Complete Guide to Collie Licking (What It Really Means!)

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Collies mainly lick because it is calming for them and helps them to relax. They may lick to show affection, out of a bad habit (boredom) or simply because they like the taste of something. Mostly the reasons behind collie licking are harmless, however if it becomes excessive it may be time to address the problem.

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In this article we’re going to look at all the reasons a collie might lick you, what it means when they lick your face or hands, and how to train them not to lick compulsively or excessively.

Why does my collie lick me?

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Collies may lick their owner for a variety of reasons. Mainly, licking just feels good for your collie and helps them to relax. It creates a similar level of sensation to humans receiving a calming massage. However, there are a few other reasons which we will explore below.

1: They are showing affection

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When your collie licks you it is their way of showing affection. It is your collies way of giving a kiss and showing that they truly love you. Ever noticed how after time apart your collie greets you with a luscious lick? Well chances are they missed you and licking is your collies way of simply saying ‘I love you’.

Showing affection through licking runs into your collies lupine ancestors. Wolves will often lick other pack members after a hunt to welcome them back to the group. Your collie is doing the same and welcoming you back to the pack with a slobbery smooch.

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2: They are trying to gauge your mood

When we sweat, we release pheromones. Your collie is so smart they can actually decode these pheromones and understand how you are feeling. The ability to do this allows your collie to alter their behavior based on your mood.

Ever noticed that your collie keeps their distance when you’re mad but will snuggle up close when you’re calm and relaxed? Your collie can gain an understanding into human emotions through licking and as a result it impacts their behavior.

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3: You taste Good

Collies may lick you because they actually enjoy your salty sweat. Ever noticed your collie is all over you licking your face after you’ve exercised? Well, the salt on our skin actually tastes pretty good to our canine companions and they just cant resist!

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4: They are showing empathy

Have you ever pretended to cry and your collie immediately comes over to check you’re ok by offering a nuzzle or a sympathetic lick? Collies can actually feel empathy towards their owners when they are feeling upset or even stressed.

Licking you is your collies way of saying ‘I know how you feel’ and all they want to do is try to boost your mood with a little lick. In this instance, licking can actually be comforting for both collie and human in equal measure.

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5: They are being submissive

Your collie may be showing their submission to you when they lick you. This relates back to their wolf ancestors where the more dominant pack members would be shown respect and honor by being licked.

Your collie might be licking you because they see you as the alpha of their pack and licking you is their way of telling you they respect you as their leader.

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6: They Want food

In the wild, pups from wild dogs will lick the muzzle of their mother so she regurgitates food from her hunt. Your collie could be licking your face in the hope you may regurgitate some tasty treats for them.

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Your collie may also be more ‘licky’ after you have finished a meal. This is because they can smell the food from you and are simply trying to get a tasty morsel straight from your mouth!

What does it mean when my collie licks my face?

Collies can often favor your face as prime licking potential!

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Although this is harmless, many people don’t appreciate uninvited slobbery surprises (especially on their face). Lets explore a few reasons your collie sees your face as fair game to lick below.

Luna sees a fresh face as a perfect licking prospect!

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1: Your collie licks your face because they want food

Your greedy collie may be looking for food if they lick your face. This derives from the early stages of puppyhood where pups lick their mothers muzzle to communicate they are hungry.

This also relates to wild dogs who regurgitate their food to feed their pups. The pups will lick their mothers face to encourage the regurgitation. Your collie could be licking your face hoping you regurgitate some scrumptious surprises.

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2: Your collie licks your face to show their submission

Submissive dogs often groom the leader of the pack so if you notice your collie is licking your face a lot, they could simply be trying to help you look your best! It is your collies way of showing you they accept you as their leader and is their way of being respectful towards you.

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3: Your collie licks your face for attention

You may be able to ignore a light lick of your hand or foot but when it comes to your face, well, good luck ignoring that! Collies are smart and know you can’t ignore them licking your face!

If your collie is regularly licking your face they may be feeling neglected and are after some extra attention.

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Collies are super sensitive and highly emotional dogs so if your dog is licking your face try playing with them or giving them or petting them. They could just be after some extra attention.

Why does my collie lick my hand?

If your collie licks your hand a lot, you and your collie probably have a really deep bond and are highly connected with each other. Licking your hand is your collies way of calming themselves down and its reassuring for your collie to know that you are so close.

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Hand licking is a submissive behavior and your collie may be looking for reassurance if they are licking your hand. So give them a hug and a good old pet to show them that you are there to stay and will never abandon them.

Collies are highly emotional and sometimes need a little extra love, so if you notice they’re licking your hand more often make sure you show them how much you love and appreciate having them as part of your pack.

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Why do collies lick the carpet?

The most likely reason your collie is licking the carpet is because something tasty was spilled and your collie wants a piece of the pie. They are like a four legged hoover and will happily scour the carpet for lost crumbs as a spontaneous snack.

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Collies may also be licking the carpet out of frustration or boredom. They are one of the smartest dogs on the planet and need a lot of mental stimulation to keep them happy. Make sure you are satisfying your collies need to ‘work’ by giving them a job to do. Read more about ‘Mental Stimulation Ideas For Collies’ here.

If your collie is only licking the carpet when you’re not around, they may be suffering from separation anxiety. Carpet licking can help them cope with their anxiety and reduce their stress levels but in these instances its always advised to consult a collie behavior expert.

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Why does my collie lick their paw?

As a working breed, your collies paws and joints go through a lot each day! Have you ever walked for hours on end and craved a foot massage? Your collie is the same!

They may be licking their paws as a self massage the same way humans will rub their muscles when they ache.

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Collies may lick their paws as a way to make them feel better and help them cope with feeling of anxiety. Collies are more susceptible to anxiety than other breeds, especially if they are separated form their human pack for long periods.

If you think your collie is licking their paws because of anxiety you should always consult a collie behavior expert.

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Collies suffering from boredom may also lick their paws as a form of entertainment. If they have nothing to occupy their busy minds then they will turn to anything for some fun and this can include licking their paws much to their owners annoyance.

You can read more about ways to keep your collies entertained to help prevent paw licking in our ‘Mental Stimulation Ideas For Collies’ article.

If you notice your collie is licking their paws more often it is always best to consult a vet to rule out any serious medical reasons.

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Why is my collie licking and chewing their fur?

If your collie has just recently started to lick or chew their fur they may be suffering from an allergy. You may notice your collie seems itchy after visiting a new place, running in long grass or playing in water.

The likelihood is, something in the environment is irritating their skin and they are licking themselves to relieve the itch. This behavior may be more noticeable in spring and summer months as just like humans, collies can skin can be irritated by high pollen levels.

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Your collie may be suffering from pain if they are licking their fur, especially at their joints. In this instance its always best to consult a vet to rule out any medical reasons your collie may be licking or chewing at their fur first, by taking a trip to your vet.

Another possible cause of your collie licking or chewing at their fur is they may have a tick, fleas or mites. These parasites irritate your collies skin and they will lick and chew their fur in an attempt to rid themselves from them. However, in this case you must consult a vet for effective treatment.

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Your collie may also be licking or chewing their fur for attention, especially if you react to try and stop them every time. Your collie will like this game of licking for attention and will never quit until they feel their happiness levels are fulfilled and they are receiving adequate attention. If you think this is the case, check out our ‘Needy Behavior And How To Deal With It’ guide.

Collies Excessive Licking

Excessive licking can become unpleasant for you and your pooch who is trying to communicate with you non verbally. There are a variety of reasons your collie may exhibit excessive licking behaviors.

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Licking is your collies way of communicating with you however what they are trying to say may not always be so clear. Let’s look at some possible reasons behind collies’ excessive licking:

1: Collies Lick Excessively when They’re Anxious

Collies are more prone to suffering from anxiety than other dog breeds and licking you is your collies way of telling you they missed you. If your collie is excessively licking you especially after a period of separation they may be suffering from anxiety.

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Collies are pack animals and form such a close connection to their owners that they may feel neglected and abandoned if they are continually having long periods alone. If your collie is showing an urgency to lick you when you return home chances are they are just craving some interaction with their favorite human.

2: Collies Lick Excessively when They’re hungry

If your collie is excessively licking you (especially your face), this could be them telling you they are hungry. This stems from their wild dog ancestors where pups would lick their mother to encourage her to regurgitate food for them.

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If your collie is excessively licking their food bowl (even after being fed) this is their way of telling you they are still hungry!

Most humans enjoy scrumptious snacks throughout the day and your collie is no different. Excessively licking their bowl is their way of indicating they want more food or a tasty treat!

Read our Collie diet guide to ensure your collie is receiving the correct quantity of food.

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Luna doesn’t bother licking your face and just goes straight for the plate.

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3: Your collie might want your help with something

Excessive licking may be a sign your collie needs your help in some way. This can include wanting to go for a walk, needing the toilet or just craving some extra love and attention.

Collies are completely dependent on their owners and licking is their way of telling you they need something that you have not yet provided.

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4: Your collie may just need some space

Although not highly likely, it is possible your collie will give you a solitary lick as a way of telling you they want their own space. If your collie licks you then moves away its an indication they want to be alone and you should leave your collie to themselves.

How to stop collies from excessively licking you

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Excessive licking can become a nuisance especially to owners who don’t appreciate a slobbery kiss every two seconds.

Luckily, collies are super smart and its easy to train them to stop excessive licking. However if all of the methods below fail then it’s best to visit a vet to rule out any underlying health reasons.

Here are six methods to stop your collie licking you:

1: ignore them

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If your collie is licking for attention then ignoring their unwanted behavior is one of the best things you can do.

Walking into another room when your collie starts their licking frenzy will make it easier to ignore as it’s impossible not to engage with them whist they cover you with slobber, so physically removing yourself from your collie will help prevent unwanted licking.

Collies are smart and know how to press your buttons to get a reaction (good or bad) so if your collie licking for attention the best solution is actually to do nothing at all. They will quickly catch on that excessive licking doesn’t equate to excessive attention.

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2: Go for a walk

Now, this may be stating the obvious but if your collie is walking they can’t be licking! Make sure your collie is receiving enough physical exercise each day and aim for 2 hours off leash walking as a daily minimum.

Your collie could be suffering from boredom and finding pleasure in excessive licking as they have not had ample opportunity to burn off their energy. Going for a long walk will tire your collie out so they hopefully won’t have the energy to lick excessively on their return.

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3: meet their basic needs

Does your collie have water? Have they been fed? Do they need the toilet? Are they too hot or even too cold?

You are solely responsible for your collies welfare and their excessive licking could be an indication that one of their basic needs is not being met. Check you have provided everything your collie requires as it could be something as simple as wanting some fresh water that’s causing their excessive licking.

4: reward good/calm behavior

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Collies are people pleasers. They love nothing more than to make their owners happy by completing a ‘job’. Training your collie to sit and lie down for extended periods of time is teaching them to be calm. Reward this behaviour immediately and continually.

Collies pick things up pretty quickly and soon they will realise that following these calming commands is way more fun and engaging than excessive licking.

5: Use a deterrent

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If your collies excessive licking is towards the carpet or another household item you may want to invest in an anti chew spray.

Using this spray will help prevent your collie from excessively licking items which it is applied on as they do not appreciate the taste. This could be a quick fix to your collies ludicrous licking!

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6: Provide mental stimulation

As one of the smartest dog breeds on the planet, collies require a lot of mental stimulation. Without adequate stimulation to engage their minds collies can quickly become stressed or suffer from boredom and look for other ways to entertain themselves.

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They may find that excessively licking either you, themselves or something else is more entertaining than doing nothing. Unlike us humans, collies would prefer to have an endless list of jobs to complete and the idea of a lazy day is just not on their radar!

Provide your collie with mental stimulation toys and activities to keep their minds on completing a task and off their love of licking! If you are looking for inspiration, check out our ‘Mental Stimulation Ideas For Collies’.

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How do I know what my collie means when they lick me?

Collies can give different kinds of licks which will mean different things. You will know your collie better than anyone and their body language should give you a clear indication of what the lick might mean.

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Slow, long lasting licking is usually a collies way of simply showing affection. It usually happens when they are most relaxed and snuggled up close. It is their way of telling you they love you.

Frantic licking usually mean your collie is super excited. This could be the type of ‘kisses’ you get after time apart because your collie is so excited to see you again! This type is licking may be accompanied by your collie excitedly jumping about or playfully pouncing.

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One to watch out for is a lick followed by your collie removing themselves physically. This could be an indication your collie is not feeling 100% and you should investigate this further as they may be feeling sad. If you are worried your collie may be sad check out ‘Why is my Collie Sad? How To Cheer Them Up‘.

Luna seizes any opportunity to give you a quick ‘kiss’

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Do collies lick more than other breeds?

Collies are a ‘licky’ breed. They love to lick their owners because unlike other dog breeds collies make such a deep and strong connection with their humans they will do anything to feel close to them, both physically and spiritually.

Collies are very affectionate towards their owners and love nothing more than to be closer than possible. Personal space is not a thing and licking you is just part of the package when owning a collie. It is their way of showing you affection as well as making themselves feel calm and at peace.

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So, in summary, yes collies do lick more than other breeds. They have formed such a strong connection with humans over the years that its inherently in their nature to seek comfort and reassurance from their owners and they do this through providing slobbery surprises.

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About the author:

About the author:

Hollie and Border Collie


Howling and Growling Editor


Howling and Growling Editor

I'm an experienced collie owner from Scotland and the original founder of Howling and Growling. Wherever I go, my beloved collie Luna is never far behind!

Learn More about me and Luna's story on the about page!