural smarts.