Why Do Dogs Lick Your Ears? The Surprising Science Behind a Dog’s Ear Licking


Home / Dog General / Why Do Dogs Lick Your Ears? The Surprising Science Behind a Dog’s Ear Licking

Do you ever wonder why your dog licks your ears?

It's a common question, and the answer might surprise you. There is actually a lot of science behind why dogs lick people's ears, and it has to do with their natural instinct to cleanse and groom themselves.

In this blog post, we will take a closer look at why dogs lick people's ears and what the benefits are for both the dog and the human!

Love and affection

Dogs lick your ears because they love you and want to show their affection.

It's a way of bonding with their human companion and providing them with some extra attention.

It's also another part of your body that they can lick - especially if you're just lounging in bed or on a sofa.

Grooming and cleaning your hard to reach areas

Sometimes dogs lick your ears because they're trying to groom you and keep you clean.

Ear licking is one of the ways that dogs groom themselves, and it helps remove dirt, wax, and other debris from the ear canal.

This can help keep your ears healthy and free from infection.

In the same way, since you're pack of their pack, they'll also try to do the same for you (exactly like why dogs like other dogs ears)

Also, the ears are a difficult area to reach, and dogs often try to lick and nibble on them as a way of cleaning them.

This is especially common in puppies who are still learning how to groom themselves.

Also, as you know how good a dog's sense of smell is, they might actually have detected something in your ear and is just trying to get rid of it for you.

Curiosity and exploration

Dogs lick your ears because they're curious about them.

The ear is a strange and unusual body part for a dog, and they may be curious about what it looks like and how it feels.

But this usually occurs in puppies, as they're trying to explore the world around them.

As they explore, they'll start using their senses - and their nose may ultimately lead them to explore your ear, and taste it.

They enjoy the taste of you

Some dogs simply enjoy the taste and texture of human ears, and they will lick them just for fun.

Or, some dogs have a particular like for the smell of ears - don't ask me why, but some dogs do enjoy it.

In general, this is especially common in puppies who are still exploring their environment and trying new things.

Puppies tend to bite, nibble and lick at everything, and your ears are just another target for their (adorable) attacks.

They're comfortable with you

Licking is a sign of submission, and dogs will often lick the faces and ears of their owners as a way of showing respect.

In fact, some dogs lick your ears as a sign of respect - to show that you're a valued member of the pack.

If your dog licks your ears frequently, it's probably a sign that they trust and respect you!

You have some food crumbs on you

Dogs lick your ears because they're hungry!

While eating snacks (especially of the crunchy, chip variety), crumbs can get everywhere.

That includes your ears. It rarely happens, but it can possibly happen.

When it does, your dog might smell the crumbs or particles on your ear and proceed to lick it off you.

Attention seeking

Dogs lick your ears because they're seeking attention or looking for a reward.

This behavior in particular may seem cute, but be warned - it can be seen as a relatively destructive behavior.

If your dog licks your ear and you don't give it attention, there may be a chance it escalates and starts nibbling and biting harder.

If you think this may be the case, it may be a good idea to train them and help expend their excess energy!

Stress relief

Dogs lick your ears because it helps relieve stress.

Licking is often associated with calming behaviors, and dogs may lick your ears as a way of reducing their anxiety levels.

It can also be seen as a sign of submission and can help to diffuse tension in certain situations, especially in tense situations where we argue with other members of the family.

Possible changes in your ear smell (possible infections)

Dogs lick your ears because they can smell something that's not right.

If a dog is constantly licking your ears, it may be a sign that there is something wrong and they are trying to alert you to the problem.

The most common reason for this is an ear infection, which can cause an unpleasant odor that dogs will pick up on.

So if your dog usually doesn't sniff and lick your ear but suddenly starts, you might have something going on, and it may be a good idea to see a doctor.

A personality quirk

Dogs lick your ears because it's just a quirk or habit of theirs.

Some dogs may develop a licking habit for no specific reason, and there is usually no underlying meaning behind it.

It's simply something that the dog enjoys doing and they will continue to do it even if you discourage them from doing so.

Yeah, some dogs are weird like that. But that's why we love them!

However, be warned - there have been a few rare cases where dogs constantly licking our ears can lead to us getting viral infections (source)


Although the scientific community has yet to come up with a definitive answer as to why dogs lick our ears, there are several plausible explanations.

If your dog usually doesn't like your ears and starts licking them more than usual, it may be a sign of an infection.

Alternatively, if something changes in your life - such as stress at work - and your dog suddenly becomes more interested in your ears, it could be because your dog is trying to comfort you.

No matter what the reason, it's always important to keep an eye on your pup's behavior and take him or her to the vet if anything seems off.

Sometimes, dogs may just be quirky, and that's really the best (or only) explanation.

Do you have a theory about why your dog licks your ears? Let us know in the comments!

about the author

Frank Harrigan

Frank loves tacos and dogs - the good, bad and ugly sides of dog ownership.

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