Why Do Dogs Lick Other Dogs Ears – What Are The Reasons

dogs with big ears

Dog’s often exhibit different behaviors around each other. They may jump around and get excited, chase each other, and play. One particular activity that confuses dog owners is ear licking—why do dogs lick each other’s ears?

Most owners associate their dog’s ear-licking habit with a sign of submission. Despite this often being the case, dogs will sometimes lick each other’s ears for many other reasons. Some of these include:

  1. To greet other dogs
  2. To check for ear infections
  3. Part of their instincts learned as a puppy
  4. Sign of submission
  5. Dogs love the taste
  6. To soothe their nerves

For the most part, a dog licking the ears of another dog is not a big concern. This is a natural instinct that many dogs will do with one another and is often friendly. Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons why dogs lick each other’s ears and when dog owners need to be concerned about this behavior. 


Why Do Dog’s Lick Each Other’s Ears?

There are many reasons why a dog may choose to lick the ear of another dog they meet. The most common reasons include:

1. To Greet Other Dogs

One of the most common reasons for ear licking rests with the simplest trait and that is saying hello.  Dogs will link the ear of another dog as a type of greeting in the wild and this has been passed down to more domesticated dogs. While your dog is not out in the wild any longer, they may still do this when they see another dog. It’s also possible for dogs to express this type of emotion towards other animals such as cats. 

Dogs are still a type of pack animal and they like to show a greeting to others any time they encounter another type of dog. Their genetics may make them predisposed to licking the ear of another dog to help them to say hello. 

Do dog prefer their own breed

2. Check For Infection

In some cases, a dog may lick the ear of another dog because they suspect there is some kind of infection present. Dogs have instincts that let them know when another dog is healthy or not and they may use licking the ears as a way to try to help with this. 

Dogs can get several types of ear infections, just like humans. The three most common types of ear infections your dog may encounter include:

  • Otitis externa: This type of ear infection is when there is inflammation in the outside part of the ear. These would include any part of the ear you can see. 
  • Otitis media: This type of ear infection is when the infection reaches the structures of the middle ear. 
  • Otitis interna: This one is further down in the inner ear. It is hard to see this type of infection.

If you suspect that another dog is licking your dog because of an infection, then it is time to give them the proper treatment. It is best to visit your vet and discuss which treatment options are best for the type of ear infection your dog has.

Some dogs are more prone to getting ear infections and should have more regular ear cleaning than other dogs. Of course, it’s always good to ensure your dog’s ears are clean but dogs that spend more time in the water will be the ones to watch out for. For more information check out this article on ear infections 

wax in dogs ear

3. Part Of Their Instincts Learned As A Puppy

It is possible that your dog is licking the ear of another dog as a part of its natural instincts. In fact, puppies learn this when they are young. A puppy may decide to lick the ear of its mother to signal they are ready to eat. 

Dogs licking each other’s ears is another instinct that they have had since they were small, one that allows them to communicate many different things. 

While this type of behavior may start when the puppy is small, they may carry this behavior with them as they get older and become an adult. Some dogs will always have an instinct to lick the ears of other dogs. 

Puppy in the garden

4. A Sign Of Submission

There are different ways dogs communicate. To show submission, most dogs will roll over onto their back, leave their paws in the air. 

Another way they may show their submission to another dog is by letting their ears get licked. They may do this to:

  • Show they are submissive to the other dog. 
  • To show they know the order of the pack
  • To show they are not a threat

Unless the dominant dog is being aggressive with the other dog, there is nothing to be concerned about with this behavior. In fact, it is a gentle way to figure out the pack order without anyone getting hurt in the process. 

5. Dogs Love The Taste

It may seem disgusting or it may be no surprise at all, but dogs love the taste of earwax. As earwax is mainly acidic in nature it begs the question of why dogs love the taste and why they would want to lick it out of another dog’s ears.

Apart from the various reasons discussed during this article, despite the acidic nature of earwax dogs can smell the decaying particles that earwax tends to accumulate. According to the PetMD, the purpose of earwax in dogs is to collect any dirt, microbes, dead skin, pollen, and anything else that is not wanted. This means that earwax will hold onto this material until it is secreted out of the ear or in many cases licked out by another dog.

It is important to clean our dog’s ears from time to time and make sure that they do not get too dirty. If your dog is fond of the water you may notice a horrible smell coming from them, although water lifts scented oils from their skin which in turn makes them stick, you will also find that earwax is washed out of their ears and tends to sit within their fur for all to smell. Check out the video below for a look at cleaning your dog’s ears safely.

6. To Soothe Their Nerves

Your dog may find themselves nervous or uncertain in different situations. And for some dogs, licking can be a soothing way to calm down. Sometimes they will lick themselves to feel better, though they may lick another dog instead. 

A dog may lick another dog’s ears when they are:

  • Nervous around other people
  • Stressed out about something new
  • Anxious, even with bad weather
  • Uncertain about a new situation

If your dog seems to lick other dogs because they seem nervous, then you may need to make it stop. You do not necessarily need to stop the licking. It is better to redirect the licking to another, more constructive, type of behavior so they do not need to rely on other dogs to help them calm down. 

7. Sometimes, Ear Licking is Just Grooming

While many dogs will lick each other’s ears to communicate, sometimes this is a sign of something else. It is not uncommon for a dog to lick the ear of another as a form of grooming. Dogs are not able to groom their own ears, so they may enlist the help of another dog to get this done. 

Ear licking can be a grooming behavior, especially when:

  • They are close to each other
  • They have met each other in the past
  • They live with each other

Two dogs who have never met are not likely to start licking each other’s ears for grooming purposes. This is reserved for dogs who know each other well.

If you’re interested in keeping both your dog clean and your house clean then check out these two articles:

How to clean your dog after a walk 

How to keep your house clean with muddy dogs

Do dog prefer their own breed

Is Ear Licking Bad?

Most of the time, dogs licking one another’s ears is not a bad thing. It can be friendly and a good way for them to communicate. Pet owners do need to be careful when licking does get out of hand. Some dogs may take the licking too far and can end up harming the other dog too much. 

Too much ear licking can become a concern when:

  • The other dog gets soreness in the ear lobe. 
  • When the earlobe gets infected
  • When the ear licking seems to be a compulsive behavior

This is more of a concern when the dogs live together or see each other often. If your dog struggles with knowing when to stop licking, some training sessions may be necessary. You can also talk with your vet if the problem persists. 

What to Do When Dog’s Lick Each Other’s Ears

When you see dogs licking each other’s ears, it is not something to be concerned with. There are many reasons why a dog may choose to lick the ears of another one, from saying hello to looking at an infection or even to help each other groom. 

Ear licking is a natural habit for many dogs and usually not something to be concerned about. Unless the two dogs seem to get aggressive when they lick each other, this is something pet owners can allow their dogs to do. 

If you really don’t want your dog to lick other dogs’ ears, then some simple training will be required. The leave-it commands should be sufficient enough to stop your dog licking. once you have done this your dog should begin to realize that this is not something they should do. Check out this article on the leave it commands and how best to train your dog. “How to train your dog to leave something”

Remember that patience is the best method when trying to train a dog, it may seem difficult at first but if you were to train a dog without patience it will take longer and you will be more stressed. I covered the leave it commands in this delightful article “Why do dogs eat rabbit poop”


So there you have it the reasons why dogs lick each other’s ears can be vast, it up to you to determine the most likely reason, based on the dog you have. Hopefully, you enjoyed this post and if you are interested in more great content all about dogs and the great outdoors then check out our homepage.

Dean Lissaman

As a child I grew up around dogs and have loved them ever since. I now have a beloved Golden Retriever who enjoys exploring the outside world. Being an outdoor enthusiast has inspired me to create the ultimate resource on relating both dogs and the outdoors. For more information on me check out my about page.

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