My Dog Licks my Other Dog’s Face (3 reasons why)

This blog post will try to examine why some dogs have a habit of licking the faces of other dogs. It will also answer whether or not dog licking is a sign of dominance, what the negative repercussions are of dog licking, and what are the favorite spots in the face that dogs love to lick. 

My Dog Licks my Other Dog’s Face 

Because we are humans, it is nearly impossible for us to explain the absolute and definite meanings of why dogs lick, at all. Does this mean they want to be fed? Does this have something to do about dominance and superiority? Does this imply that something is wrong with the licked dog’s face? 

We cannot answer definitely why dogs lick, unless of course, we are dogs. But thanks to major innovations in veterinary science, we can trim down the possible meanings of why some dogs lick other dogs. 

But even with the possible meanings trimmed down to a shortlist, we still cannot tell for sure what dog licking means. What we do know is this is absolutely the cutest! We surely love to see dogs playing with each other in our social media news feeds. 

We will try to look at possible explanations of why some dogs have a habit of licking the faces of other dogs. 

Why does my dog lick my other dog’s face? 

When dogs lick the face of another dog, this is a behavior we can trace during when the dogs were still puppies. A puppy’s display of licking signals their desire to be fed. In other words, when a puppy licks other dogs, this means that they are just hungry and want their master to give them food. 

These dynamics change when the puppies grow up to be adults. When adult dogs lick other dogs, this may be construed as a sign of respect. 

Wild dog puppies lick their mother’s lips after the mother dog goes on a hunt and when her belly is full of predigested meat. The puppies licking just want the mother dog to feed them and share to them the spoils of the hunt. 

Licking for hunger is not the only reason why puppies have this behavior. They also lick when they are excited, in servile manner, or when they are attempting to curry their mother’s favor. This triggers the appropriate visceral response from mama dog who now proceeds to deliver the goods to the puppies. 

When the puppies have grown up to digest solid food, the licking behavior now means that they defer to a highly esteemed peer and licking them signals their utter respect. 

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

A dog licking another dog’s ears is a natural greeting for dogs. During the olden times of the canine world, they would establish their presence among their companions and let the others know that they were present in a pack reunion by licking each other’s ears. Today, although dog packs are not as common as it used to before, dogs are still genetically pack animals so they will continue to lick each other’s ears until forever. This behavior is hardwired into their brains. 

Dog licking in the ears is also construed as a grooming favor. To reach the ears with a tongue is impossible. The ears are inaccessible zones so when dogs lick another dog’s ears, this can also mean that that dog is trying to freshen up that area of the other dog. 

Dog ear wax is also loved by dogs. To sniff and lick another dog’s ears is tantamount to satisfying their craving for dog ear wax. Dogs love stuff that smell bad. The stinkier something is, the better the chance they will sniff it and lick it. 

Is it something to worry about when a dog licks another dog’s face? 

Absolutely not! When your dog licks another dog, this only means that it is friendly and is showing affection or deference to the other dog. This is not a bad thing and does not mean any harm. In fact, this is a cute gesture. 

Why do puppies lick their mother’s face? 

When puppies lick their mama dog’s face, this usually means that they are hungry and want their mama dog to feed them. In the wild, when mama dog returns from a hunt and has a belly full of meat, the lick of the puppies essentially is a call for the mother to regurgitate some of the pre-digested food to the hungry puppies. 

In the case of domesticated puppies, the meaning is nowhere far. When a puppy licks, this means the same as “please take care of me”. 

When an adult dog licks another adult dog, is this a sign of respect? 

Yes, it can be a sign of subordination. It can mean the same as “You are in charge and I do not want to mess around with you.”

This is a sign of deference, especially if the dog doing the licking approaches the other dog from under the chin. 

If the licked dog licks back at the dog doing the licking, this means that things are well between both of them and it accepts the deference and submission of the other dog. 

In the case of wild dogs, subordinate pack members lick the more dominant pack members to show their deference. This behavior maintains harmony among the pack. 

Can dog licking be construed as playfulness? 

Yes! Your dog may lick another dog’s face to show that it is ready to play. In fact, it can do this to dogs that it has only met for the first time. This means that it likes the new dogs and wants them to be friends itself. In other words, dog licking can also say “I want to play with you and be friends with you!”. More about this is written by Allegra Ringo’s article in The Dog People. 


This blog post examined why some dogs have a habit of licking the faces of other dogs. It also answered whether or not dog licking is a sign of dominance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): My Dog Licks my Other Dog’s Face

Is dog licking a sign of dominance? 

It can be! When a dog licks another dog, this is a deliberate act of respect for the licked dog. This means that it defers and submits to the other dog. 

Can dogs sense when other dogs are sick? 

Yes! They are able to sniff out illness in humans and dogs, and maybe other animals. They have an incredible sense of smell that, for example, if the other dog has a tumor, the dog may sniff around that area all the time and may even lick that area of the other dog. 

What does it mean when a dog licks you? 

Dogs lick people to show affection, a greeting, or simply to get our attention and feed it with food. 

Is a submissive dog bad? 

This is perfectly normal but if the dog is overly submissive and fearful, you will want it to exert its dominance a little so you can ask your vet about how you can do this. 

How do I know if my dog is trying to dominate me? 

Most dogs are neutral and submissive toward other people but some dogs can try to show their dominance by staring, barking, growling, snapping, or even biting these people, especially when you give it a command or ask him to give up a toy, a treat, or a resting place. 


  1. Ringo, Allegra. “My Dog Wants to French Kiss Your Dog: Why Dogs Lick Other Dogs’ Faces.” The Dog People by, 6 July 2018,
  2. Wag! “Why Dogs Lick Other Dogs Ears – Wag!” WagWalking, Wag!, 7 Feb. 2018,
  3. Kane, Gary. “Why Does One Dog Lick Another’s Muzzle?” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 22 Jan. 2018, a dog licks the,belly full of predigested meat.
  4. “What Do Dog Kisses Mean: Holiday Barn.” Holiday Barn Pet Resorts, 10 Jan. 2020,
  5. Wag! “Can Dogs Smell Illness in Other Dogs? – Wag!” WagWalking, Wag!, 4 May 2018,
  6. Cutolo, Morgan. “What Does It Mean When a Dog Licks You?” Reader’s Digest, Reader’s Digest, 20 Sept. 2019,
  7. Wag! “Why Do Dogs Show Submissive Behavior – Wag!” WagWalking, Wag!, 1 Mar. 2018,

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