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What Does Your Dog’s Side-Eye (AKA Whale Eye) Really Mean?

Skeptic Border Collie dog with side eye or whale eye

The dog side eye is one of the cutest glances made by our canine friend. If your dog behaves in this way, it can appear as if it is criticizing you or that it is simply bored with what you want it to do. 

This body language, though, isn’t something you should be worried about. It is only a natural reaction of dogs to anything they don’t like. However, that does not imply that we should encourage them to do it.

Knowing that your dog is comfortable is far preferable to having it have a whale eye that makes it look adorable. To learn more about the dog’s eye, keep reading because this guide will make it more detailed and interesting!

What Does Dog Side-Eye Actually Mean?

Close up of Beagle dog side eye

The dog side-eye, commonly known as whale eye or half-moon eye, is a term used to describe a dog’s body language related to the dog’s eyes. This is when the sclera or the whites of the dog’s eye become more prominent. It is often associated with a lack of understanding or a feeling of threat.

It is most likely to appear on either the inner corner or outer side of the eye, depending on which way the dog’s eyes move. In most cases, whale eyes are seen when a dog is in some sort of pain or worry. 

However, some dog breeds naturally have slightly protruding eyes, which occasionally allows the whites of their eyes to be seen.

On these dogs, the quantity of visible sclera is typically less dramatic than on other dogs exhibiting side-eye.

Thus, to correctly understand a dog’s eye expression, you must pay attention to the dog’s entire body language. 

If you want to know what a dog’s side-eye looks like, watch this video of a Boxer dog showing the side-eye expression:

Boxer Dog Gives Some Serious Side Eye

Why Do Dogs Show Side-Eye?

The most common reason for a dog’s side-eye is either a lack of understanding of what is going on or a sense of threat. A dog acts in this manner to signal its owners that it might be anxious or uncomfortable. 

In these circumstances, it is likely that there may be facial ridges and muscle tension that cause the eyes to expand further. Dogs’ eyes appear slightly squinted or almond-shaped when they are at ease.

Another reason why a dog may also show side eyes is when it is trying to avert its gaze. The dog will tilt its head slightly away from anything that might worry it, but it will also try to keep an eye on the thing of concern.

This modest head tilts while keeping an eye on things causing the whites of the eyes to become evident.

What to Do If Your Dog Shows Whale Eye?

Portrait of a Siberian Husky dog showing whale eye

To begin with, you must first find out whether your dog is giving you the whale eye or is merely looking to the side. If you are certain it’s a whale eye, it is probably best to give your dog some space. 

In this case, refrain from comforting your dog in any way because doing so can make things worse. Instead, leave your dog alone for a few minutes. 

Then, divert the dog’s attention to something else to reduce the stress. For instance, if the whale eye is directed at a child, tell the child to stop what they’re doing, remove the dog, wait for it to calm down, and then give it some treats.

Finally, you should also learn what you can do in the future to prevent stress, fear, or discomfort in your dog’s life. This will, in turn, prevent them from showing the side-eye.

When dog owners get better at understanding dogs’ body language, they can respond effectively in any situation, and their relationships with dogs will also improve.

How to Know If It’s Actually Whale Eye

Contrary to popular opinion, a dog may not always give you the whale eye when it feels threatened or uncomfortable. Whale eyes are occasionally just a dog’s natural way of keeping a closer eye on their surroundings. 

That said, the next time your pooch gives you the whale eye, pay attention to its body language and overall environment as well.

If you notice your dog is tense, it’s actually a whale eye. But if it’s relaxed and its gaze is soft, then your dog is probably just trying to take in all the sights and sounds around it.

In case you’re still unsure, here are some good indicators that will tell you if your dog is showing whales eyes or not

  • Your dog’s muscles are tense.
  • Your dog’s ears are sticking out to the side and pointing backward. 
  • Your dog’s mouth is closed. 
  • Your dog may sometimes flick its tongue or lick its lips. 
  • Your dog is not looking at you. 

By paying close attention to this body language, we can learn more about what our dogs are attempting to communicate. We may know when they are relaxed and carefree or when they are going through something.

Where Does the Side Eye Dog Meme Come From? 

Cute French Bulldog dog with funny costume side eyeing

The first side eye meme came from a photograph of a Dachshund with squinting eyes and a suspicious expression looking sideways at the camera. 

This image was originally posted to Reddit by user gooddboyy on April 23, 2015, and over the next few years, it gained popularity as a reaction picture. 

In the post, the Redditor captioned, “A ride in the car, huh? Are you sure it’s not a ride in the car… to the vet”? This received 600 votes and was immediately posted on Imgur, Nairaland, and other forums and popular sites. 

Recently, this meme has even become popular on Instagram and Tiktok, where it has amassed over 80,000 likes in nine months and over 83,000 views in 10 months, respectively, since it was first shared. 

9 Pictures of Dogs Giving Some Cute Side Eye 

The side eye of a dog does not always indicate that it is in danger of biting. Sometimes, it might just be a dog displaying its total cuteness, which is what dogs are primarily known for. 

Here are some images of adorable dogs that have mastered the side eye:

Dogs are not criminals, but I can steal your heart.

Is the floor too low or am I just small?

I can hear something behind the ground.

Why are you looking at me? I’m not doing anything wrong yet.

Why should I get the ball, exactly? You threw it; now go get it.

Check out my new collar. I know it’s pretty on me.

Can I get a bigger, better cup of ice cream?

Dog lying on the floor with cute side eyes
Photo by @banjobubs (IG)

Exercise? I thought you called me for large fries.

I can’t leave my bed. I was accepted by the blanket as one of their own, and if I leave, they won’t trust me again.

Frequently Asked Questions

Australian Shepherd puppy with mischievous look and side eye

Do All Dogs Give Side-Eye?

All dogs may give side eyes as a reaction to a certain situation. However, this body language may be challenging to detect for dogs with eye problems.

For example, dogs with cherry eyes may expose the inner layer of their eyes and may eventually cover half of their eyes, which makes it impossible to see a side eye or a half-moon eye.

What Are Moon Eyes in Dogs?

Moon eyes in dogs are more popular with the term whale eyes or side-eye. This is a form of body language that conveys discomfort or, occasionally, meaninglessness. 

The moon eye becomes visible when a dog looks sideways, making more of its whites exposed and a half or a portion of its pupil hidden. This movement results in the formation of either a half moon or a crescent moon. 

How Do You Know If a Dog Is Annoyed?

Your dog’s body language is the best indicator if it is annoyed with you. When your dog suddenly stops what it is doing or starts acting differently while it is with you, it is obvious that your dog is annoyed. 

Other signs that your dog is annoyed include tightening its lips, lowering its head, or closing its mouth. It may also lay its ears flat, tuck its tail, or simply walk away from you.

Final Thoughts

Dogs primarily communicate with their owners through body language. And in the event that one would feel threatened or uneasy, a dog’s side eye is a useful warning sign that it might bite if it isn’t given some space.

But occasionally, a whale eye might actually imply nothing. In order to grasp what your dog is trying to convey to you, it would always be beneficial to understand the entire situation.

After reading this guide, you should now have a better knowledge of what a dog side is and what to do about it. Now, it’s time for you to share. Submit a comment below and let us know what you think of a dog looking to the side!