Rottweilers are very fierce-looking large breed dogs. These dogs are very popular with the military, police, and security industries because they make excellent guarding and protection dogs.
Rottweilers are also the eighth most popular companion canine in the United States, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).
So this isn’t exactly the dog breed most people think of as a “licker.” Rottweilers can be very intimidating, especially when they don’t know you. Their bark is loud but their bite can be even worse.
But what non-Rottweiler owners often do not realize until they get a Rottie is that these dogs love to lick their people! In this article, we take you behind the scenes to learn why Rottweilers lick their owners so much.
Why Does My Rottweiler Lick Me So Much?
Rottweilers lick people for the same basic reasons other dog breeds lick people – to show love and to communicate.
There are other reasons as well, of course. But these are the two main reasons why your Rottweiler licks you so much.
Watch a Short Video to Learn Why Dogs Lick Their People
Some people love it when their dogs lick them. Other people would love for their dogs to stop all that licking.
In this YouTube video, you can learn the sometimes surprising reasons why dogs lick their people.
Nine Key Reasons Your Rottweiler Licks You
These eight reasons Rottweilers lick represent the general consensus among veterinarians, canine biologists and researchers, and Rottweiler owners.
However, there is still so much to be learned about Rottweilers, so these may be far from the only reasons your Rottie decides to lick you!
1. To say “I love you.”
As Vetstreet explains, when your Rottweiler licks you, it is a sign of affection.
Rottweilers do not lick people they fear or perceive as a threat – far from it. So if your Rottweiler is licking you and not barking, growling, or barking, it is a safe bet the gesture is one of affection.
2. To get your attention.
Dogs are very smart. According to Science Alert, Rottweilers are the ninth smartest dog breed out of 79 ranked purebred dog breeds.
So if dogs, in general, are smart, Rottweilers are genius-level. Once your Rottie figures out that when they lick you, you give them your attention, you can bet your dog will start liking you more and more.
3. To taste you and learn about you.
Your dog explores the world in many ways, but the taste is definitely one of those ways.
So it just makes sense that another reason Rottweilers lick their people is because they get a lot of information about you from licking you.
4. To ask for food.
As the American Kennel Club (AKC) points out, wild canid puppies like foxes, coyotes, and wolves often lick their mothers’ muzzles when they return to the den.
The reason is that the puppies are hoping the mother canid will throw up what she ate so they can eat it.
5. As a ritual greeting.
From observing the behavior of wild canids, there is also evidence to suggest that licking may simply be a form of mutual greeting.
Of course, you are not licking your Rottweiler to greet them. But this doesn’t mean your Rottie will not still lick you because it is only polite in the dog world!
6. Because your dog is acknowledging you as alpha.
Here again, canine researchers borrow a theory from what people have learned from watching wild canid packs interact.
The more junior or submissive (lower-ranking) pack members will often engage in licking the dominant or alpha pack leaders. This may be a simple act of currying favor, a request to eat at a shared meal of prey or simply to maintain pack harmony.
7. Because your dog wants to play.
Some canine researchers believe that a dog that licks a lot is trying to engage you in play.
Many dogs will play-bite one another during grow play, but some dogs prefer to lick instead.
8. Because they are stressed out.
There is also evidence to suggest that licking can be a self-soothing or self-stimulating behavior.
If your dog licks you excessively or obsessively, this may be a warning sign of an underlying health issue, whether physical or mental/emotional.
In particular, highly anxious dogs may lick their owners a lot because they are fearful of being alone or being abandoned and they are trying to get you to stick around.
9. Because they get pleasure from it.
As Animal Planet explains, just like you get endorphins (happy hormones) from patting your dog, so too does your Rottweiler get endorphins from licking you.
It makes your Rottie feel good to lick you so they keep doing it.
How to Get Your Rottweiler to Stop Licking You
As cute as it can be to see your Rottweiler get so excited to see you, a dog that licks excessively can also get to the point where it becomes irritating or inconvenient.
Plus, as we mentioned here in the previous section, there are some situations where excessive licking can be a symptom of an underlying problem, such as anxiety.
So is there a way to stop your Rottweiler from licking you so much? Happily, there are some potentially effective strategies that you can try.
1. Withdraw your attention.
If licking really is a learned behavior that you have accidentally taught your dog to do, then you can teach your dog not to do it, too.
The prize is your attention. Just as you taught your Rottweiler to lick more by giving them your attention, now you can teach your Rottie not to lick by withdrawing your attention.
As soon as your dog starts to lick you, get up, and walk away. If you pet your dog and the licking starts, stop the petting. You can use this technique any time the licking behavior starts until your dog gets the message.
2. Give your dog more exercise and play.
As Fetch by WebMD points out, sometimes dogs will lick obsessively or excessively simply out of boredom.
Rottweilers are very high energy and active dog breed in general. So if your Rottweiler doesn’t have any other reasonable outlet to let off steam, they may start to lick you both to get your attention and to just have something to do.
You can test out whether this may be the problem by grabbing a toy and starting a play session or taking your Rottweiler for a walk whenever they start to lick you.
If the licking stops and doesn’t restart when you get home, your dog probably just needed exercise.
3. Take steps to help your dog de-stress.
PetMD explains that a high-stress environment may cause your dog to lick you more.
So if you want it to stop, consider what in your dog’s environment or daily life may be contributed to stress or anxiety.
For example, if your dog has to stay home alone for long hours, consider a doggie daycare or hiring a pet walker. If your dog has separation anxiety, you may want to work with a professional K-9 trainer to help your dog calm down.
If the licking only happens during traditionally high-stress times such as when a storm is passing or fireworks are popping, you may want to try an anxiety vest or ask your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medications for dogs.
4. Distract your dog to redirect the licking.
As Animal Friends highlights, one potentially effective way to get your Rottweiler to stop licking you so much is to distract them.
Here, you will want to use something that has sufficiently high value like a favorite toy or a dog treat.
5. Feed your dog or offer water.
While you don’t want to inadvertently encourage more licking by feeding your dog every time they lick you, if the licking behavior only happens right around mealtimes, it may just be that your Rottweiler is letting you know they are hungry.
As the ASPCA points out, licking is one-way dogs can communicate that they are hungry or thirsty in a wild setting.
So it makes sense your Rottweiler might lick to communicate the same needs in a pet sitting.
By paying close attention to when your dog licks you and noticing what happened just before the licking started, you can start to pick up clues. What is your Rottweiler trying to tell you by licking you? Are they hungry, tired, bored, anxious, happy, or something else?
And remember, your Rottie may use licking to say lots of different things – after all, your dog can’t tell you what they want by using words. So licking may have to deliver all kinds of different messages from one day to the next.
The more you learn, the better you and your dog will be able to communicate.