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Why Do Dogs Yawn?

The Dog Yawn: What Does it Mean?

Have you ever seen a dog yawn? His eyes squeeze shut, his ears fold back, and his mouth opens so wide that you can count every tooth. This natural response can happen many times a day, hundreds or even thousands of times in your dog’s life. Sleepy, anxious, or even just bored, your dog is bound to yawn at some point if you watch carefully.

Lots of animals, including humans, yawn. The earliest yawn for people often occurs 11 weeks after conception – that’s before the baby is even born. But why do dogs yawn? Well, to be honest, we don’t really know. In fact, we don’t know why **we** yawn, although several studies have investigated the question. Here are some of the most popular theories on this sleepy canine behavior.

Theories About Why Dogs Yawn

Are Dog Yawns Contagious?

Recent studies have shown that the yawn can be contagious. Scientists have discovered that some species including humans, chimpanzees, Australian budgerigars, and dogs can feel the urge to yawn after watching or sometimes even hearing a yawn. In fact, one study showed that 54% of dogs will yawn when their owners do.

There are several theories of why this is so; it may be a way for humans show empathy, for one. Another is that the behavior can have an effect on dominance or group structure. Whatever the cause, the behavior is a fascinating one.

One More Theory on the Dog Yawn

Just as “a kiss is still a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh,” a yawn may be… well, just a yawn. At the end of the day, scientists still don’t have a good answer for why yawns happen. It may just be that a giant yawn and stretch feels good – and that’s something that humans and dogs can almost certainly agree on!