Why Does My Dog Lick My Face?

Over and over again dog parents are told by friends and family that we shouldn’t be letting our dogs lick our face. Some people think it is gross, unnecessary and even going to far.  That is why it is such a controversial topic that comes up often.  When the conversation does come up, it makes me wonder why does my lick my face and why do I let him?

why does my dog lick my face

*This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Please see my disclosure.

What Is the reason I let him lick my face.  Is it my need to smother my dog in constant love and kisses.   I go so overboard, that my dog then does his part to reciprocate the affection.

Well let’s look at some main reasons that dogs lick your face.

Love

The first and most common reason that your dog will lick your face is for love or affection.  Dogs are very emotional and feeling creatures, so they can sense people’s emotions.  They respond to your emotions by licking your face as a way of showing you they feel you.

Puppies are taught early on from their mothers, that being licked is a sign of nurture and care.  It also helps them create that bond with their mother and with their siblings.  Litter mates often lick each other, which they learn from their mother. Puppies that do experience lots maternal love from their mother, will have a positive effect on them when they are older. They are a more resilient dogs and at times less reactive to stress.

So if your dog licks your face, it is a way of them strengthening the bond between you as member of their family.

Although many of us dog parents enjoy the love licks, there are some that are least enthusiastic about it.  This licking is the #1 type of licking that dog parents wish they could change in their dog.

Dog face licking

Communication

If you have been following my posts, you will remember that in my post about why your dog paws you, I said that dogs will exhibit this behaviour as a way of communicating with you. Well licking is a similar type behaviour to the pawing.  It can mean many meanings.

Your dog could be trying to tell you they are:

  • Hungry
  • Saying I respect you
  • Gathering information about you
  • To get your attention that something is wrong

A dog may also lick your face simply because you are communicating to them that your are under stress.  In their minds if they lick you, it will help reduce that stress.  So basically you are talking to each other through actions and emotions that are part of your family bond.

Oops what’s on my face

The most obvious and funny reasons for a dog to lick our faces is there is something on it.  Yup, that simple.

Many times when we are eating, we may have something on our face and not even realize it.  Maybe it’s a piece of food, or drink that has been left behind.  Right away your dog uses his amazing nose and sniffs it out and dives in for the quick lick for the crumb.

If it is not a piece of food, maybe you just put some nice face cream on your face. Plenty of dogs love to lick any type of lotion on your body, and your face is no exception.  I am guessing it smells good is smooth and soft.  But I just can’t imagine that it tastes good, so this one has me baffled.

They can also lick your face simply because you are sweating.   Of course as we know, sweat tastes salty, so your dog may lick to get that salt off your face.  I guess it’s easier than a napkin!  HAHA!

The other thing that you could have on your face is a cut or wound.  Dogs are notorious for being able to sense or sniff out an injury.  They may even lick your wounds as a way of trying to heal you.   There is even some evidence that it could help if they clean the wound.  No matter the science says , in my experince dogs do tend to lick an injury.

FINNEGAN was my dog for over 11 years and one of his many nicknames was “Dr. Finnegan”.   He was that dog, that could find a cut on you in seconds.  A few shorts licks on the cut and you were good to go.  It truly was the cutest thing.  But that is just me.

Compulsive

Any time your dog exhibits behaviour that is considered compulsive is a behaviour we don’t want.  Compulsive licking can be a real issue in many dogs.  Now the reason for our dogs to behave this way can be various.

Sometimes it can be a sign of teeth or mouth issues that your dog is experiencing.

Our dog BOO was the worst for the compulsive face licking.   Now in his case, 2 separate times in his life, he did have teeth issues that needed surgery.  After the surgery, the face licking of course was much better, because he was feeling better.  Unfortunately his compulsion to lick your face never completely disappeared.

Now the tough part with compulsive face licking, is sometimes it can be a sign of a real problem with your dog.   People always assume that it is just a silly thing that has no real meaning, so because of that, the signs your dog is sending you get missed.

Things like high stress, anxiety and even your dog acting scared are some things your dog could be experiencing.  So for this reason, it is important to monitor your dogs behaviour for other indications that your dog is unhealthy.  When you suspect something is up with your dog,  I always recommend taking your dog to the Vet.

 

6 thoughts on “Why Does My Dog Lick My Face?”

  1. Wow! This is another piece of information generally and one that I value a lot. Knowing how to communicate with our dogs is a really good thing. It helps us to be more fond of them and builds better relationship. I never knew that licking of face means anything more than love before. This is really great and interesting to read that they can use that to communicate too. Wow! Thank you

    Reply
    • Hi Ella,

      You are welcome and thank you for your comments.

      I think it is important information to remember to try to understand our dogs behaviour and that they may be telling us something.  Communication is also a great tool to make sure that we have a solid bond with our dog.

      They are our partners in everyday life, and give us so much to love.  I would never want my dog to be suffering in silence. 

      I am glad that you found some valuable information in my post. Thank you for being a part of it.  Take care

      Coralie

      Reply
  2. Hello Coralie,

    My dog and I have some really weird means of communicating and one of them she does once in a while is licking my face and that’s when she is apologizing.

    When she does something wrong and I don’t show her as much attention as i use to. She finds a way to lick my face as that is the “ultimate” apology she would give most time aside the crying looks. 

    Reply
    • Hi Benson,

      Haha I love that she is softening the blow, but sucking up right away.  The kiss is so cute at that point you almost forget that they have done something wrong.  They are not stupid.

      Thank you for sharing your wonderful and funny story about you and your dog.  I love to hear other dog parents journey with their dogs. Take care.

      Coralie 

      Reply
  3. Informative article you have there!

    It is always curious of the habit of dogs, sometimes I find it irritating.   Now I understand that the dog is expressing a lot of things than I could possibly understand! It could just be an act of love or an expression of pain!  All I need to do is understand my dog!

    Thanks so much for this information.

    Reply
    • Hello,

      I am so glad that you found that my post has some good information for you.  My goal is to do anything I can to pass along to assist dog parents with their pups.  Dogs are truly expressive creatures and almost always their actions or behaviours mean something.

      Thank you so much for taking part in my post and for sharing your thoughts. Take care.

      Coralie

      Reply

Leave a Comment

Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
Pinterest
Instagram