Why Do Yorkies Lick So Much? (10 Reasons)

All dog breeds will at one time or another lick …themselves, owners, other canines, and perhaps something tasty, but Yorkies merit special recognition when it comes to licking.

Canines lick to clean themselves and groom, as they will lick any wounds or injuries present. While licking is normal for canines, excessive licking may be hinting at something else.

Exaggerated licking may indicate a health issue or an unhappy pet and can potentially cause further damage. Below are several of the primary factors that may be causing your Yorkie’s excessive licking.

Why Do Yorkies Lick So Much

1. Affection

If the licking is centered on you, or any members of your family, your little Yorkie is probably communicating its affection for you.

Perhaps it is also an invitation for your attention, or your dog may sense that you are stressed and decide to comfort you.

2. Allergies

This shouldn’t be so difficult to identify if allergies are indeed the problem. When Yorkies continually lick bellies, paws, their back, or haunches, this is a strong indication of an allergy or skin condition. Just like us canines are at risk for allergies depending on their individual sensitivities. 

Continual paw licking is a very good indicator of the presence of allergies and intolerances. It may be as simple as a food intolerance for example to grains or cereals in kibble, or it may be a product you are applying to the grass in your yard, such as a fertilizer or herbicide.

It’s important to note when your dog begins licking obsessively. Is it shortly after eating or when outside in your yard or on a walk?

If you notice this behavior after an outdoor break, it’s probably a chemical issue from a lawn treatment product. You can wash paws at the end of your outdoor activity to help your dog.

If you suspect allergies, consult your vet and bring all the necessary info with you such as what you feed your dog, and any kind of treats that you bestow regularly. Also, include the kinds of common vegetation in your area for consideration.

3. Boredom

Yorkies boredom

When dogs are bored, they can become mischievous or depressed, or anxious. But like people they can develop nervous habits just like people who bite lips, fingernails, or pen tips. Your dog may develop a similar nervous tick with excessive licking. 

4. Curiosity

Dogs are notorious for their exceptional sense of smell with over 100 million sensory receptors in the nasal cavity alone compared to our measly six million. But often when investigating a new source of interest, they may not limit themselves to just smell, and lick as well.

5. Dental Issues

Gum discomfort due to an excessive build-up of tartar on your Yorkies teeth can lead to repeated licking as your pup tries to clean teeth and soothe gums.

To avoid this, clean your dog’s teeth several times weekly from an early age to get it used to dental cleaning, and offer dental chews.

If your Yorkie is older consider taking your dog to the vet for periodic dental cleaning or place your dog on a kibble specifically indicated for oral care. Good dental care will help to prevent more serious issues and improve doggy breath, too.

6. Fleas

If your Yorkie has picked up fleas, you may not have noticed initially, but on closer inspection should be able to spot them.

Dogs that have contracted fleas tend to lick themselves quite obsessively due to itching. You might observe your dog scratching a lot and perhaps even chewing at fur, paws, tail, belly, and legs.

To look for fleas, check your dog’s armpits and belly area where they should be more apparent. The options for a solution are multiple, including a flea bath, flea drops, and flea collars to name a few.

7. Health Issues

If you can exclude other issues on this list, then there may be an underlying health issue at fault. Directly related health issues that can manifest themselves through excessive licking include:

1.) Dermatitis or inflamed skin due to allergies, pest infestations, or even autoimmune diseases.

2.) Hormone imbalance can lead to conditions such as Cushing’s Disease and an excess of cortisol. If thyroid hormones are low or lacking, red spots and alopecia may result along with licking.

3.) Intestinal maladies such as ingesting a foreign object or pancreatitis can be signaled through obsessive licking.

4.) Lesions or growths in the mouth can cause an increase in salivation causing your Yorkie to lick and swallow repeatedly. 

5.) Pain may be demonstrated by your Yorkie repeatedly licking a specific area.

Get to your Vet promptly if you suspect something serious such as an underlying health problem.

8. A Habit

Dogs, like people, develop habits, and sometimes bad ones. A puppy that was encouraged to lick because it was small and cuddly may continue doing so as an adult, even if the puppy stage is long over.

Yorkies develop licking habit

If you find this activity irritating, you’ll need patience and a method in order to break your dog from this habit. Common tools used to reeducate include distraction with positive reinforcement for the  desired behavior,

9. Illness

If Yorkies are feeling nauseous, they may begin licking their noses and around their mouths in an attempt to avoid vomiting. Perhaps they ingested something that didn’t agree with them or have caught an intestinal bug. 

Make sure your dog has access to abundant fresh water and move them to a location where they are free to upchuck if necessary. If the situation persists, a trip to your vet is necessary to safeguard your dog’s health.

10. Tasty and Salty

Your Yorkie may simply like the way you taste. Dogs have several taste receptors including those that perceive salt and acid, both of which are present on our skin. Your Pooch may like licking you or family members for this reason.

My Yorkie Is Developing Inflamed Bald Spots

If your dog has already inflicted damage, to prevent your Yorkie from hurting itself further try using an Elizabethan collar or the plastic cone that you can attach to your dog’s collar.

While these collars get the job done in preventing your dog from licking excessively, they do inhibit both drinking, feeding, and your Yorkie’s field of vision.

An alternative is a “recovery” collar similar to a travel pillow that will impede licking while not affecting other activities so adversely. Of course, your dog can deflate this kind of collar with a bite.

Training Your Yorkie Not to Lick

If there is no underlying health issue, your best option is to train your dog not to lick so obsessively. You can consult a professional dog trainer or arm yourself with patience and use basic training techniques.

Training Tips

When your Yorkie embarks on undesired licking, consider these options for dissuading your pooch:

1.) Give a firm NO command while making eye contact. Do not interrupt your gaze, wait for your pup to do so.

2.) Get up and leave. In this way, you communicate to your dog that licking is an undesired behavior that will result in you placing distance between you and your canine best friend.

3.) Use a non-toxic pet-safe spray product to dissuade your dog from licking objects.

4.) When your dog responds positively and interrupts licking, praise your pooch and offer small treats as a reward.

5.) Be consistent when dealing with licking. Once you have begun training, keep it up until your Yorkie has stopped all excessive licking.

A Final Thought

The fundamental action you must take is to identify the cause of excessive licking. Have your veterinarian rule out any underlying illnesses or medical issues.

For bad behavior and habits, arm yourself with patience and love and get to work. Your Yorkie will enjoy the time and attention you dedicate and want to please you.

Susan R Elliston

I have over 11 years of experience as a vet working with a wonderful variety of species of innocent and lovely animals. Whilst I still work two days a week for a local practice, I realized that I could help more people by sharing my knowledge and experience with my readers.