Dogs do the weirdest stuff.
They dig through the trash. Eat dirt. And to top it off…
Lick other dogs’ ears like there’s hidden ice cream in there.
Is your dog an ear-licker, too?
Keep reading to find out:
- 3 dangers of this weird habit.
- 9 reasons why dogs lick other dogs’ ears.
- 5 tips you can do to stop your dogs from licking other dogs’ ears.
- And much much more…
Table of contents
Why do dogs lick other dogs’ ears?
Dogs lick other dogs’ ears for reasons such as it’s a form of greeting, liking earwax, being submissive, grooming, showing affection, or having a compulsive disorder. It could also be that they’re being anxious, bonding with the others or the other dog has an ear infection.
9 reasons why dogs lick other dogs’ ears
#1: It’s their other way to say ‘Hello’
Just when you thought that sniffing butts are gross, here comes licking ears. Apparently, this behavior is another way for dogs to greet each other.
You’ve probably seen your dog sniff other dog’s butts a million times. (Sometimes, they even do it to you).
According to VCA Hospitals, this behavior enables them to know details about the other dog’s health.
By sniffing their butt, it lets your pooch know their sex, diet, or even sicknesses they may have. All because of the scent their anus gives off.
But what about licking ears? Does ear scent also provide a dog’s well-being?
The reason why they lick each other’s ears is just to greet ‘Hello’. It’s an alternative to butt-sniffing, if I may say.
However, this varies.
As some shy dogs won’t lick the inside of other dogs’ ears upfront. Some will settle in the outside part first. With little licks here and there to test boundaries.
Then they’d move to the interior part of the ear as they get more comfortable with each other.
#2: They like the taste of earwax
“Why are you grossed out, human?
Earwax is yummy. It’s salty and it smells funky… You should try it!”
Uhm. Thanks, but no thanks, doggo.
Another reason why dogs would lick other dogs’ ears is that they like the taste of earwax.
So don’t stress too much when your pooch’s an ear-licker. Chances are they’re just being…dogs. And dogs like weird and smelly stuff.
(Unless they’re doing it excessively, I’ll talk about this later on.)
So what’s in earwax that some dogs like licking the heck out of?
Earwax, or also known as cerumen, has:
- Dirt and debris.
- Dead skin cells.
All of these form an appealing combination to dogs. And canines can’t get enough of it.
#3: They’re being submissive
Dogs will also lick other dog’s ears as a form of submission. Especially if they belong in the same pack.
This is a way for them to show dedication to the group. As well as respect for a more dominant dog.
“Will the dominant dog lick the other dog’s ear?”
It’s likely to happen if they belong in a bonded pack. Although in more common situations, the submissive dogs will do most of the licking.
So how can you tell if you have a submissive pooch? Look out for these tell-tale signs:
- Flattened ears.
- Avoiding direct eye contact.
- Lying belly up or rolling over.
- Licking another dog’s muzzle.
- Tail wagging low and fast when the other dog’s around.
#4: It’s a grooming habit
Although dogs like the taste of earwax, some also lick other dog’s ears because they’re grooming them.
Most animals, especially cats, lick to clean themselves. This also goes for dogs.
But sometimes, they’re faced with a dilemma. How are they supposed to clean the body parts that they can’t reach?
That’s where other dogs come in.
Since your dog can’t lick their ears, they rely on you or other dogs to do it instead.
(This also serves as a bonding activity in most packs. Sometimes, they may also do it with you. It’s kind of like being in a group package in a salon.)
But some dogs need this grooming habit more than others.
This is because they have longer ear canals. Or they have longer hairs where earwax clings on.
Based on PetMD, these are the dog breeds that are prone to having excessive earwax:
- Cocker Spaniels.
#5: To show affection
“All my dogs at home lick each other’s ears. It’s gross. Because they’d turn to lick my face after!”
Yikes. Why do dogs do this?
Dogs lick other dogs’ ears to show affection. This shows that they’re comfortable with each other.
And if they also attempt to lick your ears and face, this means that they see you as another member of their pack.
#6: They have a compulsive disorder
Does your dog lick your other dogs’ ears like there’s no tomorrow?
And even if the other dogs avoid and growl at them, they still attempt to get some ear slurpin’?
If this is the common sight at your home, you may be dealing with a dog who has a compulsive disorder.
This makes them lick excessively. To the point that they’re already causing licking wounds or infections to your other dogs.
So what causes this behavior?
Lack of mental stimulation
If your dog doesn’t have anything else to do, their minds don’t get stimulated.
Because of this, they may spend their time doing misbehavior. Which could, later on, lead to doing compulsive actions. Such as excessive licking.
Not only to your other dog’s ears. But also some of their body parts and things at your home.
Do you have a pooch that goes on a licking frenzy every time you leave them alone with the other dogs?
If yes, then you might be dealing with a dog that has separation anxiety.
According to AHF, 40% of dogs aged 14-15 are prone to develop dog dementia. A.k.a. Canine Cognitive Dysfunction.
When this happens, they do repetitive behaviors such as excessive licking.
They might also fail to recognize their dog parents. As well as the behaviors and commands they’ve learned before.
#7: They’re anxious or scared
When dogs lick other dog’s ears, it doesn’t always mean that they’re grooming them.
Sometimes, it can also be because they’re stressed.
They’d also do this when they’re scared. By licking other dogs’ ears, they’d appear less threatening. And avoid fights.
You see, licking releases the endorphin hormones. And this ‘feel-good’ hormone gives them a sense of calmness when they get anxious.
Aside from that, it also helps in soothing themselves.
“What situations could be causing my pooch to become anxious?”
The most common sources of fear and anxiety in dogs are:
- New environment or house.
- Sudden loud noises like fireworks.
- Being around new people and dogs.
#8: It’s a form of bonding
“Doggos who lick ears together stay together.”
According to Nicola Ackerman, adult dogs have nerve endings in their outer ears. And when stimulated, these release pheromones.
So when dogs lick each other’s ears, they feel calm and at peace.
If you have multiple dogs at home, you might notice that the usual time they lick each other’s ears is before bedtime.
Or when everybody’s just chilling and relaxing.
The feeling it gives the dogs must be similar to having a head massage before going to sleep, I’d bet.
(Now it’s making me think of having a good massage, too.)
#9: The other dog has an ear infection
Lastly, dogs will lick another dog’s ear if they have an infection. Isn’t that the yuckiest thing you’ve heard today?
An ear infection or otitis externa may smell, especially if it already has a discharge. And as you already know, dogs REALLY like smelly things.
Because of this, they would want to explore by getting a taste of it. (I know it’s disgusting. But please bear with me.)
“Eew. Why would they want to do that?”
Aside from sniffing, dogs also explore with their mouths. So if they’re curious about one thing, they’ll try to learn more about it by licking or even eating it.
So how can you know if the dog being licked has an ear infection?
Here are the common signs:
- Head shaking.
- Ears have a bad odor.
- Red and inflamed ears.
- Frequent scratching of the ear.
- Has a black or yellowish discharge in the ear canal.
Note: If your dog is showing symptoms of an infection mentioned above, take them to the vet for a check-up.
3 dangers when your dog licks other dog ears
#1: It can cause an infection or licking wounds
If your dog excessively licks other dog’s ears, they may cause an infection.
“But I’ve heard that dogs lick wounds to help them heal. So why would this cause an infection?”
Yes, a study shows that a dog’s saliva is antibacterial. And it may help combat certain bacterias and infections.
However, licking a dog’s ear may cause more damage than good.
Because if ears are moistened with saliva, it becomes an ideal environment for bacterial growth.
Aside from infections, the dogs being licked may start to have wounds. More so if you have a dog who’s obsessed with licking ears.
#2: The habit could lead to obsession
Your dog’s innocent licking habit could turn into an obsession or a compulsive disorder. Especially if they’re doing this because of an anxiety problem.
If this continues, the behavior may lead to other problems.
For example, your dog licks ears with medication. Because they ingest this, they could get an upset stomach.
#3: They may ingest ear medication
If your dog licks the ear of a dog who’s got an infection, it might accidentally lick its ear medication.
When this happens, they may get an upset stomach or toxic poisoning. (In case they ingest these in large amounts.)
Bonus: Fights will ensue
“Doggo, I need some space. Get off my ear!”
Other dogs may be tolerant of your pooch licking their ears at first. Because in a dog’s world, this is like getting a free massage.
But this can be annoying after some time.
I mean, can you imagine doing your daily life with another person licking your ear all the time? That can’t be good!
So if your dog’s licking is already a bit much, dog fights may occur more often.
How do I stop my dog from licking my other dog’s ear? 5 tips
#1: Divert their attention
Licking ears is common for dogs. They do this to groom each other or as a form of their bonding activity.
If this is what’s happening with your pooches, then let them enjoy it.
“But my dog licks my other dog’s ear so much. He already has licking wounds from it…”
My, oh my.
In this case, you can stop your pooch by distracting them. And then divert their attention to something else.
To effectively do this, you need to sidetrack them with another activity that they like. (Something that’s more fun than licking ears.)
Like playing fetch with the other dogs. Or take them all for a drive.
Oh, and before I forget.
In this kind of situation, giving your dog treats isn’t advisable.
Because if you do, your dog might think that they’re getting rewarded for licking other dogs’ ears. Thus, they’ll be more encouraged to do this.
#2: Resolve the root of the cause
To stop your dog’s licking habit, you must first know the reason why they’re doing this. Or else they’d continue using licking ears as their blanket of security.
Are they doing this because of anxiety?
In this case, you have to help build their confidence. Desensitize them to the things they’re scared of.
You can also expose them to different things gradually. This way, they’ll get less scared and anxious in new environments.
Now, if their licking is because they’re being submissive to the other dogs, ask for a dog behaviorist’s advice.
#3: Give them an interactive toy
If you want to stop a dog who likes to lick earwax, give them something else to play (and eat) instead. Like a Kong.
A Kong toy is interactive. It’s played by shaking it and trying to make the kibbles come out of its hole.
With this, your pooch will have the same experience as trying to get earwax out. But this time, they’re not bothering other dogs.
They’ll also spend more time playing with it, thus lessening their boredom.
And let’s face it. Playing with chew toys is more acceptable than licking earwax, isn’t it?
#4: Teach them the ‘Leave it’ command
Your other dogs are starting to get annoyed with your pooch who’s got a licking problem.
So to keep the peace and quiet at home, teach your licking pooch the ‘Leave it’ command. Hopefully, you can curb your dog’s habit before it turns into an obsession.
Just follow these 5 simple steps.
- Hold a dog treat in your hand. Then let your dog sniff it.
- Ignore their attempts to take it out.
- Once they stop and back away, open your hand and give them the treat.
- Repeat steps 1-3.
- Introduce the word ‘Leave it’ as soon as they back away by themselves.
Practice this with your pooch as often as you can. And use it to stop them when they’re trying to lick your other dog’s ears.
#5: Clean your other dogs’ ears
Trivia: Research shows that canine ears may contain many bacterias and yeasts. That’s why ear infections are harder to treat. To avoid this, you should prevent it before it occurs.
Do you have an earwax-licker dog? (Don’t worry. Nobody’s judging here.)
In this situation, you have to eliminate the cause of the problem. Which is the earwax itself.
So what you need to do is clean your dogs’ ears regularly.
This will lessen grooming sessions. As well as prevent ear infections from earwax and bacteria build-ups.
Check out this video below to see how you can properly clean your dog’s ears at home:
People also ask:
What does it mean when a male dog licks a female dog’s ear?
A male dog licks a female dog’s ear because it’s a way to show bond and affection. This behavior doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s going through a heat cycle.
Unlike the anus and vaginal region, ears don’t give off the heat scent that female dogs produce.
Thus, licking ears does not make them feel aroused.
What the outer part of their ears releases are pheromones. It’s what you can call the ‘feel-good’ or the ‘happy’ hormone that can help relax dogs.
Wait, there’s more.
Another reason why the male pooch will lick the female’s ear is that he’s grooming her.
He’s cleaning her ears. And maybe he’s also trying to get a taste of the earwax delicacy most dogs love.
Can a dog licking another dog’s ear cause an ear infection?
A dog licking another’s dog’s ear can cause an ear infection. This is because damp ears can be breeding grounds for bacteria.
Dogs can smell infection. It’s one of the reasons why they’d want to lick other dogs’ ears.
But what about a dog that doesn’t have an ear infection?
In this case, they may start to have one. Especially when the other dog’s licking is extreme.
This happens when there’s too much saliva in the other dogs’ ears.
Because it’s always moist, it’s more prone to bacteria, fungi, and yeast growth. This results in the other dogs’ ears becoming itchy.
Therefore, they’d scratch their ears more often.
Scratching leads to wounds.
Wounds will turn to infection.
And finally, infection will lead to more dog licking.