Why do my dogs lick each other's ears?

Updated April 17, 2017

When dogs are familiar with each other, they can be very affectionate. It is common for two friendly dogs to lick each other's ears, and they might also extend this behaviour to humans too. Although this behaviour is a good sign that the two dogs are getting along, it is important to check their ears regularly as excessive licking can cause irritation and infection.


Dog behaviour can be hard to interpret. Although there are different reasons why dogs might lick each others ears, it is usually a positive sign and not a cause for concern. Licking around the ears shows familiarity and friendship. If your dogs are displaying this kind of behaviour, it shows that they view each other as part of the pack. This is also why they might lick human ears too and it demonstrates a bond with their owners.


There are three primary reasons why your dogs might lick each other's ears. This how they would groom themselves in the wild. As dogs are not able to reach their own ears, they allowed other members of the pack to groom that area for them. Dogs might lick the ears of another dog to show that the recipient is the dominant member of the pack. Dogs also seem to enjoy the taste of ear wax, vets say.


If you see your dogs licking each other's ears, this is a positive sign. It shows they accept each other as part of the pack and are being affectionate to one another. Licking also helps your dog maintain good levels of cleanliness in areas it can't reach itself as it acts like a form of grooming. The act of licking also doubles as an act of bonding in itself.


Although licking is an affectionate behaviour in dogs, if dogs are licking inside each other's ears, this could cause irritation and inflammation. As a result, the dog's ear will produce more wax, which stops the ears from drying out could lead to a bacterial infection. Therefore, it is important to check your dog's ears regularly for signs of a bad smell or a build-up of wax.

Expert Insight

The Dog Daily website suggests that this behaviour comes from their ancestors. In the wild, dogs would help clean each other by licking and combing the hair with their teeth. Dogs are unable to reach behind their ears themselves, so their pack mates would help them out. The motions involved in grooming would have helped relax the animals.

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