Why Do Dogs Lick Faces?

February 15, 2021

Why do dogs lick faces?At my house, it’s hard to avoid wet sloppy dog kisses from our family dog. Clearly, licking is something most dogs do instinctually. Dogs cannot communicate with words and use other ways to communicate with us. So what are they saying and why are they licking our faces?  Here are 4 reasons your dog licks your face:

Why do Dogs Lick Faces?

Have you wondered why do dogs lick people's faces? Most of us clean our faces. Is it possible we've left some food on it and they are trying to get it off? Probably not. If you have wondered why do dogs lick peoples faces, we've found a variety of reasons. Here are the top 4!

1. Sign of affection

This behavior from your dog was learned early on. As puppies, your dog remembers being licked by their moms and their brothers and sisters. It’s a family bond, a sign of affection, soothing and love. Your dog is trying to tell you how important you are to them.

2.    Showing respect

Dogs are pack animals and just like wolves, they respect those they love the most. There is an established social order in your household, with you as your dog’s pack leader. You have probably noticed if you walk your dog, they will not lick other dogs. This important form of communication is only reserved for those they love and respect.

3.    Tastes Good & Grooming

Of course dogs are very much food-driven, and the idea of getting a taste of salty sweat or skin is always good for your beloved fur-baby. At my house, after our outdoor jogs together, I get on the floor for sit-ups. My dog always thought this was a great opportunity to lick my sweaty face. My dog also knows I need to clean up, so she’s helping me in her own way. 

4.    Information

How often have you been ill, lying in bed asleep and your dog jumps up and starts licking you? This is because your dog knows something is wrong and is trying to get information on what it is. If you are feeling down, they know a good snuggle will cheer you right up. What I love most about my dog is if someone in the house is sick, she’s right there lying beside them to cheer them up.

Are doggie kisses safe?

Now we know why they kiss us, the next logical question: is it safe? Most of us value the mental and emotional benefits which come from the bond we have with our dog. And because we love them, we end up with our beloved dogs kissing our faces.

However some say to be safe, try to not have your dog lick inside your mouth.  We know; it just happens. You start talking and get tackled by the dog, and she starts licking and you laugh and there it is: tongue in your mouth. Thankfully, at my house, I’ve had no health problems due to dog kisses.

According to a USA Today article, bacteria live in your dog’s mouth which doesn’t affect them. There is a chance it could affect people with a weakened immune system and may even make them ill. This article says there isn’t enough information to be conclusive, but it's always good to be cautious.

Hopefully, this answers the age-old question: why do dogs like to lick faces? 

I know for me, I’ll gladly keep getting my doggie kisses!


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