An English bulldog, like all dogs, uses its tongue for a variety of functions, including tasting, panting to lower body temperature, examining new objects, animals or people and expressing affection. Some dog owners are more tolerant of their dogs' licking whereas other owners are driven crazy by those long, floppy tongues. Excessive licking in an English bulldog can be a sign of a problem, or it can be normal dog behavior.
Licking That Is Excessive
Generally, the amount of licking that qualifies as excessive depends on the dog's owner. Some people love getting their hands or faces lapped at by dogs because it is understood to be an affectionate gesture. Other people find it very irritating or embarrassing. It is unreasonable to expect a dog never to lick, but it is also cause for concern if a dog spends a large portion of time licking everything in sight.
English bulldogs are prone to their own particular set of maladies. These include (but are not limited to) allergies, bloat, hip dysplasia and cleft palate. These problems, along with others, may be the cause of excessive licking. For example, bloat is a life-threatening canine illness that requires veterinary attention -- food, air or fluid gets trapped in the stomach, which twists and cuts off blood to organs. Symptoms include attempts to vomit, strange behavior and licking.
Anxiety-Induced Excessive Licking
Many English bulldogs express anxiety through obsessive-compulsive, or "stereotypical," behaviors. A dog that is not getting enough attention or exercise will often become anxious, as will a dog stressed by a change in its environment (like a new puppy) or one that is not feeling well. For example, a deaf dog might be anxious because it can't hear people approaching and might respond to this stress by doing repetitive things, such as walking in circles or licking the couch incessantly.
How to Curb Licking
If your bulldog's licking doesn't stem from a medical problem, you can take steps to reduce it. You can take your dog on more or longer walks to tire it out, you can leave your dog with a friend when you go out and you can spend time after work playing, grooming and training your dog. In addition, you can give your bulldog chewy toys and treats to occupy its mouth.