Gwydion Grins

Smiling Aussies

Nope, this is most definitely not a snarl! This is what is known as a "grin" (sometimes called a "submissive" grin, although I don't like that term). It's a trait that is somewhat common in various breeds. It seems to run in families, so there is probably a genetic component to it.

Gwydion grinning

I was "warned" that Gwydion grinned before I ever saw him (it's actually written into the info that came with his ARPH papers), because people who don't know what a grin looks like will often misinterpret it as a snarl. He doesn't always smile this big, sometimes it's just a flicker of his lip, and people do tend to think he just snarled at them if I haven't told them about it.

Some "experts" will tell you that the dog's teeth don't show in a grin - they are wrong!

So how do you tell the difference? If you don't know the dog, it can be tricky. You have to look at the whole dog, not just the teeth! Grinning dogs will have "softer" eyes. Instead of giving you a hard stare, their eyes are usually squinted shut (first pic), or open and relaxed (second and third pics). Their tail will be held low and wagging (a snarling dog will usually hold their tail upright, and it will be either still or moving very slowly). Grinning dogs have relaxed ears, while snarling dogs either have their ears upright and focused or pinned back. When Gwydion grins, he often turns his head sideways, and he "pops" his teeth (opens and closes his mouth quickly). Snarling dogs might growl, but grinning dogs never do. Gwydion vocalizes when he's really happy to see the person (I can't describe the noise, it's sort of "Whoo roo whroo" noise - I always tell him that dogs don't make that sound!) He snorts and sneezes sometimes too.

Gwydion grinning

I've been trying for years to get pics of Gwydion grinning, and never had any luck. Whenever we got the camera out, he would look embarrassed and stop. But then someone on the Aussie-L posted pictures of her "shy" grinner, and explained how she had gotten them. I tried the same thing, and it worked!

What we did was to set things up with the show photographer and a good friend that Gwydion always smiles for. Gwydion loves his Auntie Carolyn, so she stayed away until after I had talked to the show photographer and explained what we were after. I got him all ready, and then she came up to "say hi." The photographer was able to shoot several pics before Gwydion realized what was going on (in the last pic, you can see that he is looking at the camera instead of at Carolyn - I think that was the last one we got). Of those, 3 came out wonderful! (I'm SO grateful to Cedar Glen Photography for finally getting pics of my boy showing off his pearly whites.)

More Grinning Dogs

Gwydion grinning

If you have pictures of a grinning dog that you would like to share, let me know! Send an e-mail (with the picture!) to

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