• Fri. May 24th, 2024

Why Is My Maltese Licking So Much? 14 Likely Reasons


May 23, 2023
Why Is My Maltese Licking So Much? 14 Likely Reasons


Dr. Luqman Javed Photo

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

The Maltese is a great little dog that can make a loving pet. It also has plenty of quirks that make it interesting and intriguing. One such quirk is that the breed does tend to lick more than other breeds. Whether it is licking itself, you, or inanimate objects, it is likely not a negative sign, and there could be any of a long list of reasons, but you should look for other signs, symptoms, and possible indications that your dog might be suffering in some way.

Below, we have included 14 likely reasons that your Maltese is licking so much.


The 14 Possible Reasons Your Maltese Is Licking so Much

1. Affection

Licking you or any other person or animal can be a sign of affection. If your Maltese runs up to you when you get home and licks your hand or tries to lick your face, it is likely a sign that they have missed you and are pleased that you are home.

Maltese licking the face of woman
Image Credit: Creativa Images, Shutterstock

2. Allergic Reaction

Allergies can be a real pain for dogs, and one of the symptoms of an allergic reaction is a rash or skin irritation. Your dog’s natural defense against injury or damage to the skin is to try licking it. Unfortunately, this can make things worse and may exacerbate a rash or reaction. Look for other signs such as streaming eyes, excessive drinking, or an upset stomach.

3. Anxiety

Dogs can suffer anxiety just the same as people, but they have different ways of reacting to and attempting to combat the anxiety. One such way is to lick. Whether it reminds them of their mother licking them when they were young or it simply takes their mind off whatever is making them anxious, this could be the cause. Consider the context of your dog’s licking. If it licks a lot when there are loud noises or when left alone, it may be a sign of anxiety.

sad Maltese puppy lying under white warm blanket on a bed at home
Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

4. Attention

If your Maltese is licking you, it may simply be trying to get your attention. If you usually react to your dog licking itself, it may do it again to try and get your attention. If your dog is licking you and it is approaching mealtime or time for a walk, it is likely just trying to get your attention.

5. Bored

A bored Maltese will look for ways to entertain itself or take its mind off the boredom. One way of doing this is to lick itself. Alternatively, your dog might be licking you because it is bored and wants you to play or take it for a walk.

Young maltese dog in a meadow
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

6. Comfort

Licking you can be reassuring for a dog. They know you’re there and that you’re close to them, and it is also reminiscent of pack behavior. The Maltese Dog thrives on human companionship, so this is a likely cause of excessive or unwanted licking.

7. Communication

Dogs can’t talk in the same way as humans, which means they have a limited but still quite effective range of communication techniques. If your dog feels that other methods of communication aren’t working, it may resort to licking to communicate some message to you. This is another occasion when you need to consider the context to try and work out what your dog is attempting to say.

Maltese dog likes the owner to show him his tongue to imitate him
Image Credit: Banedeki, Shutterstock

8. Excitement

When your dog gets excited, it likely wants to share this excitement with you, and one way it might do this is by licking you. This can also be a sign of overstimulation or over-excitement. Your dog has got itself so wound up that it is licking as a means of venting its stimulation.

9. Grooming

If your Maltese is licking itself, another animal, or even you, it could be that it is grooming the recipient. Dogs lick themselves to keep clean, as well as for other reasons, and if your dog views you as one of its packs and wants to care for you, it could try grooming you. Alternatively, it could just be licking itself as a means of cleaning itself and this is especially likely if the dog has gotten dirty or just been out.

Maltese Grooming
Image Credit: Rovsky, Shutterstock

10. Habit

If your dog licks itself, you, or objects excessively and often, it will become a habit. For example, if it started to lick furniture or the carpet when you went out to work, it may continue to do it every time you leave the house, even if it no longer really feels anxious about being left alone. You may need to train your dog to stop compulsive licking.

11. Illness

Although rare, licking can be a sign of illness. As well as licking rash sites, your Maltese may lick because it is suffering from gastrointestinal illness or because it has a toothache. Look for other symptoms and consider the general demeanor of your dog to determine whether it might be sick.

a young vet checking a maltese dog
Image Credit: Creativa Images, Shutterstock

12. Inspecting

Dogs instinctively lick the scent markings and urine of other dogs when they’re exploring their environment. Your dog may be randomly licking spots when outdoors during a walk to better assess the scents in the area around them.

13. Submission

Dogs are pack animals and dog packs have a hierarchical structure. If your Maltese views you as being above them in the pack order or it believes that you are the main caregiver (feeder), then it may lick you as a sign of submission.

Woman trains her white maltese dog in the park
Image Credit: Monika Wisniewska, Shutterstock

14. Taste

Whether it’s your sweat or the leftover remnants of the food you were just eating, your Maltese licking you could be a sign that it simply likes the taste of whatever is on your skin. If you’re worried that your dog might be licking something unhealthy, make sure you’ve washed your hands or stop them licking your skin.



Maltese dogs are fun and loving little dogs that can make great pets, but they do have some unusual quirks. They are known for being prone to licking. They are likely to lick you, themselves, and potentially even inanimate objects like furniture and carpets. Although it is usually not a sign of illness, licking can be, so you must keep an eye on the behavior and consider any other symptoms or actions.

Featured Image Credit: smrm1977, Shutterstock

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *