Why Do Dogs Lick Each Other?

If you’ve ever wondered why myself and other dogs take it upon ourselves to lick our canine friends whilst out on our walkies or in the home, then I, Sir Henry the pug will be taking you through all the reasons why you might witness us licking each other.

Social Ranking

One of the reasons why we might lick another dog’s face is to show subordination to a dog we’ve never met before or also a dog who is of a higher social ranking than us.

As a small little pug, this is often a common occurrence for me and I’ll end up licking almost any pooch I come across on my travels in the hopes they’ll accept me and come to a mutual understanding.

When the higher ranking dog (which is often the big boys) licks back it signifies they have respected my submission and we can now begin to build a friendship.


When we’ve found a good companion out on our walkies and we’re feeling playful then we like to lick their muzzles to show that we want to play with them.

You’ll often notice us with our bums in the air and our front paws firmly on the ground around this time as well, a key sign that we’re in the mood for a play fight or a game of chase.


Sometimes we lick other dogs to show that we care for them and it releases those feel-good endorphins for both us and our pal that we may be slobbering up.

Licking out of affection occurs with close friends or dogs we can trust and creates a close bond between us.

I cannot simply wait to head out on my walkies every day and see my best friend Tilly on our favorite field and give her muzzle a good lick.


When I was a small pup and I still lived with all my siblings, we used to lick each other for grooming as our mother couldn’t get round to doing us all every day.

Grooming creates emotional bonds between siblings and helps build a trust that can never be broken, even when we’re moved miles apart from each other.

However, grooming is not just limited to those from our litter, it also happens with anyone with whom we have an excellent rapport or another animal in the household we are close with.

My humans also have a cat called Monty, who despite being a cat, I still regard as my brother and we get on well.

Monty’s always up to no good in the outside world, often getting into scraps with other felines and comes back looking disheveled. So to help him out, I spend some time licking him to groom him so he doesn’t look like a stray and we spend that time catching up on his adventures.

Puppies & Mothers

When I was really small living with all my siblings, our mother used to groom us by licking to make sure we were all looking presentable and we didn’t have any hairs out of place. She’d often just give us a lick to show us affection and tell us that she loves us throughout the day.

When we’re puppies, we’re unable to go to the bathroom ourselves as we don’t know how to do it, so mothers help us out by licking nether regions to encourage us to do our business.

Puppies in the wild will lick their mother’s faces, mainly around their muzzle when she has come back from a hunt to signify that they’re ready for food. The mother will then bring up the already digested food that she caught for her pups to eat – sounds disgusting but that’s how it works in the wild.

As domesticated dogs, we still perform this ritual in the hopes our mother will take care of us and present us with some food – hopefully in the form of kibble and not regurgitated mush though.

Is a dog licking a sign of dominance?

Dog licking is a sign of submission or deference to a more dominant dog who they’ve met.

Staring, barking, or even biting is a sign of dominance in a dog and it can sometimes just be a front until the dog they’ve met has submitted to them.

As a pug, I find myself being the submissive one in a new encounter as I barely come up to most other dog’s knees.

Why does my dog lick my other dog’s eyes and ears?

This may not be something to worry about at all, as it could simply just be your dog showing affection towards your other dog and just means they’re comfortable enough around them to help groom them and show them some love.

However, we dogs do have excellent noses which even gives us the ability to sniff out infections or even tumors.

If we’re relentlessly licking another dog’s eye or ear then they could be suffering from an infection and you might want to take them to the humans with cold hands (I think you call them vets?).

Are dog licks real kisses?

We generally lick humans to show affection and will lick almost everyone we come across as long as we’re feeling the right vibe from them.

When we notice that people are stressed or upset, we lick them to cheer them up as it also releases endorphins for us.

Don’t be alarmed by this, but we do like this taste of your skin and will often just lick to satisfy our salty cravings, this is also why we love to steal your socks.

Why do dogs put their paws on you?

We love it when you give us belly rubs and stroke us all over, however, we cannot return the favor, so instead, we place our paws on your arms or legs to show affection and to be close to you.

Do dogs like being hugged?

In general, no we don’t like being hugged, it makes us feel overwhelmed and you’ll often notice us going stiff when you do hug us as we’re a bit stressed out.

Belly rubs are more than adequate to show us you love us.