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Why Do Dogs Lick You?

Dog licking owner's face

Dogs lick their owners in order to show affection, but there are many other reasons why a pooch can lick your hand, face, mouth or other parts of your body. Let’s see why do dogs lick you?

The Dog’s Tongue

Exactly like cats, dogs lick people using their tongues. The dog’s tongue, is a long versatile muscled organ attached to the back of the mouth by the hyoid bone.

The top of the tongue, is covered with five types of tiny mushroom shaped papillae, containing pores that lead to the taste buds. The other parts of the tongue consist of small bundles of muscle, fatty and connective tissues.

The tongue also contains a lot of blood vessels, and all around it, there are openings for the salivary glands.

A dog’s tongue, must perform many distinct complex functions, and for this reason, is fed by five different sets of nerves connected directly to the brain.

The main purpose of the tongue, is to bring food and water into the mouth, and to allow the dog to taste what he’s licking, tasting, eating or drinking.

A dog’s tongue, can detect the sensation of salt, sweet and sour tastes, so when it licks parts of your body, be sure that your dog feels any taste present on your skin.

Reasons Why Dogs Lick People

Depending on the area of the body they lick, dogs can feel and manifest different feelings.

Why do dogs lick our face?

Your dog wants to lick your face to display the love and affection it feels for you. This is an affiliative behavior, which certain animals carry out to strengthen the bond they have with other members in the group.

This is the reason why is so common for dogs to lick your face when you get home as a greeting. They are very happy to see you, so they want to welcome you in their own style.

Of course that there are other ways to welcome you which are less moist, however, your pooch likes to welcome you this way to show that he is happy to see you home and also the fact that he loves you.

Why do dog lick our mouth?

Usually puppies prefer to lick your mouth because they are hungry and want you to give them food. This is an instinctive behavior very common in puppies that are weaned and put on a diet that consists of mainly solid food instead of milk.

Puppies do the same with their mother when asking her to regurgitate some food for them.

Rottweiler licking little girl

Rottweiler licks a tiny girl’s face and mouth, image source: pixabay.com

However, adult dogs lick your mouth as an affection sign, but also to get your attention, or even to wake you up in the morning.

Dogs may also lick our mouths to calm us when they are stressed or overwhelmed and they are asking us to chill.

Another reason why your dog may choose to lick your mouth is because it feels uncomfortable. In this case, we need to find the cause of the stress, and to try to avoid it, especially if it’s done by us (a certain activity that we do).

Why do dogs lick our feet?

There are different reasons why a dog can lick your feet.

A common reason why a dog can lick your feet in most cases is related to the smell of your feet.

Sweaty feet seem to arouse special interest in dogs. Sweat expels salt on your feet, and dogs find it irresistible even if for us is completely unappealing.

A dog can also lick our feet to initiate play, or a way to investigate new smells on your feet.

Another reason why your pooch may lick your feet is to get your attention.

Why do dogs lick our hands?

Dogs can start licking our hands when they are curious. Dogs like to explore and learn everything new about the world they live in, so when they have the opportunity, they start licking our hands because this will tell them a lot about the places we visited during the day and the things we have touched.

When licking our hands, dogs can taste the evidence of our activities, and this way they can know a little more about our daily routine.

In other cases, dogs lick our hands to investigate a certain odor present on our skin or nails.

Why do dogs lick our ears?

The ears are one of the most sensitive parts of the body, so when a dog starts licking them, he can do this for several reasons.

The first reason can be related to our hygiene. Dog’s are used to lick each other’s ears as a hygiene measure, so they will try the same thing with our ears.

This doesn’t mean that your ears are dirty, it only means that your pooch tries to prevent a wax buildup in your ears. They have a very sensitive sense of smell, and this way they can feel the smell of excess wax in your ears even if you are not aware of it.

Another reason why your dog may lick your ears is represented by the fact that he likes the taste of your ear wax.

Don’t forget that our four-legged friends experience the world through their senses, and different smells or tastes can be very attractive to them. This is the reason why they prefer sweaty feet or the wax in our ears.

Are Dog Licks Really Kisses?

Giving the fact that dogs lick their owners to show affection, it is more than obvious, that by licking our face, mouth, ears or hands, dogs are trying to kiss us.

They start licking our face or hands right after we arrive home because they want to show us how happy they are seeing us, so they start kissing us (licking us) in order to show their feelings towards our person.

Should You Let Your Dog Lick You?

When a dog licks parts of your body, be sure that he will use his tongue and a lot of saliva in the process.

Dogs use their nose and tongue exactly like we use our hands because they don’t have hands, so they can grab something only if they use their mouth.

This means that a dog’s mouth is less clean compared to ours.

Girl dodging her dog's tongue

Girl dodging her dog’s tongue, image source: pixabay.com

The dog’s saliva and any pathogens that can sit on the tongue can be easily absorbed through the mucous membranes of your nose, mouth or eyes, and even if illnesses are rarely transmitted from dogs to humans, doctors advice that you shouldn’t let your dog lick your face, including the nose, mouth and the eyes.

The other parts of the body like the feet and hands is another story, because I suppose that you wash them properly several times per day (at least the hands), so if your pooch prefers to lick them, you have no reason to stop him.

Do Dogs Get Offended If You Don’t Let Them Lick You?

If you don’t like the fact that your pooch licks you, you don’t have to block him directly because he will quickly realize that you don’t accept his affection, which will make him sad.

To not offend him, you need to move your face slightly away from this mouth, but at the same time use your hands to hug him.

If you get in touch with your pooch daily, he will understand that you love him.
Even if you move your face away when he tries to lick you, your dog will not be offended if you keep physical contact with him all this time using your hands.


A dog prefers to lick you to show affection and the fact that he is happy to see you.

If you don’t like the fact that your pooch licks you, try to stop him only from licking your face.

Let him or her lick your hands or feet because this will not affect you at all, but will make it very happy.

Article written by:

Darius Savin is a lifelong animal lover and protector and the chief editor of Checkmember. He writes and edits articles and is also the creator of the distribution maps for all the creatures featured here.