Why Does My Dog Want To Lick My Ears?

Every dog owner has stories about their dogs’ weird and wonderful habits. Most of the time, it’s challenging to understand what’s really going on between those cute ears.

The reason why dogs lick your ears is a mystery. According to the experts in dog behaviour, this is a common question, they get asked numerous times. As you would expect, theories abound regarding what, to most people, seems like a pretty gross habit. The question is, why do dogs seem to be so fond of their owner’s ears, so much so, they have this pressing feeling to lick them.

Why Does Your Dog Lick Your Ears?

Even though dogs are known to enjoy ear licking, many people are baffled as to why they do it. It might even be a sign of how much affection the dog feels. 

Take my Cockapoo, Luna; she loves to jump on our bed in the morning, and whether I’m awake or not, she loves to lick my ears to make sure I’m awake and going to get out of bed. The weird thing is she never licks my wife’s ears, which might say more about the state of my ears for want of a better explanation for that particular behaviour.

Dogs with a more submissive personality seem to make ear licking a common form of communication.

Dogs Are Explorers

No matter how meticulously you clean your ears, your dog will still pick up on strange odors from them. As evidence for this notion, dogs use their sense of smell and taste more than any other sense. Your dog could learn a lot about you just by licking your ears, thanks to their heightened sensitivity. 

Dogs may find these odours and the bitter taste in ears canals highly enticing. Some dogs enjoy ear licking, whether it’s an instinctual need to help with grooming or simply because they’re bored. Some dogs have developed a liking for the ear wax that accumulates in the ear canal of human beings. I know, I know… it’s making me feel queasy while I write this.

Mutual Grooming 

A more fundamental aspect of licking can be traced back to when dogs had pack leaders. Dogs are pack animals. Close family members of a pack would often groom one another. Another one of their canine companions would lick the ears clean when grooming because it’s impossible for dogs to lick their own ears. Even today, many domesticated dogs still feel that compulsion to assist their owners by ear licking.

Comfort and Security

Dogs may be indicating their comfort with a family member by nuzzling, licking, or even having a crafty chew on an earlobe or two. Could it also be a way for your dog to communicate just how much they love you?

Dogs will only lick the ears of people they are familiar with and trust entirely. The act of your dog licking your ears is a sign that they trust and respect you, and you’ve gained your dog’s confidence. This behaviour is especially rewarding if you bring your dog home from a shelter. 

Should You Stop Your Dog Licking Ears?

If you’re happy to let your dog lick your ears, there’s no need to stop him. When your dog demonstrates affection by licking you, let him do so to make you both happy, if that’s really how you feel.

While some people are pretty happy to sit there while their dog licks away on an available ear, other owners haven’t quite worked out what the upside is having an earful of saliva. 

If you belong to the second group and prefer your dog not licking your ears, then when your dog seems like they’re getting ready for a good old lick, distract your dog with something else. You can even jump up and offer them a treat instead. 

If the dog licking your ears does annoy you, put a stop to it as soon as possible. Don’t let the behaviour continue because eventually, it will upset you, and you’ll end up getting angry with your dog; sadly, they won’t understand why. As soon as the behavior is interrupted, your dog will move on and is less likely to do it again in the future.

Obsessive Licking Is A Problem

There is a multitude of ways that dogs demonstrate obsessive licking. Either they’re going to be licking themselves (typically the paws), objects (such as your carpet or furniture), or you.

You will need to address obsessive licking because there is an underlying reason. Occasional ear licking is fine. Licking feels good to dogs, and they do it because it calms them down on some level. Overuse of this stress reliever is common in anxious, tense, and stressed dogs. If your dog behaves this way, you might need to visit a dog behaviourist to evaluate your dog. 

There can be several problems causing your dog to lick ears obsessively, and these include:

  • Allergies
  • Anxiety
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Pain
  • Boredom

It’s not too concerning when a dog is licking a lot, but if it starts to create skin problems or the dog is constantly licking one spot and begins to lose chunks of hair and fur, you’ll need to speak to your vet.

Final Thoughts

Letting your dog lick your ears is a personal choice; some dog owners love it while others dislike it. If you’re a dog owner who encourages dogs to lick their ears, just be mindful of letting them lick you on the mouth, eyes, and nose; it has been known for dogs to pass on bacterial infections, rare, I know, but it does happen.