Pet 101: Why Do Dogs Sniff Each Other’s Ears?

Having a pup inside the house is like having a friend you can always play with. Although dogs can’t talk, they have different ways to communicate. With the help of different interactions and touches, your dog can easily understand what you want to convey. Unlike humans, dogs can’t speak to communicate with us, so they use their mouths and nose to do so. Also, they interact with others through their sense of smell. Thus, licking and sniffing is a way they interact with other dogs and even humans! Indeed, the bond between humans and dogs is astounding.

Do you wonder how your dog shows affection? Well, do you come home, and your dogs run towards you to lick and sniff you? That’s definitely their sweetest way of welcoming you: licking your whole face! On the other hand, have you seen how your dogs communicate with other dogs? If you have seen them licking and sniffing another dog’s ear, then you’ve seen how they interact with each other. 

If there are many ways to interact with others, why do dogs sniff each other’s ears? Dogs sniff each other’s ears for various reasons, but basically, this is their way of showing affection or submission. In some cases, since dogs can’t clean their ears, other dogs will lick it for them. It could also mean your dog is bored, hence sniffing and licking other’s ears to keep them busy and occupied. 

Why Does My Dog Sniff Other’s Ear?

It may seem gross, but believe it or not, licking and sniffing is generally your dog’s way to communicate! As a pet owner, you should understand your dog. Listed below are some reasons why dogs love to sniff and lick other’s ears:   


Dogs aren’t capable of grooming themselves. Hence, another member of the pack will step forward to do it. Dogs who live on one roof will feel comfortable with each other. Thus, they’ll groom each other by sniffing and licking each other’s ears. While this helps remove ear mites, excessive sniffing and licking can cause irritation, or worst, an ear infection. For that reason, always have time to check your dog’s ears. 

Show of Affection

Does your dog always sniff and lick your ears? Well, he’s just telling you much he loves or misses you! So when he licks and sniffs other dogs’ ears, either he wants friendship or affection. Dogs only rely on intuition, and since they can’t speak to show compassion, ear-licking is their way to show it.

Loves Earwax 

The salty taste of ears attracts them to sniff and lick your ears. Yes, dogs love to savor weird flavors, like that of the earwax, too! Dogs, just like babies, love to explore the world through their mouths. Perhaps because of curiosity, or he simply wants to explore it. 


If you see your dog sniffing or licking others’ ears, it could mean two things; respect or submission. He gives respect to you or any members of the pack once he starts sniffing your ears. This could also mean submission to another member of the pack, and the one who gets his ears licked is the dominant one. 


A dog who feels bored will always find a way to keep himself busy. Since he only relies upon his mouth and sense of smell, he’ll always find something to sniff and lick. If you notice your dog licking another’s ear because of the lack of other activities to do, better look up ways to ease his boredom!

Why Do Dogs Love Licking?

dogs love licking

This approach might also be connected to the primal instinct present when they still lived with their pack. Since dogs can’t lick their own ears, the other member would step in to help clean their ears. Dogs also lick to greet, socialize, and stimulate bodily functions. 

Dogs, together with their sense of smell, rely on their mouth for different things. From eating to labeling boundaries for humans and other dogs, their mouths can do so much. Dogs even use their tongue to clean themselves and to cleanse their wounds! Typically, mothers lick their puppies to clean and groom them. 

Licking and sniffing are common traits associated with dogs that they’ll carry throughout their lives.

When Should I Get Concerned?

A dog licking another’s ear is a natural behavior. However, it might suggest an underlying medical condition for both. The presence of infection causes a dog to scratch ears. This will then prompt another dog to lick and clean the infected ears. 

On the other hand, excessive and repeated licking and sniffing to the same area might indicate a compulsive disorder. This often suggests underlying conditions such as infection or a great effort to soothe themselves in times of stress and anxiety. Generally speaking, moisture in your dog’s ear can cause an ear infection. When one dog develops bacterial or yeast infection, chances are, the other dog can also get it. 

Discouraging Ear Licking in Dogs 

discourage dog licking ears

Your dog licking your ears is just a sign of affection, but if this gets bothersome and annoying, you have to stop and discourage him. Since your goal is to prevent him from licking his ears, you might think of different ways to keep him busy.

How do you discourage him then? The moment he starts licking and sniffing another ear, go for a walk. Dogs always love adventure! The moment he knows he’ll go outside for a walk makes him excited and forget his habit of ear-licking. Another way of keeping him busy is to put food on his toy. He will surely think of ways on how to get his food! Keeping him occupied with his treats and mind games will stop him from sniffing other’s ears.

Usually, it would take time for him to break this habit, but as his master, it would be best to stick to the game plan. 

Should I Let My Dog Lick and Sniff My Ears?

This concern is always up to pet owners. If you aren’t bothered by your dog sniffing and licking your ears, then there’s no need to stop him. However, if it annoys you because of health concerns, then you need to stop him. Think of different activities that will make him busy and occupied. Vets suggest mind games like IQ treat balls to limit their ear-licking habit.


  • Brad

    Hi I'm Brad, the founder of Having been a vet of 6 years I work alongside our team to provide valuable insight into your dog's health. I have a frenchie myself named Senzu who is my pride and joy!

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