Why do Dogs Lick Each Other’s Ears?

why do dogs lick each other's ears
A happy Korean woman enjoys spending time with her Golden Retriever outdoors in a Los Angeles county park in California on a sunny day. She cuddles her beloved pet.

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The world of dogs is a captivating realm filled with intriguing behaviors and social dynamics. Among the many curious behaviors exhibited by our canine companions, one that has often left pet owners and enthusiasts puzzled is the act of dogs licking each other’s ears. This seemingly innocuous act carries deeper meaning in the complex world of canine communication and social interaction. In this article, we delve into the fascinating world of why dogs engage in ear-licking, uncovering the reasons behind this behavior, from bonding and grooming to establishing social hierarchies. Understanding the motivations behind this canine quirk not only sheds light on their unique communication methods but also deepens our appreciation for the intricate world of our furry friends. So, join us as we explore the captivating and endearing phenomenon of dogs licking each other’s ears.

Why do Dogs Lick Each Other’s Ears?

Dogs, much like humans, have a language all their own, and one of the ways they communicate and bond is through licking. While you might observe your dog occasionally licking your face or hands as a sign of affection, dogs licking each other’s ears is a behavior rooted in their evolutionary past. It serves. It serves various vital functions in their social interactions and overall well-being.

  1. Social Bonding: Just as we hug or shake hands with friends and family to strengthen social bonds, dogs engage in ear-licking as a means of bonding with other dogs in their pack. This physical contact reinforces trust and camaraderie, solidifying the connections within their group.
  2. Grooming and Hygiene: Dogs naturally keep themselves and their pack members clean. Licking another dog’s ears can serve a grooming function, helping to remove dirt, debris, or even parasites. It’s like giving your friend a helping hand to stay clean and comfortable.
  3. Communication: Dogs communicate through various body language signals, and licking their ears is one way they convey information. It can signify submission and respect. In a social group of dogs, the one lower in the hierarchy may often lick the ears of the dominant dog to show deference and maintain peace within the group.
  4. Stress Reduction: Just as humans find comfort in physical contact, dogs also use ear-licking as a form of stress relief. When a dog is anxious or uneasy, licking a companion’s ears can be a soothing gesture, promoting a sense of security and comfort.
  5. Maternal Instincts: Mother dogs mainly use ear-licking as part of maternal care. It helps keep puppies clean, stimulates circulation, and creates a strong bond between the mother and her offspring. This behavior is essential for the survival and development of young puppies.
  6. Taste and Smell: Dogs have a heightened sense of smell, and they can detect information about other dogs through their scent. Licking another dog’s ears allows them to gather information about the dog’s health, emotional state, and even diet. It’s like a canine “handshake” for sharing information.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why do dogs lick each other’s ears? Dogs lick each other’s ears as a way of bonding and showing affection within their pack.
  2. Is ear-licking a sign of dominance in dogs? Yes, ear-licking can signify submission and respect, especially when a lower-ranking dog licks the ears of a more dominant one.
  3. Do dogs lick each other’s ears for grooming purposes? Yes, ear-licking can serve a grooming function by helping to remove dirt, debris, and even parasites.
  4. What role does ear-licking play in a mother dog’s behavior? Mother dogs lick their puppies’ ears as part of maternal care, helping keep them clean and creating a solid bond.
  5. Can dogs detect information about other dogs through ear-licking? Yes, dogs use ear-licking to gather information about another dog’s health, emotional state, and diet, thanks to their heightened sense of smell.


The act of dogs licking each other’s ears, while seemingly simple, serves as a multifaceted form of communication and social interaction. From bonding and grooming to conveying respect and even gathering information, ear-licking is an integral part of their unique canine language. Understanding this behavior offers valuable insights into the intricate world of our beloved four-legged companions, deepening our appreciation for the depth of their social dynamics and relationships.



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