Why Do Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Smile? Not What You Think…

The Chessie smile is too popular for anyone not to hear about it; One of our favorite things about Chesapeake Bay retrievers is that some of them can smile. Not every Chesapeake Bay retriever smiles. If you didn’t know any better, you may misinterpret this subservient behavior as an aggressive proclivity. 

Why do Chesapeake Bay retrievers smile? Chesapeake Bay retrievers smile mainly to show submission to their humans, but Chesapeake bay retrievers can also smile to show joy such as when they are having a good time or when they are having fun.

To know why Chesapeake Bay Retrievers smile, what is the Chessie smile, and how to understand your Chesapeake Bay Retriever’s facial expressions, keep reading this article.

Why do Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Smile? 

smiling dog to show why do chesapeake bay retrievers smile

Chesapeake Bay retrievers are masters at watching and interpreting human behavior; it’s what they do. They notice the positive of the activity when we humans react, laugh, provide incentives, pat, and smile.

Chesapeake bay retrievers quickly learn that grinning is a positive reaction to their activities and will do so when they open their mouths and drawback their lips, allowing their tongues to lick over their teeth.

Chesapeake bay retrievers appear to smile more pronouncedly than other Chesapeake bay retrievers, making them simpler to detect.

Chesapeake bay retrievers will show their enthusiasm by wagging their tails and standing erect  Even if their mouth is open wide, their tongue will twitch somewhat, even if it is not flapping out. Their ears will most likely perk up, and their nostrils will most likely flex a little.

Their brows will furrow, and they will fix their attention on you. As you can see, their pupils will be dilated as well. Every sensory organ will be engaged and responding in the same way that humans do.

Smiling is a technique that can help us improve our relationships with our Chesapeake Bay retrievers. In their natural environment, Chesapeake bay retrievers employ adaptive smiling behaviors as a social skill and a display of emotion.

Do Chesapeake Bay Retrievers actually smile? 

I know you’ve noticed your Chesapeake bay retriever’s upward tilt of lips and assumed they’re smiling at you; well, they are, but here’s the reality behind the “Chessie grins.”

When Chesapeake bay retrievers are involved in activities they enjoy, such as playing or running, their wide, panting lips can be translated into grins.

The Chesapeake Bay retriever version of a grin is a bouncing body, a loose tail wag, and a facial expression with soft eyes and relaxed lips and ears.

Chesapeake bay retrievers normally display their happiness in a variety of ways, but a smile like ours isn’t usually one of them.

Chesapeake bay retrievers grin when they are relaxed and happy, which is why people misinterpret it as a smile.

When this “Chesapeake bay retriever grin” appears in response to a human smile, it is known as “laughing contagion”.

Chesapeake Bay retrievers are great observers and social learners, and a profound connection to their owners might lead to their mimicking their behaviors in rare circumstances. To put it another way, Chesapeake bay retrievers may appear to be smiling because humans grin at them.

You will find more about this laughing contagion and dogs’ laughs in general in the recommended section at the end of the article. You can also learn about why do Labradors smile here, and why do Golden Retrievers smile here.

What is the Chessie smile? 

The Chessie smile is a sign of joy, not of aggression.

Smiling is not a breed-specific feature, however, it does appear to be more frequent in some breeds than others, especially Chesapeake. And it appears to run in families. Although the toothy smile may be unsettling to people unfamiliar with dog body language, it is undeniably harmless and obedient.

A hostile or scared dog may expose its teeth in warning, but a smiler with stiff upright stance, erect ears, hackles up, and wide, gazing eye exposing whites, sometimes known as whale eye, has an entirely different appearance.

Cupped or curled back ears and squinty happy-looking eyes will characterize the smiling dog. The dog’s body becomes low and wiggly instead of standing straight at attention. It’s simply so bizarrely ridiculous that you can’t help but laugh at the dog, which makes it smile even more.

How to understand your Chesapeake Bay Retriever’s facial expressions 

That deep look

Eye contact between dogs indicates aggressiveness. Eye contact is an important element of human communication. Dogs have learned to utilize their gaze to gain praise from and express affection for their owners.

Making eye contact and then breaking it

Breaking eye contact is a part of eye-to-eye communication. Dogs look at one other until one of them breaks the stare, at which point a battle may ensue. It is in no way a sign of impending difficulty with people. Rather, it denotes a positive relationship between a dog and his owner.

blinking or squinting while making eye contact

If a dog blinks while making eye contact, he or she may be thinking about what you’re thinking, especially if you’ve just issued a command.

Squinting or blinking a lot

Squinting and blinking repeatedly might indicate pain or sickness. Stress or panic might be indicated by rapid blinking. When a dog looks at another dog with his eyes wide open, it might be an indication of hostility.


It’s a sign of attentiveness and attention when your dog lifts one or both eyebrows while making eye contact.

Eye contact is avoided if possible.

If your dog avoids eye contact, he or she is probably having trust difficulties. Eye contact with humans is understood by dogs as a sign of trust and comfort. A dog who avoids making eye contact with humans is attempting to avoid any type of interaction, pleasant or bad.

Tilting the head

It indicates that your dog is inquisitive.

Lowering of the head

It’s an act of deference when your dog lowers or bows his head while staring up at you.

Ear Flattening

It is possible that ear flattening is an indication of aggressiveness or fear. It might also be an indication that your dog has an ear infection.

Grinning or smirking

It’s a sign of enthusiasm when a dog raises his lips to reveal his canine teeth and incisors. A doggy grin can also indicate submissiveness, although this is generally reserved for other canines, not people.


Depending on the circumstances, a dog licking his lips might be conveying a willingness to submit to his master or an indication of worry. Consider it a good form of doggy communication if nothing is causing worry at the present.

Wrinkling of the nose

Your dog, on the other hand, is enraged when he pushes his lips up vertically to show his front teeth while simultaneously wrinkling his muzzle—especially when he lifts his ears and looks attentively.

Before you go, you may want to get to know Chesapeake bay retrievers a bit more by learning when should Chessies be neutered here and how much do Chessies bark here.

Related Questions 

What is the Chessie smile? 

The Chessie smile is when a Chesapeake bay retriever raises his lips to display his canine teeth and incisors, it’s a sign of enthusiasm, not aggression. It might also be seen as a gesture of submission.

How often should you wash a Chesapeake Bay Retriever?

You should wash a Chesapeake Bay Retriever once every two months, when not swimming often. bathing should be done with a gentle shampoo and done seldom no more than every 2-3 months. Overbathing can cause dry skin in a Chesapeake.

Do Chesapeake Bay retrievers need haircuts?

Chesapeake Bay retrievers don’t need haircuts; Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are low-maintenance canines that require little upkeep. To maintain a Chessie’s coat in good form, all it takes is a weekly brushing.

Helpful Resources 

Why do Golden retrievers smile

Why do Labradors Smile

Male vs Female Chesapeake bay retriever

Are Dogs Smiling At Us?

Dogs and humans respond to emotionally competent stimuli by producing different facial actions

Living with a Retriever: Recommendations and Sources

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Hey there, I'm Matt, the author behind Retrievershub.com. With a deep love for dogs and a dedication to strengthening the bond between owners and their retrievers, I've created a hub of resources for enthusiasts like you. Through engaging articles, training guides, and product reviews, I aim to provide practical advice that makes a real difference in your life as a dog owner. Whether you're a seasoned pro or new to the world of retrievers, my approachable and informative writing style ensures that you'll find valuable insights. Join me on this incredible journey of discovering what makes retrievers tick, unlocking their potential, and creating an unbreakable bond with your furry companion. Let's embark on an adventure of dog ownership together. Thank you for visiting Retrievershub.com and being part of our vibrant community.

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