Unveiling Why Bulldogs Lick the Air: The Real Reasons

Understanding Bulldog Licking Behavior

Bulldogs are known to be one of the most lovable and comical breeds around, but it can be baffling to witness them licking the air. There are a few common explanations as to why your bulldog might be engaging in this behavior, all of which are important to take into consideration. To truly understand why your bulldog is licking the air, it is important to evaluate its general behavior, environment, and stimuli present.

Though this type of behavior can be observed in many breeds, it is particularly common among bulldogs due to several features unique to their anatomy. Bulldogs also possess certain instincts that influence how they interact with the environment. Furthermore, certain stimuli may trigger a response that leads a bulldog to lick the air. By evaluating these components, you can gain an understanding of your bulldog’s motivations and develop a plan to manage the issue.

Anatomical Background

Bulldogs have distinct physical features that may be related to their unusual behavior of licking the air. Bulldogs are a distinctly short-nosed breed, meaning that they have a flat face and snub nose given by their brachycephalic skull. While this is an adorable and much sought-after look amongst many pet owners, it also has some serious anatomical implications. Due to the shortened nostrils, bulldogs can have a hard time breathing, making certain activities such as exercise and hot weather an uncomfortable experience. This means they require significant amounts of rest and relaxation and often pant more than other breeds of dogs.

Bulldogs’ tongues are also longer than many other breeds. Their tongues can even reach so far back that they touch the roof of their mouths. For this reason, bulldogs often stick out their tongues more than other breeds, giving the impression that they are licking the air.

Furthermore, bulldogs are prone to bruxism, a type of involuntary jaw movement where they grind their teeth, almost like a chewing motion. When you couple that with an extended tongue, they will sometimes lick the air, mimicking the same motion. In addition, since Bulldogs have lids that close more slowly than humans, they will often keep their eyes open during the bruxing, giving the impression that they are licking the air.

It is believed that all these features combine to give Bulldogs their unique lapping behavior and can help explain why they often lick the air when they are not actually licking anything else.

Nutritional Reasons

Bulldogs may lick the air for several reasons related to nutrition, one of which is a nutritional deficiency. It is important to ensure that your bulldog is getting the proper nutrients and vitamins from its diet that it needs to stay healthy. If there is a deficiency, the bulldog may develop symptoms such as licking the air because of its instinctive need to consume food.

It is also possible that a bulldog may lick the air in response to the smell of food in the environment. Bulldogs have a powerful sense of smell which can be triggered by the presence of food, even from a great distance.

This could cause your bulldog to lick the air in an attempt to consume the food even if it is not actually present.

Environmental Play

When it comes to understanding why bulldogs might lick the air, it is important to consider their environment. Bulldog behavior can be due to a reaction to unfamiliar settings or sensations in the environment, which can trigger their licking behavior. In particular, these can include an unusual smell or sound that may alert their senses.

Furthermore, when a bulldog finds itself in an unfamiliar situation such as a new home or visiting a veterinarian, they may respond by licking the air as a result of the stress and uncertainty. This suggests that licking the air is a form of self-soothing behavior for bulldogs, as they express their feelings of discomfort or insecurity.

In addition, bulldogs may also lick the air if they are feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated due to large crowds of people or loud noises. The same way that some humans might bite their nails when stressed, bulldogs instinctively lick the air when feeling anxious. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of their reactions when introducing them to novel environments.

Behavioral Explorations

Bulldog lapping is a behavior that can be broken down into various categories. They could be licking for attention or love; as a response to boredom; or it could simply be a habit they have formed. Let’s look into these categories in further detail.


It is possible that bulldogs lick the air as a way of getting attention from their owners and other people. This might be a sign that they are seeking love and affection, or simply want someone to notice them. If this is the case, then it is important to reward them with positive reinforcement when they act out this behavior in a healthy way.


Much like humans, dogs can experience boredom. This could be a reason why your bulldog has taken to licking the air. It can be a comfort to them while they are feeling lonely or unoccupied. Make sure your pooch is getting enough exercise, mental stimulation and playtime so that they don’t develop this behavior in response to boredom.


Licking the air can become a habit that bulldogs develop over time. This is usually seen more often in older dogs. If you notice this behavior becoming more frequent, work on rewarding them for any other activities and try to break this specific habit.

Stimulant Reactions: Could Bright Lights and Loud Noises be Triggers?

Bulldogs often display an unusual licking behavior that can be triggered by multiple factors. One of these potential triggers is environmental stimuli, such as bright lights or loud noises. While all dogs may have a reaction to these types of stimuli, bulldogs might show it more strongly, particularly due to their heightened senses.

When exposed to bright lights or loud noises, a bulldog’s instinctive response might be to lick the air around them. This could be a way to self-soothe in a fearful situation, to express excitement, or to create a feeling of security. By taking extra precautions to avoid exposing your bulldog to potential triggers, you may be able to reduce their licking behavior.

It is important to learn how to recognize when a bulldog is about to enter a stimulated state. Generally, this can be observed through changes in behavior, such as pacing, increased vocalization, or an intense focus on the stimulus. If you are aware of these signs and can respond accordingly with calming words or gestures, you may be able to keep the licking behavior from occurring.

It is also beneficial to determine the particular environment or stimuli that your bulldog responds to and avoiding these situations as much as possible. For example, if your bulldog is sensitive to bright lights, try keeping the lights low in your home or using blackout curtains. You can also reduce the intensity of loud noises by playing music or soft sounds instead.

By understanding why and how bulldogs might lick the air when exposed to certain stimuli, you will be better equipped to manage and reduce this behavior. If you find that your bulldog’s licking behavior is not diminishing through environmental changes, it may be wise to seek professional advice from a veterinarian or animal behavior specialist.

Socialization Patterns

Bulldogs are a loyal and social breed, who benefit greatly from positive interaction with humans and other dogs. The lack of frequent and adequate socialization for these sensitive pooches can cause them to display erratic behaviors such as air licking. If your Bulldog isn’t given the chance to meet other dogs, play, explore their environment, and interact with different people, they may start lapping the air out of anxiety or boredom.

Air licking can be particularly dangerous for bulldogs with a history of aggression or fear. When a dog feels scared or threatened, they’ll often resort to a behavior like this in order to soothe themselves. This behavior can then be reinforced if the dog is regularly exposed to the same stimuli, creating a difficult-to-break cycle.

Bulldogs should have plenty of chances to socialize in new environments, with different people and animals. This will give them the opportunity to build up trust and confidence in their surroundings, reducing their stress and fear levels. Exposure to a variety of people and experiences will also help to build their socialization and communication skills, allowing them to feel more relaxed.

Breed Specificity

Air licking is not just a behavior that is observed in Bulldogs; it can occur with many other breeds of dogs as well. Some breeds may be predisposed to air licking due to their particular anatomy or temperament, while other breeds may pick up on the behavior from other dogs in the household. While research has not yet identified any patterns in the breed-to-breed prevalence of air licking, anecdotal evidence suggests that certain breeds are more likely to engage in the behavior.

For example, Labradors and Golden Retrievers have both been known to exhibit air licking behaviors. Smaller breeds such as Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Pugs may also be prone to air licking. Breeds such as German Shepherds, Boxers, and even Bull Terriers may also be affected by this behavior. The bottom line is that there does not appear to be one single breed that is more likely to display air licking behavior than others, and the reasons for why a certain breed may lick the air are still being researched.

While air licking behaviors may be seen in multiple dog breeds, it is important to note that the causes of air licking may vary depending on the individual dog and the environment in which the behavior occurs. Therefore, it is wise to consult with a qualified veterinary professional when attempting to diagnose and manage the underlying cause of air licking in any breed of dog.

Management Strategies

Managing a bulldog’s licking behavior can be an important part of keeping their well-being in check. It is important to understand environmental triggers and develop strategies to prevent the behavior from occurring. Some solutions include:

  • Distraction – Finding activities that occupy your bulldog’s time can help reduce the amount of licking it does. Taking them for regular walks or engaging in a game of fetch are two good options.
  • Positive Reinforcement – Rewarding positive behavior with treats or other forms of attention can help encourage desirable behavior. Especially when done consistently and immediately after the desired behavior has occurred.
  • Environmental Change – Reducing environmental triggers to the licking behavior can be key in developing successful management. Try changing up the routine, the room, or even the type of environment your dog is in.

It is important to remember that the steps taken to manage a bulldog’s licking behavior should be tailored to the individual pet and the situation they are in. Not all strategies will work on all dogs, so it is important to remain patient and consistent. If you notice that the licking behavior does not improve over time, it is always recommended to contact your veterinarian for further evaluation.

Veterinary Considerations

In some cases, bulldog licking behavior may require the attention of a veterinarian for further evaluation. It’s important to pay close attention to any changes in your dog’s licking behavior or any other abnormal behaviors that could be related to underlying medical issues. If you notice any of these conditions, you should seek professional medical advice right away from your vet. Some signs to look out for include excessive licking or drooling, signs of distress or agitation, or if the behavior is becoming increasingly frequent.

Your veterinarian will go through a comprehensive medical examination including tests such as blood work, imaging tests, and neurological evaluations. Depending on the results of the evaluation, your vet may suggest medications or behavioural therapies to help manage the condition or treat any underlying medical conditions. Additionally, they may also recommend dietary changes to help address any nutritional deficiencies that may be contributing to the behaviour.

Long-term management and care are also important to consider in order to prevent this behavior from becoming a habit. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian can help identify any potential health issues in the future and ensure that your bulldog is staying in its best health.


Bulldog licking behavior can be a source of confusion if not understood properly, so it’s important to get to the root of why your bulldog may be doing it. Understanding the various environmental, nutritional, anatomical, social, and behavioral factors that lead to licking can be the key to effectively managing or curbing the behavior. In conclusion, bulldogs may lick the air due to a variety of reasons, ranging from certain environmental stimuli to a lack of proper nutrition or socialization. It is important to take the time to observe the behavior, stay alert for triggers, and address the issue with appropriate positive reinforcement techniques or management strategies.


In this guide, we delved into the various possible reasons why a bulldog may be licking the air. To support our research, it is important to include professional resources and references.

To start, the American Kennel Club states that due to their short noses and lapping tongues, it is not uncommon for Bulldogs to lick the air. It is an instinctive response for them to latch onto smells that are in the air and to explore their environment.

Another useful resource is the American Veterinary Medical Association, which highlights that some Bulldogs have a tendency to lick the air, which can be triggered by numerous environmental stimuli. The website further outlines that while air licking can be caused by habit or boredom, there may also be underlying health-related causes that could be the source of the behavior.

The National Canine Research Council provides further insight into the topic, noting that some air licking behaviors in Bulldogs are often due to stress, such as the presence of loud noises or unfamiliar people and animals. This source emphasizes the importance of providing Bulldogs with proper socialization to help curb any anxiety-provoking air licking behavior.

In addition, the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine enumerates that nutritionally-based air licking behaviors may be stimulated by the presence of appetizing foods in close proximity. They suggest that owners of Bulldogs should ensure access to balanced diets, to help minimize the potential of nutritionally-driven air licking.

Finally, Bulldog world is another reputable resource that provides more information on managing air licking behaviors. They recommend providing Bulldogs with an array of activities and exercise options to help ward off boredom-induced air licking.

With this in mind, it is clear that there are a range of resources and references that can aid in understanding why a Bulldog may be licking the air. We hope that after reading this guide, owners are now better equipped to investigate the source of this behavior and create management strategies to help discourage the licking.

Frequently Asked Questions about Bulldog Licking Behavior

  • Q: Why do bulldogs lick the air?
    A: Bulldogs lick the air for a variety of reasons, which can include nutritional deficiencies, instinctive responses to food in the environment, environmental or behavioral triggers, and reactions to certain stimuli such as bright lights or loud noises.
  • Q: Could breed or environment be related to the behavior?
    A: Yes, certain breeds of dogs, especially bulldogs, may exhibit licking behavior more often than others. Additionally, the environment can have an effect on a bulldog’s licking behavior; dogs may react to unfamiliar settings or smells in the air by licking the air.
  • Q: What nutritional deficiencies could cause a bulldog to lick the air?
    A: Nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin deficiency, mineral deficiency, or dehydration can lead to a dog licking the air.
  • Q: Could bulldog licking behavior be due to attention-seeking or boredom?
    A: Yes, similarly to other animals, bulldogs may lick the air as an attention seeking behavior or simply out of boredom or habit.
  • Q: When should a veterinarian be consulted about a dog’s licking behavior?
    A: If the licking behavior is excessive or abnormal, it is recommended you consult your veterinarian for further evaluation and possible treatment.
  • Q: Are there any management techniques to reduce a bulldog’s licking behavior?
    A: Yes, owners can use distraction and positive reinforcement techniques, such as providing treats, to reduce the licking behavior. Additionally, changing the environment where the licking occurs can help mitigate the licking behavior.
  • Q: What resources are available for further information on understanding a bulldog’s licking behavior?
    A: There are several professional resources and references available to provide more insight into why a bulldog might lick the air. It is recommended to consult these sources to gain a better understanding of this behavior.

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