Why Do Shih Tzus Lick so Much?

why do shih tzus lick so much - black shit tzu with tongue out
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There are a few reasons why Shih Tzus lick. These tend to fall into behavioral reasons and medical reasons, so if you have been wondering why do Shih Tzus lick so much read on to learn more.

Medical Reasons for Shih Tzu Licking

There are several medical reasons your Shih Tzu may be licking all the time. 

Allergies and Skin Irritation and Dry Skin

Skin irritations, dry skin, and allergies are the most common reasons your Shit Tzu might be licking themselves all the time.

Because Shih Tzus have hair and not fur they tend to have dry skin. Their dry skin, just like yours, can become itchy and irritable. That irritation then leads to licking.

Unfortunately, the licking causes additional dryness and irritation.

Both the humidity level inside your home and out can cause dry skin. If the inside of your house is super dry or you live in an area of the country or world that is super cold in the winter months and the humidity is low as well, you may want to consider a humidifier

It will help you increase the humidity in your home which is good for you and your Shih Tzu. Allergies can also lead to licking.

Your Shih Tzus allergies can come from a lot of places, so it can be difficult to nail them down. My Shih Tzu Truman has seasonal allergies just like I do. (You can learn more about Truman at Truman’s Corner here.)

Your dog’s allergies could also come from the food you are feeding them. 

Lower quality dog foods can have fillers, added chemicals, and by-products that might lead to allergies. 

Consider trying a higher quality food such as.

You can read about the top 9 dog foods for Shih Tzus here.

black and white shih tzu licking its nose
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Pain After Surgery or Due to Arthritis

If your Shih Tzu has recently had surgery, they will want to lick the area. If it is a real issue, you will want to talk to your vet to see if they can provide you with a cone to put on their head so they can’t reach the area.

Just like people, when dogs get older they can develop arthritis as well. If their joints hurt, you may find that your Shih Tzu is licking them to help ease the pain. 

If this is the case, talk to your vet about options to help ease your Shih Tzu’s arthritis pain.

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If your Shih Tzu has an infection it can cause them to itch. They will lick the area or scratch to alleviate the itching. 

Infections can be caused by parasites, bacteria, or fungal spores. 

Parasites can include:

  • Ticks
  • Fleas
  • Mites

If your Shih Tzu is scratching a lot as well as licking, check them closely for these parasites. Dogs can also have flea allergies which will cause scratching, licking, and even pulling out of hair. 

Gastrointestinal Issues

If your Shih Tzu is licking a lot but not licking themselves, then the reason for the licking might be gastrointestinal issues.

Your dog could have an upset stomach or nausea. They lick to try and alleviate the symptoms.

Behavioral Reasons for Shih Tzu Licking

If there isn’t a medical reason for why your Shih Tzu is licking all the time, it could be behavioral or emotional.


Shih Tzus like most dogs can become stressed out if they are living in a stressful environment. They are good at picking up the feelings and emotions of the humans around them.

If you are stressed out, there is a good chance your Shih Tzu will become stressed as well.

Licking is a way that your Shih Tzu can self-soothe and make themselves feel a bit better and less stressed out.

So, if you have a highly stressed living situation, see what you can do to calm it down a bit. It will be good for you and your pup.

Loneliness and Anxiety

shih tzu puppy with orange ball licking its nose
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Your Shih Tzu may miss you more than you realize. If your dog is home alone a lot, it may suffer from separation anxiety. It is hard for you to get a good feeling about this because you’re not there.

Once you get home, the loneliness and separation anxiety is gone. 

If you live a really busy life and your Shih Tzu is alone a good deal of the time you might want to consider getting a second Shih Tzu, so yours will have some company. 

A doggie day spa is a good way for your Shih Tzu to have company when you’re at work as well.

Or you might consider having a dog walker stop by in the middle of the day, so your Shih Tzu has a chance to get out of the house, be around people and other dogs. 

It will help break up the day and your Shih Tzu will have something to look forward to instead of just sitting at home by themselves all day long.

Boredom and Self-Calming

As I’ve always said a tired dog is a good dog. If your Shih Tzu isn’t getting enough exercise to wear themselves out or enough playtime, there is a good chance they are bored. 

Bored dogs get themselves into trouble. If they have nothing to do, they can even turn to licking themselves or other items in the house just to have something to do.

Also, licking can be a self-calming mechanism. 

black shih tzu licking the face of a man with a beard
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Habit and Taste

Sometimes, Shih Tzus, just like us, get into bad habits. Once something becomes a habit, we don’t even realize we are doing it. The same is true for them.

If the licking is a habit for your Shih Tzu, do what you can to stop them and then provide them with a treat or another fun activity. 

According to Dr. Patty Khuly VMD “The bottom line is that most of the time, dogs will lick their people as a sign of affection.”

You might just taste good. Shih Tzus are affectionate and everyone, well almost everyone, loves a little kiss from their special boy or girl, but no one wants it all the time.

Your Shih Tzu might have started licking you to show affection, but decided they like the taste of the dried salt on your skin. That taste can keep them coming back for more.

I know my Truman likes to lick the inside of my shoes or sandals which is kind of gross. He used to put ice cubes in them when he was younger, but that’s another story.

In the end, it was pretty easy to stop this habit. I just don’t leave my shoes where he can reach them.

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Why Do Shih Tzus Lick Their Paws?

Typically, when a Shih Tzu licks their paws it is due to some sort of irritation such as an allergy or for an emotional reason such as being bored. 

Why Does My Shih Tzu Lick My Face?

Your skin very often has mineral salts that are left after perspiration evaporates. Your Shih Tzu likes the taste of these salts, so they lick your face, or other areas of your body, like your toes due to the taste.

To Sum it All Up:

There are both medical, behavioral, and emotional reasons your Shih Tzu might be licking themselves, you, and everything around them. These can include, stress, affection, boredom, an infection, and even allergies. 


Please Note:

This article is informational only and does not substitute for veterinary advice. Always check with your veterinarian if you are concerned about your Shih Tzu’s behavior. This article should not be considered in any way as veterinarian advice.


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