Ear licking is strange behaviour for humans but dogs do it often. Some people like it and some think it is disgusting as it leaves some saliva on your ears and makes your ear wet.
So, why do dogs lick your ears? There could be more than one reason.
Why do dogs like your ears?
Dogs lick your ears because it is part of their ancestral behaviour and also they want to show respect or return a favour.
We talked about dogs’ ancestry in this blog many times, but not without a reason. Most of the dog’s odd behaviours come from the fact their ancestors are grey wolves and our dogs these days inherited some of that ancestry from wolves behaviour.
As wild animals, wolves live in pacts, and they are part of complex social rituals like nibbling, social grooming, whining, face-licking, and howling. Wolves care for each other as individuals and they are highly social.
Licking is just one of the social behaviours they do to help each other.
Dogs, like wolves, have similar behaviour.
First, let’s talk about why do dogs lick each other?
By licking another dog, dogs help each other to clean areas that are difficult to access like the head or top of the back.
#2 Showing respect
In a wolf pack, grooming can be a sign of showing submissive respect to high authority members. Lower rank wolve may groom a higher rank wolve as a way to show respect.
With dogs, it is similar. The dogs live with us and we, humans, are their wolf pack. Your dog may lick your ears as a way to show you respect as a high ranking member of the family.
Licking can come with other submissive behaviour like crouching down, exposing belly, or tucking their tail.
Our border collie, Capri often lies on her back showing her exposed belly or trying to lick our hands or ears. It is lovely, but I am not a big fan of having wet ears!
#3 Showing comfort and security
Dogs often groom each other as a way to communicate. This way they show they are safe and content and care for whomever they are grooming.
When your dog licks your ears it can mean they love you and are comfortable that you are around.
Usually, your dog should have a soft, lovely face as a sign of comfort when it is trying to lick you.
#4 Dogs are explorers
Dogs don’t have hands like humans, and the way they explore the world is by sniffing or tasting. Most of the dogs sniff all the time when they are outside as there is always something interesting to explore.
Sniffing may not be enough sometimes, so dogs also may chew something to taste its origins. Often puppies chew on an old sock or shoe as a way to explore the home environment.
If your dog is licking your ears it may also mean it is trying to get some information about you, maybe find out where have you been and what you were doing.
#5 Dogs like tasting odd things
Dogs like tasting new things that are in their environment. It could be you dropped something on a floor while cooking or some item laying on the ground when you go for a walk.
If it comes to ear licking dogs may like it to try to taste your ear wax. I know, it sounds disgusting, but dogs are dogs, and some behaviour cannot be understood by humans. Ear wax is salty and this is what attracts your dog to lick it.
Another thing related to ear wax is an ear infection. Once that happens with you or another dog it naturally attracts your dog as the discharge from the ear imitates a specific smell that is not easy to deny by some dogs.
If you see your dog licks other dog’s ears extensively it may be a sign of ear infection. The infected ear smell may stimulate the dog to lick the ears of other dogs to help them to heal as they would normally do with their own wounds.
Why do dogs like your ears? – Summary
Like with other weird dogs’ behaviour, ear licking should be considered as another ‘dog’ thing and is normal.
As we mentioned, one of the main reasons it happens is related to the dog’s ancestry, but that is not everything. Sometimes dogs do it as they are curious, sometimes to show respect and sometimes they want to help another fury animal to heal.
At the end of the day, dogs are ‘tamed’ wolves and their behaviour is dependent on their ancestral past.
Should you act if ear licking happens? Probably not, unless you see, it happens often and extensively. Then, don’t hesitate to do a consultation.
Brain Training for Dogs
Brain Training for Dogs was developed by CPDT-KA certified dog trainer Adrianne Farricelli. CPDT-KA stands for Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed.
Adrienne lives in Arizona with her husband and two amazing Rottweilers and she is passionate about dogs. She was featured in USA Today and Every Dog magazine and also contributed to eHow and All Experts.
Her Brain Training for Dogs program helped thousands of struggling dog owners all over the world.