This article is part of “Adopt Your Love-a-Bull Valentine”, a joint online event by C.A.R.L., SPARC, and AFLAR. Be sure to check out all the pit bulls and other big dogs available from C.A.R.L.! Adoption fees for pit bulls and dogs 40 lbs or heavier are $25 off through February 28, 2017!
We set up a dog kissing booth here at C.A.R.L. recently. It was as adorable as you’d imagine, and the dogs were more than happy to oblige.
That’s not surprising. Dogs love to lick the faces of the people they love, and the C.A.R.L. dogs all love the volunteers.
It worked out pretty well, as you can see. The dogs enjoyed some time in the Arena, and they especially enjoyed some time slobbering all over our faces.
Why do dogs love licking our faces so much, anyway? It’s surprisingly hard to find the answer, so here’s a little research for you.
The Behaviorist’s Answer
In the wild, dogs lick each other all the time. The Ethology Institute Cambridge, an online school for dog behaviorists, lists several reasons why it’s such a well-established behavior.
- Dogs have incredibly advanced smell and taste receptors, and they lick things to learn about them. As the EIC says, they might gain “much more information about who we are and how we feel than we can probably can imagine” through their tongues.
- Studies have shown that licking releases endorphins in a dog’s brain. That’s the hormone that makes people feel happy, and it does the same in dogs.
- Face licking is used among members of a pack to indicate respect and affection. By licking your face, your dog is trying to show their love for you.
- Finally, and it’s a little gross, they might be trying to get some food out of you. Puppies lick their mothers’ lips to encourage them to regurgitate food for them to eat. Fortunately, we have better options.
Or maybe you just taste good. Tricks with liver pate aside, some dogs just like how their owners taste. Skin is salty, and dogs can enjoy that.
Is It Safe to Let Your Dog Lick Your Face?
As far as people go, the reactions are varied. Everyone agrees it’s cute and endearing when a dog wants to kiss them all over their faces, but most people don’t really enjoy it.
But is it safe? Can you catch anything by letting your dog lick you? It turns out: yes, but only if you get way too into it. The New York Times published an article last year where they spoke with several veterinarians, virologists, and other people in the know.
The verdict? Common sense. Dogs sniff, lick, and eat all kinds of stuff. It’s obvious that some germs would end up in their mouths.
Anyway, you’re not going to catch anything from your dog licking your face. Just keep your mouth closed.
Meanwhile, enjoy the photo gallery of our Doggy Kissing Booth. Remember, every dog here is available for adoption!
Thank you to Kimberly Conley Photography for the amazing photo shoot. She even brought the kissing booth! Read her blog about this shoot.
Opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Canine Adoption and Rescue League.