Why Do Dogs Lick Each Other’s Ears?

Last Updated: March 1, 2023

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Dog licking another dogs ear

Dogs often exhibit behaviors that we, as humans, don't understand. It's one of the things that make owning a dog so much fun.

While dogs certainly do weird things on their own, things can get a little stranger when you throw another dog into the mix.

One of the most puzzling things that dogs do to one another is lick each others' ears. So why do they do it?

Canine Relationships

One of the simplest reasons why dogs do this is to simply show affection. In the wild, canines typically live in packs. Within these packs is a social ladder.

Stronger dogs are the leaders while more submissive pups do the following.

It's not uncommon to see younger dogs lick the ears of their superiors. These creatures can't communicate verbally like humans can, so they use other methods to show their affection.

Licks on the face or ear is simply a way to say to show their appreciation or friendliness.


While dogs are known to be quite messy, they do care about hygiene.

Dogs will lick their own bodies to clean themselves up. However, the ears are a part of the body that dogs can't reach alone.

They also happen to spots that collect dirt and wax pretty easily. This is where the other dog comes in. Canines will help one another out if they have a strong relationship.


This reason may be a bit gross, but it's the reality for many dogs. Some canines simply like the taste of grime.

Dogs develop taste preferences throughout their lives. Ear wax tends to be on the salty side. If one pup likes salty foods, there's no reason why they wouldn't enjoy a bit of ear wax. 

These dogs will follow the scent until they find some more of the tasty snack they desire. They may even gravitate towards their owner's ears.


Sometimes, ear licking may indicate that a dog is suffering from an ear infection.

Infections often result in the buildup of yeast. This substance has a distinct smell and taste. Even if the dog didn't enjoy the taste of ear wax before, they could be attracted to the new smell coming from the discharge.

Is Ear Licking Safe?

Generally, ear licking is no major cause for concern. It's innocent enough and most dogs don't mind if there's a good relationship between the two.

However, problems can arise in certain situations. For one, they can quickly develop OCD-like behavior. This results in constant licking.

Another thing to be concerned about is infection in the dog that's being licked.

The saliva will make the other dog's ear damp. If they have a lot of hair on their ears, the saliva may take a while to go away.

This creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. It can quickly lead to a painful infection.


The occasional ear lick and grooming session is usually innocent behavior. Dogs develop strong relationships with other animals and simply want to show their affection.

However, if your dog starts to exhibit this behavior regularly, you may want to take action to avoid any future problems from developing.

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About the author 


Steve is a writer with over 10 years of experience in dog training and nutritiion.

His goal is to educate dog owners about the ins and outs of canine behavior as well as keeping up with the latest scientific research in the field.