It’s cute until your Chihuahua starts to lick your face at every opportunity and drenches you with saliva. Here are five interesting reasons why Chihuahuas lick your face so much.
1. They Want to Show Affection
Chihuahuas aren’t called a man’s best friend by accident. They are affectionate animals that love to bond and provide companionship within their pack.
According to Stephanie Borns-Weil, a clinical instructor in animal behavior, licking could be a way for Chihuahuas to show affection to their owners. It could also be a way for Chihuahuas to appease others. Just think of licking as a form of kissing for Chihuahuas. But, why do Chihuahuas lick your face, exactly?
2. Your Puppy is Hungry
One interesting behavior observed among wild canines is when puppies lick their mother’s face. This is to get her to vomit out some food. When your puppy is licking you, it could potentially be a sign that he is hungry. Your Chi is asking you for some kind of snack.
3. Licking is a Sign of Submission
According to Dr. Susan Nelson, licking could be a sign of submission. Chihuahuas may lick other Chihuahuas that have a more dominant pack status in order to show their respect. People are no exception to this behavior. For domestic Chihuahuas, their owners are most likely considered the leader of the pack.
4. They Enjoy the Taste of Your Skin
This is a strange one but your Chihuahua could be licking you excessively because they like the taste of your skin, specifically the mineral and salt in the body’s sweat. Dr. David Dilmore states that Chihuahuas have the taste receptors to respond to the sodium/acidic content of body sweat.
5. Your Chihuahua is Bored or Stressed
Licking could be a sign that your Chihuahua is bored or stressed, especially if you have shown a lot of positive reactions (e.g petting, speaking in a positive tone) every time your Chihuahua has licked you in the past. Licking could be a form of communication for attention-deprived Chihuahuas.
A Chihuahua’s licking behavior shouldn’t be examined in isolation. You will need to take into account the whole situation to answer why Chihuahuas lick your face so much.
It could be as simple as showing affection or it could be a way for the Chihuahua to de-stress (because he is left alone at home for a long period of time).
Is it Okay for My Chihuahua to Lick My Face?
The bacteria and germs in your Chihuahua’s saliva may make you sick, and in extremely rare cases, may cause death as well. According to the CDC, Capnocytophaga is a germ common among Chihuahuas and cats. Unfortunately, this particular germ led to the death of one Chihuahua owner in June 2018.
Healthy Chihuahua owners aren’t all that likely to be affected by the occasional lick but you should still take precautions and discourage your Chihuahua from licking your face, especially due to the fact that it’s much easier for germ-carrying Chihuahua saliva to be absorbed via your mouth, eyes, and nose.
If your Chihuahua is licking you as a form of affection then you want to make sure you aren’t re-buffing his positive behavior by encouraging him to display the same level of affection in a different way. For example, every time your Chihuahua licks, you may want to teach the Chihuahua that it’s better for him to sit and be petted instead.
Is it Okay for Chihuahuas to Lick Babies?
The reason for the licking behavior could be different when a Chihuahua licks a baby’s face. Instead of a sign of submission, a Chihuahua that licks a baby’s face could be viewed as a sign of dominance.
Your Chihuahua shouldn’t be allowed to display such behavior over your baby as there’s no way of knowing how your baby or the Chihuahua will react. In worst-case scenarios, your Chihuahua (if female) may exhibit maternal behaviors and do things as if the baby is her puppy.
There’s also the health issue. Babies are much more vulnerable to the bacteria in the Chihuahua saliva because their immune system is less developed. If you have a baby at home then don’t take any risks. Keep your Chihuahua at a safe distance from your baby.
With that in mind, we hope that we have explained the lifelong question of why your Chihuahua licks your face so much.