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Why Do Chihuahuas Lick So Much?

Have you noticed excessive licking behavior in your beloved chihuahua pet?

Have you ever wondered why your pooch seems to do this so incessantly?

If so, you are not alone.

This is a regular question and concern shared by thousands of people who own this breed.

To help shed some light on this important subject, in this article we will list and explain a number of reasons why chihuahuas tend to lick so much.

We will also highlight some tactics on how you can address each of these reasons when intervention is appropriate.

The Many Reasons Chihuahuas Lick So Much

If you own a chihuahua, one of the potentially annoying behaviors in which your pet engages is licking – and not just licking your legs.

Whether they are licking you or another family member, another pet in the house or licking themselves, it seems the chihuahua’s tongue is always hard at work.

In some cases, this licking represents a very obvious feeling: affection.

Chihuahuas are a very affectionate breed, and they typically show this affection by licking those who look after them.

However, this licking conduct, especially when the behavior becomes almost constant, is not always a sign of affection.

In fact, in some cases it could point to a deeper issue that may need to be addressed, either medically or behaviorally.

In addition to affection, here are just some of the reasons your chihuahua is so intent on licking everything in sight.

Anxiety and Nervousness

Of all the dog breeds commonly found in this country, the chihuahua is definitely one of the most prone to anxious and nervous behavior.

Given their genetic makeup and some very distinct biological factors that are too numerous to mention here, the chihuahua is a dog that always seems to be on high alert.

They tend to notice everything around them, and when that watchfulness encounters something new or intimidating, a feeling of anxiety can quickly set in—anxiety that often takes the form of nonstop licking, among other behaviors (chewing, urinating, etc.).

In dogs, the act of licking can help to release special brain chemicals known as endorphins.

These endorphins promote a sense of euphoria and well-being in dogs, so it’s no wonder why they would engage in licking when they are most anxious or distressed.

If the anxiety in your chihuahua is acute and tied to a very specific event—like fireworks going off on the 4th of July—there is usually no cause for action on your part.

Anxiety such as this will pass when the event has concluded.

However, if your dog is showing signs of chronic anxiety, exhibiting signs and symptoms for an extended period of time, you may need to intercede.

Certain types of dog trainers specialize in helping your pet cope with anxiety, including cases of separation anxiety.

Moreover, your vet may be able to offer some medical solutions that can help relax your chihuahua and put a stop to all that nervous licking.

Grooming Behavior

Although we usually associate grooming with cats, some dog breeds, including the chihuahua, are known to be very fastidious groomers, licking themselves and other dogs as a way to ensure cleanliness.

Experts are not exactly sure why chihuahuas are so prone to this form of licking, but it is usually nothing to worry about.

In fact, as your pet grows older, some of this grooming behavior will usually dwindle in frequency.

Irritated Skin

Chihuahuas, being a dog breed that originated in Mexico, have very thin, fine coats.

This helps them stay cool in the warmer summer months, but in the more frigid winter months, when humidity is typically at its lowest point, the chihuahua’s skin can become very dry and irritated.

Because of this irritation, they are known to lick themselves in an attempt to soothe what ails them.

Ironically, this licking can often make the condition even worse, and can therefore cause the skin to become raw and infected.

If you believe your chihuahua is suffering from dry and/or irritated skin, you should definitely take them to your trusted veterinarian.

There are many steroidal and non-steroidal treatments for dry skin in dogs, including topical ointments and systemic medications.

Simple Boredom

As you sit on the sofa, watching TV, surfing the web, reading or gaming, your mind remains occupied with whatever activity you are enjoying.

Your chihuahua, on the other hand, has very little with which to occupy his psyche, so he may turn to licking as a way to distract himself.

Chihuahuas are a very active breed.

Thus, when they are not able to run and play outdoors, the simple boredom they feel may drive them to lick—lick you or themselves.

If boredom is the culprit behind your pet’s licking affliction, try buying them a toy or two to help occupy their mind.

Also, make sure you are providing plenty of opportunities for exercise and play.


Finally, you have no doubt heard the phrase a “dog licking its wounds.”

Well, if your chihuahua is constantly licking himself, it could be a sign of pain.

This is where it pays to be extra vigilant as a pet owner.

As we mentioned earlier, certain climatic conditions can sometimes wreak havoc on a chihuahua, leading to dry skin, irritation and, in the worst of cases, open sores.

Allergies, which chihuahuas are particularly prone to, can also cause skin problems; and other environmental conditions or accidents can similarly result in your dog becoming wounded.

Add to that the possibility of dental problems—sore or infected teeth or gums—and you get a lot of possible reasons for the licking you are witnessing.

Being the smallest breed of dog in the world comes with some distinct advantages, but it also has its drawbacks.

Chihuahuas are particularly prone to hormonal disorders and skin problems, all of which can cause your pet a great deal of pain if they are not rapidly treated.

Therefore, chihuahuas should be seen by your vet on a regular basis to ensure that the health problems to which they are vulnerable are not causing them pain.

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National Canine Research Association of America