When was the last time you took a good look into your dog’s mouth?
Does your dog’s tongue make you think someone dribbled black paint in his mouth? Some owners are surprised when they notice their dogs have developed dark spots on their tongue, but is this reason to worry?
We’re glad that you’re an extremely observant pet owner!
Often times, changes like these can go unnoticed. But don’t fret; these black spots are almost always harmless.
These dark spots on your dog’s tongue are actually just areas of hyper-pigmentation.
Basically, these spots are the freckles or beauty marks of the canine world. They are harmless markings that develop when more pigment is deposited on one area of the tongue.
These spots are typically blue to black in color and can come in a range of shapes and sizes. They should always be flat to the surface of your dog’s tongue and have the same texture as the surrounding tissue. If you notice any raised areas of color on your dog’s tongue, you’ll want to take them to the vet to get it checked out.
This is perfectly normal. Some puppies are born with spotted tongues while others will develop the markings later in life.
Chow Chows are best known for their blue-black tongues – a common myth is that dogs who are mixed with Chow Chow will have spotted tongues.
While this may be true, there are many purebred dogs that have this characteristic. It all comes down to genetics.
Scientists and veterinarians are still a bit unsure as to what causes the spots but they do know that it is a hereditary trait. This means it passes from the parents to the offspring.
I was surprised myself when I noticed my dog had black spots on her tongue. Then, I did some research and found out that this is a common trait in hounds.
If you have a mixed breed dog, identifying your dog’s tongue spots may inspire you to consider grabbing a dog DNA test and finding out your dog’s background – who knows where Fido came from?
Absolutely not. There are several breeds of purebred dogs that commonly have spotted tongues. Feel free to see the list below of popular breeds that can have these characteristics.
There are many breeds of dogs that can have spotted tongues, including:
How do I know if these spots are abnormal?
While dark tongue spots are usually normal occurrences, it is still best to be vigilant. Pay close attention when you are brushing your dog’s teeth to any changes in their oral health.
It never hurts to mention new spots to your veterinarian. A quick look into the mouth will allow them to determine whether or not the spots need to be assessed.
Veterinarians become concerned when the spots are raised or hardened.
Two of the most common oral cancers are melanomas or squamous cell carcinomas. Tumors from both of these cancers may appear as dark masses on your dog’s tongue or mucus membranes. These will be blatantly different from the normal, flat spots.
You can determine a lot about your pet’s health by observing their tongue.
Remember, the spots on your dog’s tongue are almost always normal. They add character to your already gorgeous best friend, so go ahead and embrace them!
Paula is a second year veterinary student who has worked in the field for several years. She is passionate about sharing her pet knowledge. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her best friend Liberty!