Why is my one dog's hobby chewing my other dog's fur?

  • So, I have had my 3-year-old, 65-pound, American Bulldog for about 9 months. His name is Dewey and he is deaf. I recently adopted another dog, a 2-year-old, 45-pound, Australian shepherd/Chow mix, named Clint, from the local shelter. Dewey has clearly asserted himself as boss dog and Clint, being as submissive as he is, seems perfectly okay with the arrangement.

    Clint and Dewey get along pretty well (I took Dewey to meet Clint before adopting) and they play pretty well, normal amounts of "bitey-face" and wrestling. My question concerns Dewey occasional behavior during downtime. Dewey, as the title of the post precludes, really enjoys chewing on Clint. Clint has rather long fur (compared to the short fur Dewey has) and Dewey enjoys gently chewing on this thick mane, as if Clint is a toy. Clint is totally fine with this (it seems).

    Why might Dewey be doing this? I'm not looking to stop it because it seems both dogs are cool with it. A Google search hasn't yielded anything and I'm at a loss for explanation.

    Does Dewey have a particular place that he chews?

    Maybe Clint has a skin condition that makes the fur extremely tasty... You should try too.

    @JohnCavan, Dewey seems to focus on Clint's chest and shoulders.

    @CedricH. I have just finished licking Clint all over and, despite having a lot of fur on my tongue, cannot corroborate your theory. ;)

    Since you ask this question, I guess you have reasons to assume that it is not normal social behaviour, i.e. "fur maintenance". Can you give them?

    I was not aware of this "fur maintenance" social behavior. I had never observed this behavior before in other dogs. Would you be able to expound on this behavior below, in an answer?

    @KevinL It is called "allogrooming" (as opposed to self-grooming) and is normally licking or teeth nibbling. When applied to humans, it is called "nitting" (my Lab does this whenever I wear a pullover ...).

    Dogs do groom other dogs, and it's not just face-licking. I witness it every night with my pair.

    @Ingo - It's better to post an answer as *answer* rather than as a comment.

    @JohnCavan Normally yes, but I wasn't sure that what the dogs do *is* actually allogrooming. Hence I asked if it might be.

    I adopted a 1 year old golden lab who does this all the time to my 8 year old black lab. At first I was worried but she doesn't seem to have a problem with it, and he is very careful. It reminds me of when monkeys clean each other and pick bugs off of each other.

  • Spidercat

    Spidercat Correct answer

    7 years ago

    I wouldn't worry about it since it's a case of a dog grooming another dog. If it was compulsively grooming itself, it could be a case of dry/irritated skin, allergies, or parasites among others.

    I think what probably happened is that sometime during their playing Dewey starting the behaviour and it just became a habit for whatever reason.

    It could be that it's a mild case of Pica, where he just likes the texture. I know some dogs that will compulsively lick their owner's suede couch because they like the texture of it.

    Wolves will practice a type social grooming when they're relaxed, picking fleas, ticks, and burs, out of each other's fur. So it's possible that it's stemming from that behavior, or started as that behavior and evolved into just something they do after wrestling.

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