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The Black Tongue Debate

The Truth About Those Black Tongues     

Does the black spot on your Labrador's tongue mean he's really a Chow mix? That
mixed breed puppy in the shelter with a partially black tongue -- is that a sure sign
he's part Chow?  The answer to both questions is:   No!

The Chow Chow's blue-black tongue is one of the breed's most well known physical
characteristics. It's also the most misunderstood.
The Chow is one of the most ancient breeds and is the ancestor of many breeds of
today. The origin of the Chow's black tongue is a mystery; we don't know how or why
he came to have it.

We do know that the Chow is not the only breed with a blue-black tongue. The
Chinese Shar-Pei shares this trait as well.  A few other animals have black tongues,
too:  the giraffe, polar bear, and several breeds of cattle including the Jersey. We
also know that blue-black spots on tongues are very common in dogs - more than 30
pure breeds are known  to have members with spotted tongues.  Spots on tongues
are simply deposits of extra pigment, like birthmarks and freckles on people.  Dogs
often have spots of dark pigment on their skin, too, hiding under their coats.  These
spots can be large or small, many or few.

If a Chow's tongue has a pink spot on it, does that mean it's not purebred?  No.
Chow puppies' tongues are pink at birth. They darken to blue-black by 8-10 weeks of
age. Some tongues don't  cover completely and they may have small spots or
splashes of pink. Elderly Chows and Chows with the dilute coat colors of cinnamon
and blue sometimes lose tongue pigment as they age and develop pink spots.  What
if the dog looks like a Chow but has a completely pink or mostly pink tongue?

Knowledgeable Chowists agree that such dogs are not purebred Chows and might
not have any Chow parentage at all. The Chow is a member of the spitz family, a
large group of breeds that includes the  Samoyed, Siberian Husky, Malamute, Akita,
Shiba Inu,  Pomeranian, Norwegian Elkhound, Keeshond, etc. They all share basic
physical characteristics:  a similar body structure, over-the-back tail carriage, upright
triangular ears, and a dense offstanding coat.  A Chow-looking dog with a pink
tongue is more likely to be a mix of one of the other spitz-type breeds.

Breeds known to have members with spotted tongues

Airedale, Akita, Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Shepherd, Belgian Sheepdog,
Belgian Tervuren, Belgian Malinois, Bichon Frise
Bouvier de Flandres, Bull Mastiff, Cairn Terrier, Chinese Shar-Pei, Collie, Cocker
Spaniel, Dalmatian, Doberman Pinscher,
English Setter, Eurasier, Fila Brasileiro, Flat-coated Retriever, German Shepherd,
Golden Retriever, Gordon Setter, Great Pyrenees,
Irish Setter, Kai Ken, Keeshond, Korean Jindo, Labrador Retriever, Mastiff, Mountain
Cur, Newfoundland, Pomeranian,
Pug, Rhodesian Ridgeback Rottweiler, Shiba Inu, Siberian Husky, Tibetan Mastiff,
Thai Ridgeback
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