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Why Do Dogs Lick Their Privates

Written by Assistant
Assistant is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Published on
Thursday 7 October 2021
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
reasons why dogs lick their private parts
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Sometimes we can see our dogs giving themselves a thorough grooming session. It can be quite unpleasant once your dog licks their genitals right in front of us. Furthermore, some dogs do so more thoroughly and for longer periods of time. You may why do dogs lick their genitals and can there be any issues related to this behavior. Also, how do you stop your dog licking or at least stop them from doing it in your face?

It is important to know why dogs lick their genitals and what is normal. This way you can identify when there is a problem. Along with if you need to take your dog to the vet. Irritation, allergies, and coming into season can be just some of the causes for this behavior to increase. So let us take a look at this and learn a little bit more about it.

Why Do Dogs Lick Themselves

Licking is a normal behavior in dogs that they do for multiple reasons. Firstly they may do so as a form of cleaning. They do so to remove debris, liquid, or anything else from the area. This is true with licking their privates as well. They may simply be cleaning the area as they do with the rest of their body. Another reason you may find your dogs licking their genitals is due to injury or pain. They lick wounds or areas that are hurting them to help with healing. They also clean debris out of the wound itself. If your dog’s privates are causing them pain or if they have injured them, they may lick them more than normal.

General licking can also occur as a form of communication. Your dog may lick you or other dogs to show affection, care, or try to get attention. Even if they are to find an injury on someone else, they may lick there to try to help to heal. We most commonly know dogs to lick our faces as a form of affection and excitement. They do so as their mother showed care by cleaning them when they were puppies and thereby mimic this behavior to show the same emotions.

Reasons for Licking Their Privates

Now let’s go on to look at the most common reasons why dogs lick their privates.

For Grooming and Hygiene 

When a dog grooms themself they will do so through licking and gnawing all over the body. They do so to try to remove excess debris from their body such as dirt or loose fur. In the case of licking their genitals, they are doing the same thing. A dog’s fur and their genitals may become stained with urine after they have been to the toilet. Which the dog will lick clean. It may also be that due to them always sitting on the floor, that dirt or other substances become stuck to your dog’s privates that they are trying to clean away. It can also be that your dog is just double-checking that they are clean during a full-body clean. They will work their way down their body until they feel clean.

They’re in Heat

Female dogs who have not been spayed will come into heat when they are sexually mature. During the time they come into season, they shed the uterus lining. This exists for the egg to attach upon when it becomes fertilized. But when this does not happen, it is instead shed and this comes out of your bitch’s genitals. This material can stain things it touches and is also sticky in texture. So it can be quite unpleasant for your dog to sit upon. Furthermore, your dog’s vulva swells during this time and can be quite painful. Therefore, you will often find your dog cleaning her genitals to help soothe and clean them.

Coping with Emotional Issues or Stress

Stress can induce what is known as obsessive compulsive licking. This is when your dog will lick an area because they are happy or stressed in order to self-soothe. Repetitive action can be used as a form to calm down due to it being a distraction to put focus into. Although this licking can occur anywhere over the body, one of the places can be the genitals. It is not entirely known why a dog develops this compulsion in a specific area. Some behaviorists believe it may be an area they cleaned that was near to them at the time in a moment of stress. For example, if they were lying with their paws underneath them when some loud constriction was going o outside, they may start to lick their paws.

Irritation or Pain

If your dog’s genitals are swelling, irritated, or have a wound on them, then your dog may lick to try to stimulate healing or soothing. They may be having an allergic reaction to something they have come in contact with, such as if you use a new fabric softener on their bed. This can lead to itching and swelling which will encourage your dog to gnaw and lick their privates to relieve itching and pain. Furthermore, if they have an injury they may be licking the area to clean it of blood, help with clotting, and try to remove any debris in the site. Dogs will also lick areas of irritation to soothe them by applying cold saliva to be evaporated, leaving momentary relief.

licking is a dog's natural way of grooming
You’ll notice dogs do this after they take a potty break – it’s their way of wiping excess urine off their private part.

Dogs Licking Their Privates: FAQ

More questions. Come take a look at our FAQs for answers.

Should I stop my dog from licking his private area?

You do not need to stop your dog licking their privates unless they do so when they are injured or if the vet advises you to do so. While they are injured they need time to heal and the constant licking may interfere with this. Obsessive-compulsive licking may also need to be interrupted to prevent it from becoming a stereotypical behavior, one of which can no longer be stopped. Consult your vet first and a behaviorist if you have any concerns.

Is a dog licking you a sign of dominance?

It is actually the opposite, when a dog licks you or another dog it can often be a sign of submission. Especially if the licking is accompanied by other submissive behaviors such as bowing the body, whining, and shaking.

Why does my dog keep biting his privates?

This is usually attributed to an itching sensation which has multiple causes. It may be a result of an allergic reaction that has resulted in swelling leading to itching. Identifying the cause and removing it from touching your dog can relieve itching over time. A vet visit can help if you are worried. It could also be due to parasites such as fleas biting the skin leading to irritation and itching.

When should I start being concerned?

You should be worried if your dog’s licking becomes obsessive or if there are any other worrying symptoms such as bleeding, wounds, irritation, or general itching. All of these may initiate a vet visit as treatment may be required. Any worries and you should always contact a professional. You may also need to consider contacting a behaviorist in case this is a sign of obsessive-compulsive order due to anxiety or something else. They can help you to find methods to interrupt or minimize this behavior so your dog’s genitals do not become raw from licking or gnawing. Depending on the cause it would need different aid so it is best to get the advice of a professional.

Are there other illnesses associated with licking?

UTI’s also known as Urinary Tract Infections are commonly associated with a dog licking their privates. Your dog may have inflammation of the genitals, pain whilst peeing, and urine in the blood to name a few symptoms. Testing a sample of your dog’s urine at the vest can help them to diagnose if they have this infection and require treatment.

So there are quite a few reasons as to why your dog may be licking their privates. Many are normal and are actually to be expected. However, there is a line as to when it becomes concerning. If a dog is spending a lot of its time licking its genitals then this may be a sign that something is wrong. You also want to be on the lookout for any discharge, bleeding, swelling, and wounds on or around the area.

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