Do Dogs’ Heads Get Warm When They Are Happy? Why?

Many dog owners have wondered whether their canine companions’ heads get warm when they are happy. As dogs are unable to express their feelings through words, humans must rely on bodily cues to interpret their emotions.

One such cue, which may be indicative of happiness or other emotions, is the temperature of their heads. This article aims to explore the possible connection between a dog’s head temperature and its emotional state.

Dogs possess a complex range of emotions, and their body language can communicate these feelings to their human counterparts.

A dog’s body temperature is influenced by various factors, including their environment, physical activity, and emotional state.

By observing and measuring these changes, one can make educated assumptions about a dog’s emotional state at any given time.

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the scientific aspects of a dog’s head temperature in relation to their emotional state. We will also discuss how to accurately detect warmth in your dog’s head and share expert opinions on whether this sensation is truly an indication of happiness in our furry friends.

Dog Head Temperatures

Normal Temperature Range

Dogs, like humans, have a normal temperature range within which their bodies function optimally. The average body temperature for a healthy dog ranges between 101°F and 102.5°F (38.3°C to 39.2°C), with variations depending on the breed, size, and individual factors.

Factors Influencing Temperature

Several factors can affect a dog’s head temperature, including emotion, physical activity, and external conditions.


When a dog is happy or excited, it’s possible for their head temperature to increase slightly. This can be attributed to the release of adrenaline, a hormone that increases blood flow and raises body temperature. However, this temperature increase would likely be minimal and may not be easily detectable without specialized equipment.

Physical Activity

Physical activity has a more significant impact on a dog’s head temperature. As a dog exercises, their body generates heat, causing their temperature to rise. This is especially true for dogs with thick fur or those participating in vigorous activities such as running or playing fetch. In these cases, the dog’s head may feel warmer to the touch.

External Conditions

Environmental factors, such as ambient temperature and humidity, can also play a role in influencing a dog’s head temperature.

In hot weather, a dog may feel warm to the touch, even if they are not exerting themselves physically. Conversely, cold weather conditions may cause a dog’s head to feel cooler than usual.

In summary, a dog’s head temperature can be influenced by several factors, including emotions like happiness, physical activity, and external conditions.

While a happy dog might experience a slight increase in head temperature, this change would likely be minimal and more significantly impacted by physical activity and environmental factors.

Dog Has a Fever

If your dog’s head is hot, you may need to take their temperature. You’ll need to use a rectal thermometer. Keep in mind, that humans and dogs do not run at the same temperature.

Dogs will feel hotter since they run at 101-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If your dog’s head is warm and they have a fever, you may want to contact or take your dog to the vet.

Do Warm Heads Indicate Happiness?

Findings from Research

Several studies have explored the potential link between a dog’s head temperature and their emotional state. Research has shown that a dog’s head may indeed become warm when they are happy or excited. One possible explanation for this is the increase in blood flow to the dog’s head as a result of their positive emotional state.

In a study conducted by scientists from the University of Toronto, researchers found that when dogs were shown positive stimuli, such as their favorite toy or a treat, they displayed an increase in head temperature. This suggests that there may be a connection between happiness and increased head warmth in dogs.

Alternate Explanations

While the aforementioned research suggests a link between a dog’s happiness and their head temperature, it is essential to consider alternate explanations. For instance, a dog’s head could also become warm due to physical exertion from play, exercise, or a general increase in body temperature.

Additionally, environmental factors can impact a dog’s head temperature. If a dog is in a warm environment, their head may become warmer regardless of their emotional state. It is also essential to note that an increase in head temperature can be indicative of stress, anxiety, or other negative emotions.

To summarize, while research suggests a possible link between happiness and warmer head temperatures in dogs, other factors may also contribute to the observed increase in head temperature. More research is needed to establish a definite connection between a dog’s emotional state and their head temperature.

Dog Emotions and Expressions


Dogs express their happiness in various ways. When a dog is happy, its body language will show signs such as a wagging tail, relaxed ears, and a playful demeanor. A dog may also exhibit happiness by engaging in playful behaviors, like running around, jumping, and even barking with excitement. Additionally, a happy dog often has bright, alert eyes and may slightly raise its head.

Other Emotions

Dogs also experience a range of other emotions. Here are a few examples:

  • Fear: When a dog feels scared or threatened, it may cower, hold its tail between its legs, and exhibit wide, fearful eyes. They might also shake or whine, which serves as an indicator of their emotional state.
  • Anxiety: An anxious dog may pace around, pant heavily, or engage in repetitive behaviors, such as licking or nibbling on itself. Avoidance of eye contact and being excessively clingy are other signs of anxiety in dogs.
  • Anger: An angry or aggressive dog may display a rigid body, tense facial expressions, and bared teeth. Growling and snarling might also occur.
  • Sadness: Though it’s hard to determine if a dog experiences sadness in the same way humans do, they can exhibit signs similar to depression, such as lethargy, loss of interest in activities, and changes in appetite or sleep habits.
  • Dog is Stressed: There are many reasons why your dog may be feeling stressed. It could be due to changes in their environment, fear of unfamiliar objects or people, or even an illness or medical condition.

In summary, a dog’s emotional state can be detected through its body language and behaviors. While it’s unclear if a dog’s head gets warm when they are happy, other visible signs provide indicators of its feelings. Always pay attention to a dog’s expressions and actions to gauge its emotions and respond accordingly.

Signs of a Happy Dog

Dogs head is hot

Body Language

A happy dog typically displays relaxed body language, such as a wagging tail, relaxed ears, and a slight curve to their body. Their eyes will be bright and attentive, and their mouth may be slightly open with the tongue visible. They may also approach people and other animals in a friendly manner, with a wiggly body, and sometimes a “play bow” posture, where the front legs are stretched out and the rear end is up in the air.


Happy dogs may make various vocalizations, such as gentle whines, happy barks, or even contented sighs. Some dogs may also “talk” by making soft growling or grumbling sounds in a playful manner. These vocalizations are different from those of an anxious or fearful dog, which may include high-pitched whines or barks with a more urgent tone.


When a dog is happy, they will often engage in activities they enjoy, such as playing with toys, chasing after a ball, or exploring their surroundings. T

hey may also seek physical contact with their owner or other dogs, like leaning against them, nuzzling, or playfully wrestling. Their energy levels may be high, but not overly so, as they move through their environment with confidence and ease.

It is essential to understand that each dog is an individual, and their signs of happiness may vary slightly based on their personality and breed. Observing your dog’s unique signs of happiness can help you ensure they are content and well-adjusted.