Why Do Dogs Lick Each Others Mouths

Why Do Dogs Lick Each Others Mouths

Did you know that 90% of canine communication is non-verbal? This often leads us to ask questions about certain behaviors, such as why dogs lick each other’s mouths.

While it may seem like just another peculiar doggy habit, there are actually several scientific and behavioral explanations behind this intriguing act. It’s not only a carryover from their ancestral wolfpack days but also a form of hierarchical display within the pack. Moreover, it serves as a method of communication between dogs and can even be seen as a health check-up or an affectionate gesture.

So next time your furry pal engages in this behavior with another dog, don’t dismiss it as mere playfulness. There’s more than meets the eye – and understanding these nuances can greatly enhance your relationship with your pet while providing insightful glimpses into their world.

Instinctual Behavior from Ancestors

It’s deeply rooted in their ancestral behavior that dogs lick each other’s mouths as a form of communication. This action harks back to their wolf-like ancestors and is more than just an affectionate gesture. It’s part of the complex language system canines use to interact with one another. This behavior draws from ancestral habits where animals would engage in this activity for survival tactics.

Pups would lick the corners of their mother’s mouths, prompting her to regurgitate food for them. Adult wolves also used this method as a sign of peace, submitting to the dominant individual within the pack by licking around their mouth area. This submissive act helped maintain harmony and order within the group, ensuring survival. So when your dogs do this, they’re merely following ancient instincts ingrained over thousands of years.

Hierarchical Display in Dog Packs

Just as knights would bow before their king, canines often display submission within their packs through behaviors such as muzzle nuzzling, a gesture that mirrors our human handshakes or bows. This act is not only about affection but also plays a significant role in establishing pack dominance and leadership roles.

In the canine world, hierarchy is everything. And licking each other’s mouths? Well, it’s one way dogs express respect and submission to their pack leader. Think of it as acknowledging the top dog’s position of authority. The dominant dog will typically remain passive during this interaction, accepting the submissive behavior from lower-ranking members.

This mouth-licking activity also helps maintain peace within the group by reinforcing social bonds and reducing potential conflicts. So next time you see dogs engaging in this behavior, remember: It’s all about recognizing who’s boss!

Communication Mechanism

In the world of canines, body language serves as a primary communication mechanism, painting vivid pictures of dominance and submission without uttering a single bark. Canine language employs a complex system of signals that are both visual and auditory.

  1. Visual Signals: A dog’s posture, tail wagging, ear movement, or even a hard stare can communicate an array of messages to other dogs – from expressions of playfulness to warnings of aggression.

  2. Vocal Signals: Dogs use barks, growls, whines, or howls to send different messages. The tone and pitch can indicate anything from contentment to distress.

  3. Mouth Licking Behavior: This specific action is generally seen as submissive in nature when directed towards another dog’s mouth.

Understanding these aspects helps you interpret your furry friend’s behavior accurately and respond appropriately.

Health Check-Up

Regular vet visits are absolutely crucial, after all, they’re the best defense to nip any potentially dangerous health issues in the bud before they become a full-blown disaster. By observing your dogs lick each other’s mouths, you might be witnessing more than just canine camaraderie. This behavior can also serve as a rudimentary health check-up among pack members.

The impact of vet visits cannot be understated here. They provide professional assessments and diagnose critical conditions that your dogs’ mouth-licking habit may miss. Furthermore, dental hygiene plays an important role in this scenario too. When dogs lick each other’s mouths, they can detect anomalies like bad breath which could signify underlying health problems such as gum disease or tooth decay.

So always remember to keep regular vet appointments and maintain good dental hygiene for your furry friends!

Affectionate Gesture

Beyond the realm of health checks, this behavior is often viewed as an endearing sign of affection among our canine companions. It’s not just about physical well-being; it’s intertwined with emotional bonding and canine empathy.

  1. Emotional Bonding: Dogs licking each other’s mouths can be a way for them to strengthen their bond. Just like human hugs or handshakes, this gesture helps establish trust and closeness.

  2. Canine Empathy: When a dog licks another’s mouth, it might be showing empathy or trying to provide comfort. Animal behaviorists suggest that dogs are capable of reading their fellow dog’s emotions and responding in kind.

  3. Affectionate Gesture: Similar to how humans express love through kisses, dogs may use mouth-licking as an expression of love and respect towards others in their pack.

This intriguing social dynamic showcases just how complex and emotionally driven our furry friends can be.

Frequently Asked Questions

What other animals commonly lick each other’s mouths as a form of communication?”

You’ll be wildly surprised to learn that animals from all walks of life engage in mouth-licking. Primates, with their intricate grooming rituals, and cats, through feline communication methods often partake in this fascinating behavior.

Are certain breeds of dogs more likely to engage in this behavior than others?”

While breed personality traits and genetic behavior patterns can influence a dog’s actions, no specific breed is more likely to lick another dog’s mouth. This is a natural canine behavior observed across all breeds.

Is there a specific age or stage in a dog’s life when this behavior is more prevalent?”

While no specific age or stage increases licking frequency, it’s interesting that 80% of puppies exhibit this behavior. It’s often a dominance display, showing submission to the older, more dominant dogs in the pack.

What should I do if my dog is excessively licking other dogs’ mouths?”

If your dog’s excessively licking others’ mouths, identify the licking triggers. Then, implement behavioral modification strategies like distraction or positive reinforcement. If it continues, consult a professional for further understanding and intervention options.

Can this behavior lead to any health problems or risks for either of the dogs involved?”

While mouth licking among dogs largely signals submission, it’s crucial to note that there’s a 16% chance of disease transmission. Licking dangers include potential spread of viral or bacterial infections between the participating dogs.


So, the next time you see Fido and Spot swapping spit, don’t be grossed out. They’re just catching up on household gossip or asserting who’s top dog. Perhaps they’re even performing a canine health check-up. It’s all in the name of ancestral instincts and affectionate gestures. So, laugh it off! The doggy world is full of such quirks that make them even more endearing to us. Who knew that their mouth-licking antics could be so enlightening?