Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Why Do Golden Retrievers Lick so Much? Vet-Reviewed Facts & Habits Explained

Lorre Luther

By Lorre Luther

Cream golden retriever licking nose

Vet approved

Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

There’s nothing sweeter than being loved by a dog. If you have a canine that’s attached to you at the hip, you’ve probably been on the receiving end of more than a few kisses.

Golden Retrievers are notorious for showing affection in this enthusiastic way; they love to put things in their mouths, after all! If this has happened to you more than once, you might be wondering why your pet loves to lick you so much. You’ll be happy to hear that Golden Retrievers lick their humans out of love and affection.

Click to skip ahead:

Divider 8

Do Golden Retrievers Lick Everyone?

Golden Retrievers are quick to show affection to practically anyone. The sweet dogs do fine in unfamiliar environments and love meeting new people.

Most Golden Retrievers have never met a stranger and are happy to make friends. That’s why they’re often used as therapy and service dogs; they’re smart enough to read a room, calm enough not to panic when exposed to new situations, and fond of interacting with new people.

The charming dogs are great family pets as well. They’re fantastic with children and enjoy the action of having several people come and go around them. While some breeds tend to bond deeply with just one person, you won’t see much of that with Golden Retrievers. So, they’ll happily lick just about anyone they meet.

What Are Some of the Other Reasons Golden Retrievers Lick?

It’s most often a sign of affection, particularly when a golden retriever licks a person they live with or know. It’s also a way to get your attention if you’re ignoring them and provide support if they sense that you’re feeling down.

These situations are pretty easy to identify, as they often occur when you’re intentionally giving your dog love or feeling down and out and in need of support. Licking can also indicate that your dog is happy to see you. These are the kind of excited licks you get when you first walk in the door after a long day at work.

On the other hand, licking can sometimes be a sign that something’s wrong with your pet, particularly if it tends to lick a paw, leg, or another body part obsessively or to the point where they start losing hair. Stressed-out dogs sometimes lick themselves as an anxiety reduction mechanism. It’s particularly common in dogs suffering from separation anxiety.

Golden retriever licking a hand
Image Credit: birgl, Pixabay

Divider 4

Where Do Golden Retrievers Most Like to Lick Their Humans?

Faces, hands, and feet are common places for Golden Retrievers to concentrate on when showing their humans some love.

Are Retrievers Prone to Licking and Mouthing Things?

Absolutely! The beautiful, friendly dogs were developed to retrieve downed birds and return them to their hunting companion. As retrievers, they tend to explore the world through their mouths.

They’re known for picking objects up in their mouths without crushing them, and they mouth anything and everything, from shoes to bones.

Thorough training is critical for enthusiastic dogs precisely because they’re so friendly. Without adequate training, Golden Retrievers become too excited when meeting strangers, which can be a problem since some dogs can weigh upwards of 75 pounds or more!

My Golden Retriever Puppy Licks Everything! Will They Grow out of This?

Golden Retrievers are notorious for their tendency to lick people and mouth things, so there’s probably little chance that your pet will stop licking you entirely.

Puppies are learning about the world and often engage in licking and chewing more than older dogs. Your dog will probably begin to lick and chew less as they grow and start learning the basics of following your instructions and containing their enthusiasm.

Remember that Golden Retrievers keep their puppy-like personalities longer than many other dogs. They’ll often stay goofy and have the excitement of a puppy even when they are several years old.

Golden retriever licking nose
Image Credit: 85Miranda, Pixabay

Divider 4

Is It Possible to Get My Golden Retriever to Stop Licking Me?

With a fair amount of training, it’s possible to reduce uncontrolled licking, particularly the sort stemming from excitement. Getting your Golden to stop licking requires a similar approach you’d use to teach your dog to stop jumping on people. Stop rewarding or otherwise reacting to the unwanted behavior and give your companion lots of praise when they manage to contain themselves and not lick out of excitement.

Ensure your dog has many toys they can chew on and carry in their mouths. Consider increasing the amount of exercise you do with your pet as well. The increased activity will provide a positive human-canine bond and wear your dog out, making them less energetic and more inclined to kick back and relax instead of jumping around and licking you for joy.

Is It Safe for My Dog to Lick My Face?

Dogs, like all mammals, have bacteria in their mouths. Make sure to wash up with soap and hot water after your dog gives your hands a welcome home lick.

Also, don’t make a habit of letting your buddy lick your hands while you’re cooking. And don’t let your dog lick any open wounds and take steps to ensure your pet’s saliva doesn’t come into contact with your mouth or other mucous membranes.

Golden retriever licking a woman's face
Image Credit: Blue Bird, Pexels

Divider 7

Final Thoughts

Golden Retrievers love to lick, and they love people. If there’s a Golden Retriever in your family, a fair bit of licking will be involved. The kind animals lick to show affection, especially when they’re excited to see you after they’ve spent a day alone wondering when their human will show up and give them some love.

While it’s possible to reduce unwanted licking that comes from enthusiasm, there’s probably not much you can or need to do about the licks Golden Retrievers love to dole out.

Featured Image Credit: Weinholdphotography, Pixabay

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database