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Why Dogs Lick Each Other’s Mouths? 3 Vet Reviewed Reasons

Brooke Bundy

By Brooke Bundy

puppy licking a senior dog

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg

DVM (Veterinarian)

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

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One day you might be strolling through the dog park with your canine companion when they suddenly turn to their doggy neighbor and give them a little kiss on the mouth. While your dog probably licks you, you might be surprised that they licked another dog, especially if they have a shy temperament. So, what does it mean when dogs lick each other’s muzzles?  Could it be love at first sight? There’s definitely no need to worry, as this behavior is always a sign of submission, a desire to play, or a display of affection. Here are three likely reasons that your dog might lick another dog’s mouth.

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The 3 Likely Reasons Why Dogs Lick Each Other’s Mouths

1. Puppies Are Hungry

Puppies may lick each other as a way to ask for food. Young dogs notify their mother of their rumbly bellies by incessantly licking her mouth. They’re hoping she’ll feed them by regurgitating some pre-digested meat. Yum. Thankfully, your puppy isn’t relying on you to do the same. Nonetheless, they might still lick you or another dog as a way to ask you to care for them.

Hungry dog with sad eyes is waiting for feeding_jaromir chalabala_shutterstock
Image By: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

2. They Want to Play

Once dogs are past the puppy stage, licking another canine’s face takes on a whole new meaning. They’re no longer asking for food. Instead, they’re begging another dog to play with them, or showing respect to the dog in charge. Your dog might give another signal that they want to play by leaning on its front paws with its rear in the air, especially if they’re shaking a little with their mouth open. Reciprocated kisses communicate mutual respect and affection between both animals.

Golden Retriever Biting a Dog Toy
Image By: Alessandro Ceracchi, Pexels

3. They Like Each Other

Animals form bonds by licking. They might be giving each other kisses or grooming each other. Licking is a sign of mutual trust and admiration. It’s possible that your dog might lick a dog they’ve never met, which may appear like “love at first sight.”

two cute pug and pekingese dogs lying together with one licking the ears of the other
Image By: GoodFocused, Shutterstock

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Licking is a positive behavior in the animal kingdom. It may indicate affection, submission, or a way to communicate needs. Puppies may lick their mothers as a way to ask for food, while older dogs lick others when they want to play together. If you catch your dog kissing another dog, you should encourage the behavior and be glad that they’ve likely found a friend.

Featured Image Credit: HartOfTheSouth, Shutterstock

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