It used to be thought that only Chow Chows and Shar Peis, or mixes of them, had black tongues. This is not necessarily the case. Though AKC standards require black tongues in these two breed, there are actually many breeds with all black tongues or with some black on their tongues.
The Chow-Chow breed is well-known for having a black tongue. However, Chow-Chow puppies are born with pink tongues. It is only when they become 8-10 weeks old that the tongue becomes blue-black.
Black tongues are not uncommon in dogs. In fact, several dog-owners have reported that their pet, regardless of its breed, has either a dark bluish-black tongue, or has blue-black spots on the tongue. Having spots, or colored tongues is very much like humans having birthmarks, and dogs even have them on the skin, but we can’t see them because of their coats.
Dark tongues in dogs are often the result of mixed parentage, or extra pigment, and some breeds are more prone to these spots or coloring than others. Some dog breeds, however, are exclusively known for the uniqueness of their tongue. Read on for four dog breeds that are famous for their unique tongue.
One of the most ancient dog breeds in the world, the Chow-Chow (called Chow, for the sake of convenience) is one of the oldest dog breeds. Originally from Mongolia and Northern China, the Chows guarded temples, accompanied armies and were also vital for hunting.
Height: 18-21 inches
Weight: 44-70 pounds
Chows are big, stout dogs with a large head and a broad muzzle. They have a thick fur coat, which may be either rough or smooth. The fur is especially thick in the area behind the head, which gives it a mane-like appearance. Common colors in Chow-Chows are red, black, cinnamon, cream, or gray.
One of the most distinctive features about the Chow is its dark tongue, which ranges from blue to black in color. The reason for the unique blue-black tongue in Chows is, however, still unknown to us. Some elderly Chows are known to lose their dark tongue color as they age, and develop pink spots on the tongue.
If socialized early and trained properly, Chow-Chows can make wonderful family dogs. Due to their origins and being bred for guard duties, many chow chows are independent and can be indifferent.
Walt Disney gifted his wife a Chow-Chow puppy as a Christmas gift in a hat-box. This later inspired a similar scene in the much-loved Disney animated film, ‘Lady and the Tramp.’
Shar-Peis tend to stand out in a crowd because of their skin with creases and folds, and distinctive appearance. Though they are completely covered with wrinkles as puppies, they lose some of the folds as they grow older. The Shar-Pei was, at one time, believed to be one of the rarest dog breeds in the world, and loosely translated, its name means “rough skin”.
Height: 18-22 inches
Weight: 39-64 pounds
The Chinese Shar-Pei is considerably big in size, and has folds and wrinkles covering its face, shoulder, and the base of the tail. The head of the Shar-Pei is large and flat, and it has high-set triangular ears that give it a very unique look. Common colors in Shar-Peis are black, cream, fawn, red, and brown, to name a few. However, a Shar-Pei is not considered a pure-bred dog if its coat is patchy or is made up of two different colors. The coat itself can be of two types―horse coat and brush coat. The horse coat is rough, while the brush coat has a smoother feel to it. There is another, very rare kind of coat, called the bear coat, but it is not officially recognized.
Chinese Shar-Peis also have a blue-black tongue, similar to Chow-Chows, and just like the latter, the reason for their dark tongue is unknown to us too.
If well socialized from a young age to other pets and children when still young, Shar-Peis are generally good with them. Shar-Peis can be friendly, loyal, and very protective of those around them. Make sure you are training from an early age withonly positive reinforcement, force-free training.
Did You Know?
The Chinese Shar-Pei was listed as one of the rarest dog breeds in the world in the late 1970s by TIME magazine as well as the Guinness Book of World Records.
Another ancient dog breed, the Thai Ridgeback was very rarely seen outside Thailand till recently, due to the lack of transportation options. History has it that these dogs were primarily used for hunting in Northern Thailand. The Thai Ridgeback is famous for a ridge of hair on its back.
Height: 20-24 inches
Weight: 48-75 pounds
The Thai Ridgeback is a strong, sturdy dog breed, and this is obvious in its appearance as well. This breed has a robust build, a short, tough coat and high-set ears that always seem to be alert. Due to its short coat, shedding is minimal in this breed.
The tongue of the Thai Ridgeback ranges from spotted to blue, black or bluish-gray in color.
The Thai Ridgeback is very active, tough, and agile. They are intelligent, and do really well with treat training and positive reinforcement. Thai Ridgebacks can make excellent family dogs if properly socialized.
Did You Know?
The Thai Ridgeback is one of only three dog-breeds in the world that has a hair ridge.
The Miniature Shar-Pei, or Mini-Pei, as it is popularly known, is a smaller dog breed from the Shar-Pei family. The small size of this breed, thanks to a recessive gene, makes it a very good family dog.
Height: Under 18 inches
Weight: 24-40 pounds
The Mini-Pei is short and almost square in its body structure. It looks very similar to the Chinese Shar-Pei, with its wrinkled face, high-set ears and a fairly large head. The coat of the Mini-Pei is categorized similarly as well. Common colors in the Mini-Pei are fawn, cream, brown, red, and black, to name a few. The Mini-Pei also has a blue-black tongue, the reason for which is yet unknown to us.
Mini-Peis can be affectionate, happy, alert, confident, and playful. They make excellent family dogs and are very good with children and other pets if socialized properly.
Did You Know?
American musician Mikey Way had a Mini-Pei named Piglet Tree.
As we mentioned earlier, blue-black tongues are not limited to any dog particular breeds. Research suggests that there are over 30 dog breeds that may have black-tongued dogs. Some other breeds that may have black-tongued dogs are:
- Bull Mastiff
- Labrador Retriever
- Cocker Spaniel
- Australian Cattle Dog
- Great Pyrenees
- Irish Setter
- Mountain Cur
The dark tongue could simply be the result of extra pigment. However, it would be a good idea to take your dog to the vet if you notice any sudden color changes on the tongue, as it could also mean an underlying medical condition.