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Why Do Dogs Lick Your Face? The Real Meaning

  • 12 min read

I have never seen a dog lick the face of a person he doesn’t like, but yes, there are other reasons why your dog licks your face, one of those reasons is love.

Through this article, I will show you other shocking reasons why your dog licks the owner’s face.

So, for those that might be asking why do dogs lick your face. I hope you are ready for this because some of the reasons might be good and others you might find a little disturbing. But in all, we still love those little rascals and we rather they are trying to lick our face than fall sick.

When you see the enthusiasm a dog rushes to lick the owner’s face you just know that it is love, dogs get the same feeling out of licking a human’s face as we get out of kissing our loved one.

Yes, the same feeling, the same love chemical (endorphins) flow through the dog as it does with humans cuddling a loved one. Some find this cute, others think it is weird but this is just up to you.

Licking your face is how your dog communicates with you, and other times licking your face can be because the dog is trying to get you into a playful mood to calm your nerves.

Fun Fact: Dog licking a human’s face to show love and this can be traced back to when they were just puppies. If you have ever witnessed a mother dog giving birth, you will know that the first thing a female dog does after giving birth is lick the puppy clean.

Licking the puppy is the first true affection experience a dog gets from his mother instantly after they are born, and this licking action is not planned but a natural instinct.

As the dog grows, they know that showing love starts from licking and thus they will always do this to anyone they love.

Love is not the only reason your dog might be licking your face, other reasons might shock you but I promise it will be worth it. This knowledge can help you understand the reason behind this face-licking nature and if you are okay with it or you just want to put it to an end.

Reasons Why Your Dog Is Licking Your Face

Here are some of the reasons why your dog licks your face:

To Show They Love You

It is truly the same love that you give when you cuddle your partner as a human, or by kissing your newborn baby, or by hugging someone you have missed so much. This is the same chemical reaction that triggers a dog to want to lick its owner.

As a puppy, licking is the first form of attention and love they get from their mother, and they get their first lick immediately after birth, telling them that this is how you show love, then the puppies grow with this and that is how it becomes a routine whenever they see you.

When your dog licks your face, it helps strengthen the connection the dog has with you and this is important to the dog.

To Carryout Their Grooming Process

Dogs usually don’t like unwanted materials on their skin surface, that is why you see them lick their body whenever they detect something on their skin they don’t like.

This is a dog’s natural grooming process and they will do that to you also. When they detect a “frown face” or something on your face they don’t like they immediately try to lick them off.

This might be weird but that is how they are trying to groom their owner into a fresh smiley and a clean face every time. Some believe dogs are cute like that.

To Tell You They Are Hungry

When a dog is hungry you might find that they come to lick your face, it’s like what a child does to his mother when he or she gets hungry except a child doesn’t have to lick your face.

From time past, canines like dogs and their ancestors the wolf will lick their chief wolf or pack leader’s face as a plead for food, and this tradition has not stopped, it has only evolved to dogs sometimes using the same strategy to beg humans for food (notice I said sometimes).

When puppies are little you see them lick their mother’s lips to get some of the food remains she has on her lips.

So, if you ever notice your dog lick your face, check and see if it is time for their food yet, this will tell you if that is the case and then you can provide them with something to eat.

To Determine How You Are Feeling

Dogs are smart and they know when something is not right. They can also lick your face to tell if you are in a good mood or bad mood.

Dogs are created with molecule detection receptors found in their mouth and nose, they use their thong to collect the molecules in your face and try to process them to find out if you are happy or not really in a good mood.

If you are a dog owner then you probably notice that one time when your dog comes and lick your face, and you are not in a good mood so they stop and give you a bit of space.

But still, not all dogs observe this rule, the more playful and enthusiastic dogs will keep playing with you until you enter into a better mood.

To Show You They Respect You

You might not know this but dogs lick your face to show you they respect you. This also goes back to the canine ancestral tradition. Wolfs will lick their pack leader’s face to honor them or as a sign of honor.

You also you see that in dogs too. Dogs are natural respecters of tradition, you hardly see a dog doing what they are not known for and it is in their blood to give honor to whom honor is due and they do this by licking your face.

To Taste The Salt On Your face

This is not normal for all dogs, but the ones that have gotten used to licking your face to taste the salt on it will do it just because they like it.

As weird as it might sound, it is true. Some dogs do this because it is one of the things they like about their owners.

To Get Pleasure And Feel Safe

Dogs are very sensitive animals, and they feel a lot of emotions, sadness, pain, insecurity and so much more.

Some dog owners don’t take this into consideration and I have seen dogs fight because the owner gives more attention to one than the other.

Dogs easily fall in love with their owners, and licking your face gives them pleasure and makes them feel safe and secure.

To Get Your Attention

Dogs love attention, you should know this by now. They are almost and always usually in a mood to play. They lick your face to trigger you into what I call the “play and pet mood”.

That is why you see them wiggle their tail when they start licking your face, to tell you that it’s playtime and try to get you in the mood.

To Show You They Care About You

Dogs will lick your face to show you they care about you. They are happier about you than you will ever be about them so they lick your face to show you that.

And to show and remind you they care about you, they lick your face. Dogs feel good doing that, They do it to show appreciation for all you have been doing for them. Which can be as little as always coming around them.

To Tell You That They Like Your Scent And Taste

Dogs are cute and funny like that. They could just like the cream you use and the scent of your perfume. This can cause them to want to lick your face.

It could also be the smell of your skin after a bath or even after a workout, dog are sensitive to smell and taste, they can smell you from very far and can’t wait to lick the source of that smell they like.

Or maybe they don’t like the new scent that you have because of your new perfume or new soap so they are trying to lick it off your face and give you back the natural skin scent they are familiar with.

They Do It Because They Think You Like It

Dogs pay attention to almost everything, and they learn very quickly to adapt and change. They might naturally lick your face, but when they see that you switch to play mood as they lick your face, this makes them happy then they will always do it.

But If you switch to negative energy when they do that, they might try again for some days, and slowly they will stop and rarely lick your face until you make them do it again.

Is It Healthy Or Risky For Dog To Lick Face?

For the most part, this depends on the individual or owner of the canine pet (Dog). But generally, it is not of any risk if a dog licks a healthy face.

Please keep in mind that I said health face, this means that if you have a wound on your face, then you are at the risk of infection if you allow your dog to lick the wound.

There have been over 11 reports of people falling ill off of a bacteria infection from a dog’s saliva. This bacteria is called Capnocytophage Canimorsus CDC.

It is usually found in a dog’s saliva and also in a cat’s saliva and this bacteria can gain access to the human body through a bite, a cut, or while licking a wound on the human body.

The CDC bacteria is natural and healthy to a cat or dog tongue but if they enter the human body, they attack the immune system.

This is not the only bacteria found in dogs, so, always wash clean after touching your dog to avoid this bacteria infection.

But if this is not the case, it is perfectly safe to allow your dog to lick your face.

Should I Allow My Dog Lick My Face?

All you need to do is make sure he doesn’t lick your open wound or your mouth.

use a proper sanitizer on your hand and antibacterial soaps to wash your hands and face if you are not going to take a bath.

How do You stop Your Dog From licking Your face?

Dogs are very sensitive, they can detect your mood but they might not understand it.

If you constantly switch to play mood when they lick your face don’t be surprised when they come back to repeat the same thing.

You don’t need to be angry or hit them when they lick your face. All you have to do is walk away or gently shove them away.

Then they will try a few more times and gradually they will know you don’t like it and they will reduce the amount of time they attempt to lick your face. And if you continue showing dislike by gently shoving them away or walking away, then they will stop.

Always come back to pet them by rubbing and stroking the dog, but when this triggers the dog to want to lick your face again, then you should withdraw, and over time they will get the message.

Find time to pet them here and there and trigger them to lick your face, but once you see them trying to do that. Just withdraw.

This is the best way to stop your dog from licking your face while retaining the relationship and at the same time training him to be disciplined.


I hope you got value from this, try some of these tips and build a much stronger bond with your dog. Also, keep your vet close in case you noticed any unusual issues while spending time with your dog.