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Why Does My Dog Always Look Sad? 7 Real Reasons + 3 Tips

Why Does My Dog Always Look Sad

You give your dog a lot of love and attention but at the same time they look sad.

So, you start asking yourself what’s going on…

Look no further! Here you will find out:

  • A dangerous reason why your dog looks sad.
  • How you could be rewarding your dog for looking sad (without realizing it).
  • 3 essential and easily-implementable tips on how to make your dog happier.
  • And more…

Why does my dog always look sad?

Your dog always looks sad because that’s just how they look. This applies to Pugs, Bloodhounds, and other breeds that look perennially sad. Conversely, dogs look sad when they’re in pain or depressed. Other factors could be learned behavior or misinterpretation of your dog’s actions.

7 real reasons why your dog always looks sad

#1: They’re just relaxing

As a dog owner, sometimes you’ll make small mistakes. Such as assuming your dog is sad when they’re actually just resting.

No one can blame you. Particularly if your dog does the part of looking sad.

You know, lying down on their paws, their mouths closed. Only those puppy-dog eyes follow your movements. 

Sometimes their eyebrows move, making them look more pensive.

They just lie down like that, as if they lack the energy to follow you around.

And now you jump to the conclusion that he’s sad.

This is not necessarily the case. Because your dog might just be relaxing.

Note: Dogs would not lie down and be comfortable if they are scared or agitated.

Besides, what if they just have a resting sad face? Maybe it’s just the way their mouth, eyes or ears are positioned when they’re relaxed.

#2: You reward them for looking sad

You may not notice, but you are constantly under your dog’s surveillance. 

Your dog monitors your movements and studies your gestures. They take note of how you react to situations. 

And they look at your face more often. This could be their attempt to communicate with you.

This was what this research found out. The 24 family dogs used a sad facial expression when looking into a human’s eyes. 

In particular, they raised their eyebrows to make their eyes bigger. This expression made them more infant-like.

The study aimed to find out how they react to these 4 scenarios:

  1. A human facing the dog and holding a treat.
  2. A human facing the dog empty-handed.
  3. A human turned away from the dog and holding a treat.
  4. A human turned away from the dog empty-handed.

The results showed that dogs displayed a sad facial expression when the human gave them attention.

The researchers believed that dogs did this because humans have a preference for this facial expression.

#3: That’s just how they look

Droopy ears. Soulful eyes. Droopy lips and eyelids. An overall pensive demeanor.

You’ve probably seen this look many times. Could your dog be unhappy despite all your efforts of giving them a happy home?

Hang on a minute. This sad look could be in their genes.

Just so you know, selective breeding leads to dogs having desirable characteristics. 

You want the long-eared and flat-faced dog? Say no more.

And when these traits come together, it sometimes results in a dog with a perennially sad face.

I’m talking about: 

  • Pugs.
  • Beagles.
  • Bulldogs.
  • Bullmastiff.
  • Bloodhounds.
  • Basset Hound.
  • English Mastiff.
  • Chinese Shar Pei.
  • Neapolitan mastiff.
  • Dogue de Bordeaux.

Note: If your dog is one of these breeds, it can be difficult to know if they’re really sad. It’s not enough looking at their facial expression for clues. That’s why you have to look for other telling symptoms.

#4: They look sad based on your own interpretation

Sometimes, it’s your interpretation that gets in the way.

As I previously mentioned in #3, a dog looks sad because their droopy eyes and saggy skin make them look like that.

Or they lie around with their head on their paws. But you end up thinking they’re sad anyway.

In addition, a dog’s certain actions make you think they’re sad. If they look at you intently –  without being exuberant or excited – you might think they’re upset.

But the real reason could be that they want something from you. Or they’re listening to your voice.

Interestingly, guilt will also make you misinterpret your dog. 

For instance, you have a very busy weekend driving the kids to their practice. Or running errands here and there.

And then you notice your dog by themselves on the sofa. You go, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry, Buster’ because you’re guilty of not spending more time with them. 

And it makes you think they’re sad because you have ignored them.

#5: It’s a learned behavior

Dogs are sometimes sneaky. 

They know that when they appear sad, Mommy and Daddy start showering them with attention (just like I’ve mentioned in #2).

Now Buster knows that when they look the part, they could get more attention from you. 

Or maybe some treats every now and then.

Note: They will resort to this behavior if they want extra attention.

#6: They are in pain

Too bad Buster can’t tell his human that his stomach is aching.

Thus, it’s up to humans to be observant of their pets. The dog’s sad facial expression is a start. Then look at other symptoms.

Check for instances of lethargy, crying in pain, or hiding away from you. In some cases, they whine or lick their feet excessively. 

If it’s too painful to move, they would camp out in a corner. They would look at their human, as though asking for help. 

That’s precisely what happened with my previous dog Ejy… One day I just found his sitting on his hind legs, with an arched back, looking under the weather…

And not only that, when I attempted to pet him, as I’d usually do, he’d squeak and move away… He’d also walk uncomfortably, with his tail tucked between his legs…

That got me wondering what’s going on and I immediately headed to Ejy’s V.I.P, a.k.a Ejy’s vet. Turned out, Ejy needed to have his anal glands expressed. So, we fixed it. 

But if I hadn’t paid attention to all the signs, the problem would’ve gotten worse… So, it’s my duty as a dog parent to tell you – look at the big picture.

Don’t get too worried if you see your dog is looking sad. But do look at any additional cues to that expression that might signal a problem.

That being said, you should know that some dogs ‘star-gaze’ or ‘fly nap’ when in pain, as shown in this research

Dogs with gastro-intestinal pain usually do stargazing. They do this by raising their head and staring at the ceiling or sky.

Past researches into this behavior believed that star-gazing was a manifestation of the pain.

Aside from that, dogs exhibit fly snapping. This is also called fly biting or jaw snapping. It’s when dogs appear to see something that humans don’t and snap at it.

Previous studies about this behavior found out that there was an underlying medical condition.

#7: They are feeling blue

Like humans, dogs go through a sad period in their lives.

They look sad and become withdrawn. If this isn’t resolved immediately, it can escalate to depression.

When your dog is feeling blue, the challenge lies in finding out why. Several factors can be responsible for their sadness:

  • A new pet.
  • A new baby.
  • A new spouse.
  • Moving into a new place.
  • Someone leaving or dying.
  • A change in your schedule.
  • A canine companion dying.
  • A change in the dog’s routine.

How do you know if they’re going through depression? Here are some of the symptoms:

  • Lethargy.’
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Labored breathing.
  • Hiding from you or everyone.
  • Excessive licking of their feet.
  • Lack of interest in play or walks.
  • Lack of interest in people and canine friends.

3 tips to make your dog happy

#1: Take them to the vet


Under the circumstances, taking your dog to the vet is the best choice.

One, to rule out any physical problems. Two, to start treatment right away if the dog needs it.

#2: Do not reinforce undesired behaviors

I know sometimes it’s easy to give in to those sad-looking, puppy eyes.

But sometimes dogs use it to get their way. 

Caution: Remember that dogs are smart. If they like what they get from looking sad, they’ll do it as a reinforcing behavior.

It’s more difficult to fix if the behavior has long been reinforced. To avoid reaching that situation, curb it before it gets worse.

#3: Bring them out of their depression

If your beloved pooch is depressed, find out why. That’s the first step toward finding ways to bring back their happiness.

You may consider sticking to a routine. Some dogs find comfort in routines as these make them feel safe and secure.

In addition, give them plenty of exercise, toys, and games.