Why Do Boston Terriers Lick So Much

Our Boston Terrier is quite an expressive little dog. She shows her love and affection in so many ways. She’s brightened our lives for the past five years.

Boston terriers lick so much because it’s a way they communicate. They use it to show affection and submission, ask for food, and clean. Additionally, it may be indicative of an underlying medical condition or a sign that they are not getting enough exercise.

If you’re interested in learning more about why Boston Terriers lick so much and how you can curb this behavior, you should read on. We are also going to cover when licking can become problematic.

Why Do Boston Terriers Lick So Much?

Boston Terriers lick as a form of communication and can be a lot more expressive with this activity than other breeds. They can lick to show affection and submission, clean, and ask for food, among other things.

featured image for Why Do Boston Terriers Lick So Much Jojo the Boston Terrier licking his lips

Licking Is an Instinctive Response

The first sensation a Boston Terrier experiences in their life is licking. Their mother will lick to remove the afterbirth from their body and stimulate their breathing. She will continue to lick throughout their early weeks to clean them and stimulate elimination.

As the puppy grows older, they begin licking their mother’s muzzle. The licking between the two strengthens the bond they share. So as you can see, licking is an inborn trait.

They Are Showing Affection

Boston Terriers lick other dogs in the face a lot to show affection. They’ll also lick their owners, signifying that they love them and they are part of the pack. 

They Are Showing Submission

Dog packs are organized with a ranking system that has alphas and betas. When your Boston Terrier licks you, they are letting you know that you are part of the pack. They may even be indicating that you are the alpha.

Boston Terriers lick other dogs as a sign of respect. So it’s quite possible that when they lick their owners, it’s also a sign of respect.

They Are Cleaning 

There are enzymes in dog saliva that kill bacteria. This assists with cleaning and grooming. Your Boston Terrier will often lick himself to remove dead skin and dirt from their coat.

They Are Asking for Food

In the wild, dogs bring back meat to the den to feed the family. The puppies will lick their parents in the face to let them know they are hungry. So while your Boston Terrier is not expecting freshly killed meat, they may be telling you it’s time for a snack.

Make sure you do not encourage this behavior if you are eating. That would be classified as begging and would be inappropriate.

They Like What They Taste

Boston Terriers may also lick to taste different things. For instance, your skin is salty and your dog may enjoy the taste. They may also want to get a taste of your lotion or perfume. 

Your dog may get a little overexcited because they really like the taste. 

They Are Obsessive Compulsive

Boston Terriers can be very energetic and they require the opportunity to let that energy out. If you don’t provide enough activity, it will come out in other ways. Obsessive licking can be the result of anxiety or boredom caused by not enough activity.

There Are Underlying Medical Concerns

Excessive licking can be an indication of an underlying medical problem. When your Boston Terrier continuously licks parts of their body, it could indicate itching or pain. If you notice licking behavior that’s out of the ordinary, contact your veterinarian.

featured image for Cherry Eye Boston Terrier  

When Your Boston Terrier’s Licking Can Become Problematic

While your Boston Terrier’s licking can be quite endearing, there may come a point where it becomes problematic. It can become an inconvenience, interfering with normal bonding and playtime.

They Are Licking Harmful Things

Your Boston Terrier’s licking can actually be harmful. If they lick up food from the floor and it contains harmful foods such as onions or chocolate, they can get very sick. 

They may develop an unnatural desire to lick dirt and after licking too much, they could create a bowel blockage. They can even get a disease from another dog without ever meeting them by licking your clothing once you’ve been in contact with another pup.

They Have Medical Problems

Medical conditions can cause a severe increase in licking. Arthritis will cause licking of the feet and legs in an attempt to ease the pain. Allergies to food and the environment can cause licking of the feet and belly. 

If you notice excessive licking, especially if your dog was not normally a heavy licker, to begin with, contact your veterinarian to get to the source of the problem.

Licking is Becoming A Compulsive Habit

When your dog is bored, they can develop obsessive-compulsive licking habits, which causes them to lick anything and anyone they can reach. Your dog will have a high level of anxiety and the whole situation will be distressing for both of you.

Stopping Excessive Licking

When your Boston Terrier’s licking is becoming a problem, you can take steps to curb it. The number one method you can try is simply ignoring the behavior. By not acknowledging the licking, you are not providing any kind of reward for the behavior.

Your dog may realize this is not the way to get your attention and seek out other ways to get you to notice them. Yelling or making a big deal about the licking can actually reinforce the behavior

If licking is a way for your dog to get your attention, simply teach your dog another method of doing this. Try teaching them a new trick and use positive reinforcement to encourage them to repeat the behavior. 

When your dog just loves the taste of your skin, try putting lemon juice on it. This will deter your dog from licking you.

Remember, whenever you get the desired results, praise your dog to increase the probability of them repeating the behavior. 


Boston Terriers are very expressive dogs. They love to communicate with their families and often use licking as a means to tell their owners how they feel and what they need.

Licking is the main form of communication for Boston Terriers. They lick to show that they are hungry, provide affection, show submission, and clean themselves. It can also be a way to show that they have a medical problem or need more stimulation.

When your Boston Terrier licks too much, you need to train them to curb the behavior. Try teaching them a new trick to use instead of licking to get someone’s attention. Always use positive reinforcement when you achieve the desired results.

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