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Why Do Dogs Lick Their Private Area?

Most of the time dogs are a source of amusement, but sometimes they can be a source of embarrassment. Keep reading and find out all about this weird habit.


Written by Animalia Team

Dog licking himself

Most of the time dogs are a source of amusement, but sometimes they can be a source of embarrassment. You can close your eyes when your dog is eating garbage or grass, sniffing other pup’s butts, maybe even chewing poop, but licking his private parts?! Come on, what’s next? 

You may have already noticed that your dog is relatively relaxed when they’re licking their genitals and even enjoying it more in front of your guests. Are they proud of that habit or maybe just trying to make you feel embarrassed? Why do dogs do that? Keep reading and find out all about this weird habit.

Is licking private parts ever acceptable?

In the mysterious dog world, licking genitals is considered a normal cleaning behavior, For instance, after urinating. It is their version of taking a shower. In this case, licking is fast, since a quick swipe will do the job.

Dog tongue

But what about the anal area? Do they lick this place after going number 2? Well, yes, but rarely.

If they have a watery or sticky stool, they may lick that area because they believe the area needs to be tidied up. However, they never do that when they have firm bowel movements.

female dogs reach sexual maturity between 6-12 months with the arrival of their first heat. During this time you’ll notice new behaviors like intense licking of their private parts.

When is licking the genitals considered a problem

Repeated or continuous licking of the genital and urinary area may point to a medical problem. If you notice some of the following signs, you should contact your vet: 

  • Swollen or red vulva, penis, or anus
  • Existence of red bumps or pimples (pustules) on the skin
  • Modified skin color (rust or black colored)
  • Straining to urinate
  • Frequency urinating needs
  • Rubbing the anus area on the floor
  • Presence of a stinky odor
  • Discharge from vulva or penis

A comprehensive medical exam, including blood tests and urine tests, will assist in detecting your dog’s problem.

Yeast infections that lead to red bumps and cysts in the genital area, should be treated on time before they spread even more. As it is a highly sensitive area, make sure you help your dog keep that part clean. You can try cleaning it with a damp cloth, but before you do that, talk to your vet.

The most common reasons dogs lick their Private Area

Anal Gland

Both female and male dogs often lick their anus to keep it clean, but sometimes they do that because they have a severe problem.

Dogs have glands in the anal area, and licking this part could indicate a blocked anal gland. Those glands fill up with smelly fluid that is typically discharged with the stress by your canine during elimination. Once this gland becomes blocked, the irritation and discomfort your dog feels could make them lick this part excessively. 

Another sign of irritation in the private area is rubbing along the ground to get rid of the pressure related to the blocked anal gland. A vet will have to drain that gland to put an end to that annoying and painful irritation. Once the procedure is done, you will notice that your canine will no longer repeat that act. 

Blocked anal glands are a real pain in the butt (pun intended) so the faster you treat them, the faster your dog will be pain-free! 


Pesticides may also lead to private parts irritation. Your dog probably enjoys rolling in the grass but it just might be rolling in a ton of pesticides that can cause irritation to their private parts. Make a habit of regularly checking your dog for irritation in the private area, especially if their constantly licking their private parts after a visit to the park. 

Stress and fear

If your canine doesn’t stop licking those parts even after ruling out any physical problem, it might be a result of stress or fear. In this case, you can visit a dog behaviorist to ask for advice. 

What not to do

Do not punish your dog for excessive licking- remember they are only trying to soothe themselves or communicate distress, and punishments will be ineffective at addressing the cause of the behavior. Instead, be patient as you try to discover why your dog licks excessively, and once you find the cause, take steps to ease your pet’s discomfort. When the discomfort is gone, the undesirable behavior will be gone as well.


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