Do Dogs Cry? Experts Explain Dog Tears


If you’ve ever looked into your dog’s eyes while they’re being reprimanded, after they’ve stepped on a sharp thorn or as they watch you leave for the day, then you don’t have to be an expert on dog behavior to know that dogs can certainly feel sad—and show it. A new study even suggests that dogs can shed happy tears when reunited with their owner. But … do dogs cry?

Your sweet pooch could suffer from dog depression or dog anxiety, and they certainly make noises that sound a lot like crying to us, particularly if we’re trying to train them not to sleep on our bed at night. We just had to find out if those heartbreaking puppy sounds mean that dogs can cry like humans, so we asked the experts.

Do dogs cry?

Dogs experience a range of emotions including happiness, frustration, love, boredom, joy, grief, loyalty and, yes, sadness, says Linda Simon, a licensed veterinarian and veterinary consultant for ThePets. “And they have ways of expressing each of those feelings,” she adds. However, crying probably isn’t one of those expressions of sadness.

The bottom line is that dogs do not express sadness the same way we do. “People love to ‘humanize’ our four-legged friends, but while it is fun to assume dogs think the way we do, that’s just not the case,” says veteran dog trainer and behaviorist Jen Jones, founder of Your Dog Advisor. “Dogs are less complicated than humans are, particularly when it comes to their emotions.” If you think you’re overthinking your dog’s feelings, know that this is what your dog is actually thinking about.

What makes dogs sad?

Dogs feel sad for many of the same reasons we do, like pain, loneliness, loss and grief, says Dr. Simon. While most doggy sadness is brief, sometimes they can experience very deep and long-lasting sadness. For instance, there have been verified accounts of bereaved dogs who have waited loyally by gravesites day in and day out, longing for their deceased owners to return. Remember, there are lots of ways pets say, “I love you.“

Those aren’t the only reasons, though. Another potential source of sadness is your dog’s compassion for you. When their human is sad, a dog will often express sadness as well, even if they don’t understand why you are upset, Jones says.

Dogs are more emotionally intelligent than we give them credit for, particularly when it comes to reading the feelings of their people—which is just one of the things your dog knows about you. “They are incredibly cued into our feelings, emotions, facial expressions and even our health,” Jones says. “So, while dogs can’t express sadness or think about it in the same complex way humans do, they certainly do understand and feel much more than we might realize.”

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