Why do dogs lick your face? 4 reasons explained

Doggies have a unique way of communicating with their owners, they use body language in order to ‘talk’ to their humans. If you have caught yourself wondering “why do dogs lick your face?”, we are here to help!

One of your dog’s ways of communicating is licking, especially licking your face!

We are sure that many pet owners are well accustomed to doggie face kisses. Your dog is likely to give you a big lick or two, especially to your face, whilst welcoming you home, during cuddles, or after playtime! There are many reasons for this loving behaviour, such as affection, grooming, or respect. Read on to learn more about these puppy kisses!

Why do dogs lick your face?

To signal hunger

The habit of licking faces is rooted deep in doggie behaviour. As puppies grow up, they move from drinking milk to eating pre-digested food, before moving on to solid food. Puppies lick their mother’s faces to prompt them to regurgitate pre-digested food for them to eat (sounds rather unpalatable to us, doesn’t it!).

This signalling of hunger has now evolved, and dogs are likely to lick their owner’s face when they want a snack or two!

To show respect

Dogs lick other dogs’ faces to show their submission. This behaviour originated from wolves, where the pack members would lick their leader’s face to communicate respect and to demonstrate their submission.

Dogs are innate pack animals, and so, when your pupper licks your cheeks, nose, or mouth, he might be showing you that he knows that you’re the boss – even though he might pretend that he doesn’t every now and again!

In addition to showing respect, dogs will lick stranger dogs or people’s faces in order to try and win them over from the start! By doing this, a dog is trying to appease the stranger so that they do not do anything harmful to them.

To help clean you up

Dogs will lick both themselves and each other as an act of grooming. Your pooch sees you as part of their ‘pack’ and will take on the task of keeping you clean and comforted by giving you lots of doggie licks, some of which will land on your face!

Discover: Puppy Socialisation: 7 Simple Steps to Doing it the Pawfect Way

To show you lots of ‘licking’ love

The bottom line is that your dog loves you to bits and pieces (we know that the feeling is mutual). As dogs can’t show their love the same way as you (through lots of cute talk and cuddles), they will offer up their licks as a sign of affection.

Dogs learn to show affection from their mama, as mommy dogs lick their litter to comfort them and strengthen their family bonds. So, instead of pushing your pooch away when he tries to give you a big, wet kiss, rather give him an extra cuddle to reciprocate his love.

Are doggie kisses a health risk and should you put a stop to this behaviour?

We are sure that all dog owners are well-accustomed to their pet’s wet, loving licks, and whilst you know that these kisses are coming from a good place, you may not be a huge fan of them! Dogs are known to eat some unsavoury things, and therefore, you might be hesitant to let your pup lick your face.

We are here to tell you that puppy licks are in fact safe for you, provided both you and your fur baby are healthy. Dog saliva is not a threat to the health of intact, healthy skin and if your dog gets preventative care from the vet and receives regular dewormers, you are likely to be just fine!

It is important that you do not let your dog lick open wounds, as dog saliva is full of bacteria and will lead to your wound becoming infected.

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While licks from your four-legged friend are often not a danger to your health, you might not like receiving pooch kisses that leave your skin smelling like doggie breath (and let’s be honest, doggie breath can be quite smelly!). Your dog is unlikely to stop licking your face without proper training.

Now that you know the ins and outs of why your precious paw pal likes to give your face a big lick, you can react in the best way to this loving gesture.

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