Why Do Dogs Lick Their Private Areas Featured Image

Have you ever asked yourself, “Why do dogs lick their private areas?” 

Animals have a much more natural approach when it comes to grooming themselves.

Domestic pets, such as cats and dogs, may not always have the opportunity to bathe like humans, and that’s where their tongue comes in handy. 

Dogs can clean themselves by licking their fur, paws, in-betweens, face, and even private parts or genital areas.

Licking themselves is a normal and natural behavior, but why do they lick their private areas aside from grooming?

Let's face it. Dogs licking their private parts may not always be an appropriate sight, but let’s not blame our dogs for their natural instincts.

This behavior is only a result of a natural response to how they feel and maybe their solution to their dilemma. 

To know whether your dog's behaviour is normal or if it may indicate some underlying condition, read more to understand why your dog is licking their private area!

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Private Areas

7 Reasons Why Do Dogs Lick Their Private Areas

There are many possible reasons why dogs lick their private parts. The most simple answer is that they lick themselves to stay clean.

Male and female dogs will lick their genitals after urinating. They will also clean their anal region after pooping if feces are stuck in their fur.

Unfortunately, excessive licking can mean they suffer from health issues such as allergies, UTIs, etc.

Below, we've compiled a list of possible reasons why dogs lick their private areas:


As discussed above, grooming is a normal part of their routine, especially after urinating or pooping.

Unlike humans who use wet wipes, tissue, or bidet, male and female dogs will lick their genitals to keep themselves clean.

Dogs In Heat

Dogs in heat are pretty easy to catch since many obvious signs exist. And one of the common signs for females is excessive licking of the genital region.

If you own a female dog, you'll notice that they are more receptive to male dogs trying to sniff their butt.

Other signs include straw-colored discharge from the vulva, agitation, excessive urination, and a change in tail position.


Allergies can cause itchiness in the skin. The itch may be felt anywhere around the body.

Dogs with allergies will excessively lick or bite themselves when they feel an itch, especially during an allergy attack. 

Owners may inspect their dog’s skin for visible changes such as inflammation, rashes, or discoloration.

Some changes in behavior, such as excessive licking, biting, and diarrhea, can also mean the dog is experiencing an allergy.

If the owner suspects their dog has an allergy, seek medical help immediately.

Impacted Anal Glands

When anal glands are blocked, infected, or ruptured, the anal glands become inflamed and impacted, making it hard to secrete the glands inside.

This can result in the gland releasing a pungent abscess discharge.

This condition can be very painful for the dog. They will try to appease the pain by licking the anus and surrounding area.

If left over time, this can spread and cause severe damage to the rectum. 

If owners suspect their dogs have impacted anal glands, it is best to have them treated immediately. If the condition worsens, the risk of surgery may occur. 

Skin Infection 

Bacterial and fungal skin infections may be caused by constant exposure to moisture through open wounds or an immune system deficiency.

Owners may search for itchiness, hair loss, inflammation of the skin, pustules, fluid discharge such as blood or pus, and if there is a change in the dog’s skin odor. 

They should have their dog immediately checked if it is suspected of skin infection, as some skin infections can also be contagious to humans or other pets. 


If the dogs feel anxious or stressed, they may find a way to stimulate themselves to refocus from the discomfort.

Licking themselves and even their private areas may even help. This can help them stay distracted enough but still alert if any sudden incident occurs.

Pet owners can help ease their dog’s anxiety by making them more comfortable. Keep them entertained by using their favorite toys or a cloth with a familiar scent. 

Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary Tract Infection is caused by bacteria from external sources traveling inside the urethra.

Dogs with urinary tract infections may have a harder time when it comes to urinating. 

As they attempt to urinate, they strain their muscles due to pain and difficulty releasing urine. Licking the genital area is their way to ease the discomfort.

Please be mindful not to self-diagnose your pets as it may aggravate their condition.

Remember to seek professional medical advice if your pet is experiencing any of the conditions. 

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Genitals

Is It Normal For Dogs To Lick Their Private Area?

Yes! Dogs licking their private area is a very natural and normal activity.

Licking themselves and their private area is a way for them to clean and ease discomfort or pain by themselves. 

It can also be a big indicator of how they’re feeling. If you observe this behavior along with their physique, this can help determine if they’re feeling well or not. 

But of course, there is a limitation regarding the frequency of licking their private parts. 

When Should I Be Worried?

Unlike humans, dogs cannot talk about how they feel, whether anxious or in pain. There may be changes in their appearance or behavior whenever they feel something is off.

It is our duty as owners to take notice of our pet’s condition if they’re feeling alright or a little under the weather.

Here are some symptoms owners should look out for:

  • Visible discomfort when lying on the stomach
  • Excessive licking and rubbing of the genital area
  • The genital area is prolapsing
  • Frequent urination
  • Difficulty in urinating
  • Inflammation of the genital and the area around it
  • Blood, pus, and mucus discharge on the genital area
  • Dry genital area
  • Discoloration of the genital area
  • Hard or soft lump in the genital  area
  • Enlargement of the genital area

If any of the symptoms are present, you should seek medical help for your dog immediately.

Some conditions may lead to secondary infections or diseases while some may even permanently affect your dog’s health. 

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Crotch

Why Do Male Dogs Lick Their Private Parts?

Male dogs usually lick themselves to clean their private parts. However, there are also possible health problems that can cause this behavior.

One of the biggest causes of excessive genital licking in male dogs is abnormal preputial discharge.

When a male dog releases smegma (a build-up of thick, white, cheesy substance made from oils, dead skin cells, etc.), they often lick the discharge to clean the area.

This build-up can sometimes form in the prepuce area (skin surrounding and covering the penis).

If the preputial discharge and licking become excessive, owners should have their dogs checked in case of an underlying disease.

The top causes of a preputial discharge are UTIs, prostate cancer, and urinary incontinence.

Another possible cause of excessive genital licking is the inflammation of the penis or prepuce, called Balanoposthitis. Physical trauma infections or tumors cause balanoposthitis

Lastly, Paraphimosis is another possible cause of why male dogs lick their private areas

Paraphimosis is the exposure and inability of the penis to retract to the preputial skin.

Paraphimosis can be very discomforting and painful due to dehydration or inflammation of the penis, which causes dogs to try to relieve the pain by licking the genital area. 

Why Do Female Dogs Lick Their Private Parts?

Female dogs usually lick their private parts to clean themselves like male dogs. For instance, they might lick their genitals after peeing or pooping.

Female dogs also lick their genitals more frequently when in heat.

Unfortunately, there are still other possible health issues that can cause abnormal genital licking in female dogs.

First, the dog may be experiencing an estrous cycleWhen female dogs begin their estrous cycle, they often show signs such as engorgement of the vulva and vaginal discharge.

Female dogs often lick themselves in response to this. This may also mean they are coming into heat, which begins the cycle. 

Another possible cause is Pyometra. It is a secondary infection due to hormonal changes in the female reproductive tract.

Often in adult female dogs, vaginal discharge occurs. This can mean their estrous cycle has begun or can also mean infections or disease. 

Regardless of the cause, female dogs will always lick their genital area if there is a discharge. This may mean they are cleaning it or they are relieving pain.  

Lastly, Vaginitis is the inflammation of the vaginal tissue or vestibule. Puppies experiencing their first heat cycle experience vaginitis.

Even though it can be treated on its own in some cases, it is still best advised to consult with your vet to prevent it from worsening over time. 

A few common symptoms of vaginitis are vaginal discharge, itching, and licking of the vaginal area.

Why Do Female Dogs Lick Their Privates

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I stop my dog from licking his private area?

Dogs licking their private parts is normal and acceptable since it's part of their grooming. However, the problem is when it becomes more frequent.

Monitor your pup and consult your vet when your dog excessively licks their genitals.

How do I know if my dog is in heat?

Commonly the first sign of a dog in heat is a bloody vaginal discharge.

Other signs include a swollen vulva, aggressive behaviors, excessive licking of the vaginal area, mating behavior, and a switch tail position.

Why does my dog's mouth shake after licking other dogs' privates?

If you've noticed your dog's mouth shake after licking other dogs' private parts, there's no need to worry.

Dogs' mouths will sometimes shake after they've licked something. It is commonly an impulsive reaction. Remember that these animals have a stronger sense of taste and smell.

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Private Areas: Final Thoughts

Dogs, naturally curious animals, tend to lick many things. However, why do dogs lick their private areas?

Have you ever seen male dogs lick their penis and female dogs lick their vulva? Well, there are plenty of possible reasons why they do this.

The simplest reason is that it is part of their grooming. Dogs generally lick their private areas after they pee or poop.

Unfortunately, excessive genital licking can be a sign of various health concerns.

For instance, it can be caused by allergies, impacted anal glands, skin infections, stress, urinary tract infections, or dogs being in heat.

Call your most trusted vet if you've noticed that your dog is licking its private parts more frequently.

Your vet will be able to determine the cause and come up with treatment as soon as possible.


Toby loves spending time with his dog and two cats. They are the best stress reliever and affectionate pets, especially his Belgian Malinois, Shawie. Shawie's favorite activity is running or jogging. But their go-to spot is to chill and swim around a nearby river.