8 Reasons Why Do Chihuahuas Lick So Much (Explained)

Why Do Chihuahuas Lick So Much? Photo of a Chihuahua licking her lips.

Most Chihuahua parents will agree that these little dogs are prone to licking. But why do Chihuahuas lick so much? What’s so interesting about licking, well, everything? Take a look and see for yourself!

Chihuahuas lick as much as they do primarily to show affection and offer comfort. Licking you is a sign of affection and appreciation. It also can imply a reminder that they are submissive to you. Chihuahuas will also lick to offer you comfort when you show signs of being upset. Another cause of licking is cleanliness, be it of a surface or yourself!

Less common reasons for licking include separation anxiety, boredom, itching, pain, skin problems such as skin irritation, or skin infections. Lastly, licking is also an expected behavior for curiosity.

Now the constant licking makes more sense, right? There are all sorts of reasons!

Do Chihuahuas like licking?

You probably already know this answer, but it needs to be said. Chihuahuas are undoubtedly well-known for their love of licking.

As we’ll discuss in detail, they lick for all sorts of physical and emotional reasons, regardless of how illogical they seem to us.

Many first-time Chihuahua parents will notice more licking in these tiny dogs as compared to other dog breeds they’ve had in the past.

Reasons for Chihuahua licking behavior

So, let’s take a deeper look into the reasons for Chihuahuas and their constant need to lick everything in sight. As introduced above, the reasons are:

  1. Showing affection
  2. Offering comfort
  3. An act of submission
  4. Cleanliness and grooming concerns
  5. Anxiety or emotional distress
  6. Boredom
  7. Itching or pain
  8. Curiosity

1. Showing affection

Dogs lick you and those things around them (like other pets and even toys, bedding, and blankets) to show that they love them. Licking helps them communicate that to you, too!

Licking releases endorphins in both you and your Chihuahua, and many will do this as they are cuddling up with you in bed, snuggling on the couch with a movie, or when you get home from work.

2. Offering comfort

Dogs pick up on your body language and tone of voice much better than many realize. If you aren’t feeling good, physically or emotionally, your dog will pick up on that because he is preoccupied with your well being.

They’ll lick you to offer comfort and calm you down. This is sweet and often does just that since it’s so thoughtful! Many will even lick the tears right off your face!

3. An act of submission

Dogs are pack animals, including tiny little Chihuahuas! This means that they show their respect and attentiveness to you by licking you! This is standard in wild dogs — aka their biological instinct. They’ll do this to other animals that they determine to be alpha to them, too!

4. Cleanliness and grooming concerns

Licking is how they clean themselves. If your dog is licking themselves, you, the blankets, the cat, the floor, etc., it could be that they are simply doing what they can to keep all of those surfaces clean.

If they just so happen to enjoy some crumbs from your toast, then so be it! This is a biological behavior that tends to happen even with proper grooming and bathing. 

5. Anxiety or emotional distress

When dogs get anxious, they will lick themselves to calm themselves down. It goes back to their first few moments of life when they entered the world, and their mother licked them thoroughly.

During their first few days, weeks, and months, licking was a calming technique that helped them feel loved and safe.

As adults, they will often do this self-soothing when they are anxious, scared, feeling emotional for other reasons, and more. This will often be more frantic or rhythmic than other kinds of licking.

6. Boredom

A bored dog will amuse themselves by licking themselves, you, and anything around them. The hope is to find some stimulation to help entertain them.

Also, if they are licking you, it might get your attention, and they’ll get some playtime out of it.

7. Itching or pain

If your dog is itchy or recovering from an injury, their biological instincts will tell them to lick. This both leans the area and helps literally scratch the itch. This is why wearing a cone after a surgery or injury is so important!

8. Curiosity

Naturally curious dogs, due to their intelligence, they will lick things just to check them out. This is often amusing to all those watching a Chihuahua lick a doorknob or a curtain. Dogs use their mouths to check things out, and this includes that inquisitive tongue of theirs!

Why won’t my Chihuahua stop licking?

It’s totally fine if you feel your Chihuahua is licking needlessly. Compared to many other dog breeds, that often appears to be the case. If you feel your dog is licking for no valuable reason, look closer.

Dogs don’t just randomly do things. There is a reason for your Chihuahua’s tendency to lick as much as they are. The first thing to understand why your dog won’t stop licking is to find out the root of their licking behavior. It could be one, or any combination, of those reasons listed above.

Are there certain places they lick most? Is it at specific times of the day or paired with other behaviors? Are there emotional cues that they’re picking up on? Get a feel for what’s going on with your dog’s licking behavior and make a note of it.

Feel like you need help understanding why your Chihuahua is licking? Get it! Your vet and breeder are both great resources to help you understand and recognize the different types and causes of licking. This is where those notes mentioned above will be really helpful!

How do I stop my Chihuahua from licking?

Let’s be honest — a Chihuahua’s licking need can be annoying at times and gross. There’s nothing wrong with stopping your dog from licking, especially if they are licking your face or that one patch on the wall. The steps include:

  • Discover the cause of the licking problem
  • Address the issue (if applicable)
  • Retrain the licking to another acceptable behavior
  • Reinforce the habit

Just like obedience training, your Chihuahua is going to have to unlearn this biological tendency to lick and use another form of “love language” instead!

After understanding the root of your dog’s need to lick, you’ll either discover whether it’s something you have to address or not.

For example, licking because of anxiety or illness is something that you can treat by adjusting your approach to their health. Once treated, the licking should stop (or minimize, at least).

Licking out of curiosity can be curbed by giving them plenty of toys and stimulation. Also, clean up any food spills thoroughly. 

If they’re licking to comfort, show affection, or show submission, you can retrain it. You’ll need to teach this like any other kind of obedience training. Give them a command, such as “no licking,” and reward them when they stop licking.

Make sure you give them time to learn the process since it will take them a bit of time to understand what you want them to do! 

Another detail to keep in mind is that there is no such thing as getting your dog to stop licking entirely. Licking is essential in the biological brain of your dog. Even if you teach your dog to stop licking on command, there will still be licking at some point every single day.

Keep this in mind, since using the command every single time your dog goes to use their tongue is going to be distressing to them!

Are dog licks really kisses?

You knew this one was coming, right? As you might be able to guess, it really depends on the root behavior!

If your dog is licking you on the face. In that case, it’s pretty much a toss-up between the three issues discussed above: showing affection, offering comfort, and licking off your tasty food remnants and/or skincare products. The first two could be interpreted as kisses, and rightly so! 

In many cases, especially after supper, the more likely scenario is they’re cleaning up your “missed” food. Sorry, but it’s true!

Why does your Chihuahua lick you so much?

Are you dealing with a situation where your dog just will not stop licking you every time you get close enough? It’s okay, firstly, if you’re annoyed. It is frustrating to have a slobbery dog tongue on you all the time. So, let’s get to the bottom of it.

Many Chihuahuas will lick you a lot because they are showing how much they care and appreciate you. These affectionate dogs miss you while you’re gone and are saying how happy they are that you’re here with them again. 

Another common reason for licking you a lot is that they see you as the pack leader and are splitting their licking time between showing submission and making sure that you are properly groomed and clean. 

Why does your Chihuahua lick your face?

Most likely, your Chihuahua is smelling, therefore licking, off leftover food or drink from a meal or a snack. Yum. Another very common explanation is that your skincare products smell, and therefore taste, good to your dog!

Why does your Chihuahua lick up your nose?

Gross, to be sure. Chihuahuas will deliberately lick up your nose (and ears) to help clean them. They also tend to lick when curious, too. They’ll just take a “look” at these exciting parts of your face!

Why do Chihuahuas lick their paws?

The main reason for Chihuahuas to lick their paws, in particular, is that they are itchy! Since they walk on them, they often are prime spots of debris, parasite infections, and general discomfort. This is partly why paw-cleaning wipes are great suggestions!

Why do Chihuahuas lick the air?

This one tends to confuse many pet parents, and understandably so! Chihuahuas most often lick the air because they are sniffing. Dogs sniff with their tongues as much as their noses, so they’re simply checking out what’s in the air.

Another possibility is there are flies or other small bugs that you can’t see from where you are. A nice treat for your dog!

Why do Chihuahuas lick furniture?

Licking your furniture is most often associated with food and crumbs. Even if you’re sure that you didn’t spill any, your Chihuahua still probably found something.

Food is the likely reason if you notice your dog licking your couch, carpet, or floor. Curiosity about the texture of these surfaces is another common reason.

If your Chihuahua is licking your bed, the most common reason, in this case, is that they’re keeping it clean for their favorite human to come and snuggle in. It’s both a sign of cleanliness and classic pack behavior with showing affection.

In very rare cases, obsessively licking one concentrated part of your floor, carpet, or piece of furniture could be a gastrointestinal illness.

If the licking is focused on one specific area and you notice symptoms such as excessive panting and a furrowed brow. In that case, it may signify a health issue and you’ll want to take them to the vet to ensure everything is okay.

In review

Chihuahuas have many reasons to lick, which is probably why they lick as often as they do.

The main reasons for licking include showing affection, offering comfort, and showing appreciation as a submissive dog.

They will also lick to help groom (themselves or you), clean an area, explore new things, and alleviate stress, boredom, or illness/injury. There’s a lot to know about when it’s natural and when you can retrain it!

Know someone ready to pull their hair out in frustration as this seemingly illogical behavior? Share this with them to help understand why it’s happening and what to do about it!

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Dog Advisory Council

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