Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince is a partner at Elmhurst Animal Care Center in Elmhurst, Illinois. In this role, Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince provides preventative care services and other treatments for a variety of pets. The team at Elmhurst Animal Care Center works with patients to help them understand dog behaviors, especially strange ones like licking ears.
Ear-licking behavior is largely motivated by a dog’s pack mentality. Licking ears expresses affection, respects, and dedication to the pack through mutual grooming. At the same time, other factors contribute to this behavior, such as a predilection for flavor of earwax. Dogs often use their tongues to explore the environment, and they can learn that it is a flavor they enjoy.
If a dog suddenly becomes obsessed with another dog’s ear, owners should take note since an ear infection or some other discharge could be the reason.
In general, licking ears is harmless. However, excessive licking can case moisture to build in the ear canal, which leads to other issues. For that reason, owners should discourage the behavior by using distractions like toys or treats to break a dog’s concentration.