Why Does My Dog Lick My Nose?

Dog licking man's nose

Dogs will, at some point, catch their owners off-guard with a nose lick. You could be watching television or sound asleep when suddenly you feel the wet puppy kiss on your nose. Cute and gross, dogs have reasons for the wet licks as they use them to show affection, to catch your scent, and because they learned it from their mothers. 

You may find the gesture a bit off-putting, but you will come to appreciate it once you learn more about what a dog thinks when it does it.

Why A Dog Licks Your Nose?

Five reasons exist that explain why a dog will lick your nose. It’s not as complicated as you think.

It’s instinctive

Dogs, even domesticated ones, pass things on from generation to generation that stem from the wild. Nose licking is one of those things. 

One of the puppies’ first experiences is their mother licking their nose. 

Female dogs do this after birth to get the puppies to breathe and groom them. Later, puppies will lick their mother’s nose to show submission. 

In the wild, dogs lick each other’s mouths too. This is mainly for the same reasons as puppies and mothers lick noses. It shows family affection, pack ties, and submission. 

Your dog is passing along this instinctive trait to you by licking your nose. It may serve a practical purpose, like waking you up, or it may be to ensure that you are okay if you aren’t moving. It could also be to show submission. 

Dogs may also lick your nose out of habit or routine at particular times. Whether you realize it or not, it isn’t the dog that establishes the habit or routine. It’s you. 

If your dog wakes you up every morning with a nose lick, it’s because your dog thinks that’s his job. You’ve never told him otherwise.

Some dogs choose the nose because owners repel them away if they try to lick in the mouth. The nose, to the dog, is a more acceptable form of affection. 

They want to sniff you

For dogs, licking and sniffing go together. They can obtain a lot of information from a solid lick. That could include info on whether you are well and even perhaps your mood that day. After all, dogs can smell things like alcohol or diabetes and eventually will associate that with your mood. 

Dogs also want to mix their scent with yours to create a “family scent” and licking you is one way to leave their scent on you while tasting yours. What better place to do that than the nose? It’s sticking out and it’s close.

Besides, getting close enough to your mouth and nose gives your dog a lot of other scents to figure out. They will want to know what you’ve eaten or whether you have a cold. 

Your dog is showing affection

This is the most common reason why your dog will lick your nose. Dogs have their ways of showing love and don’t always get a chance to get to your face since you are bigger. 

When the opportunity comes where they can take a quick nose lick to show you they love you, they seize the opportunity. Remember, it is born in them to show love by licking. 

Dogs put a lot of emphasis on the head. Allowing you to get close to their face shows a close bond. They feel the same way about you, so they like to lick your face and nose to demonstrate that bond.

They want your attention

Some dogs will lick your nose because it’s the easiest way to get your attention. They know you can’t possibly scold them for doing something so sweet. 

Typically, if dogs just want your attention, they will pause to see your reaction. They want to know if you are ready to give them what they want. 

Don’t ignore them. Ignoring them will guarantee another lick or maybe even a bark. 

Instead, look at your dog to determine if he wants or needs anything. Speak to him. If he wants something, chances are he will give a positive reaction and run off to whatever he is longing for as an indicator of his desires. 

Dogs can be persistent, so it’s best to attend to their needs when they ask. It could be something like needing to go outside to use the bathroom, which you don’t want to ignore for either the dog’s sake or that of your house.

Your dog likes your taste

A dog sometimes will lick one person more than another. That doesn’t always mean they like that person more. It could mean they like how they taste better than how you taste. Maybe their skin is salty or if they are a diabetic, sugary. 

While we can’t always taste those types of elements in skin, dogs are highly sensitive to it.

If a dog is licking your nose because they like the taste, they won’t stop with one lick. Chances are they will continue until you must push them away. Even if you do, don’t scold them. Instead, pet them and distract them with a toy or a treat to stop their behavior. 

This particular trait makes dogs a good choice for those with chronic diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure. Dogs can sense or taste when levels are high by the way the skin smells or tastes and can be trained to indicate when levels are rising before they are at dangerous levels. 

What If My Dog Licks the Inside of My Nose?

Yes, this is gross but your dog has a good reason for doing it. They like the taste and think you need some grooming. Remember, their mother did this at birth to get them to breathe and to groom them. 

Dogs may feel you need the same type of help. This can be particularly true if you have a cold. A dog may be drawn by the smell or think licking up in your nose will help. 

Should I Stop This Type of Behavior?

Generally, no, licking your nose is how a dog shows affection. However, some people don’t want a dog to lick their face, and most don’t want a dog to lick inside their nose. There are ways to prevent this from continuing, including:

  1. Gently holding them back from you and telling them to stop.
  2. Leaving the room and shutting the door where they are alone.
  3. Come back after a few minutes and offer them some affection.
  4. Reward them for positive behavior when they approach but don’t lick your face. 

These things will take some time and work to accomplish good results. Dogs are pretty smart and tend to catch on quickly that you will not be with them if they lick your face. 


Dogs have their expressions, and how they express themselves has been handed down since the breeds were in the wild. While they are instinctive, you can train your dog to abide by the behavior you find acceptable. A dog that associates good behavior with love and affection from you will be easier to train out of nose licking.

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