Have you ever thought about your dog’s skin underneath her fur? Chances are, it’s not a uniform color. Just like humans who have birthmarks, freckles, moles, and so on, our dogs do, too. And it’s not just their skin that can have spots! A Dog’s tongue can also have black spots that are similar to what we consider freckles. However, if you’re just noticing black spots on your dog’s tongue, or if a new spot develops, there are a few things to know. Let’s dig into dog tongue spots–and what they might mean for your pup.
What Do Black Tongue Spots on Dogs Mean?
So, your dog’s tongue has black spots. What does that mean? For some breeds, black tongue spots are incredibly common. While breeds like Chow Chows and Shar-Peis can have an entirely bluish-black tongue, most dogs with black tongue spots have a few irregularly shaped and spaced spots.
Most dogs with tongue spots are born with them. Over the dog’s life, they may change a little–like your dog’s tongue color may darken–but generally, what your pup is born with is what he or she has for life. Even though they’re most often referred to as black spots, they can also appear bluish. These black (or blue!) tongue spots will be flat rather than raised and have the same texture as the rest of the tongue.
The good news is these spots are almost always harmless. The black spots on a dog’s tongue are simply extra pigment. Just like freckles are spots with extra pigment in humans, those black tongue spots on dogs indicate places where there’s more pigment than in the usually-pink tongue. It’s called hyperpigmentation and is no cause for alarm.
And even though a dog’s tongue spots are not a health concern, pet parents should regularly monitor their dog’s mouth, including teeth, gums, and tongue, so you can spot any changes in your dog’s oral health before they become problems.
What Dog Breeds Have Black Tongue Spots?
Chow Chows and Shar-Peis are the only two breeds with a bluish-black tongue as the breed standard. For all other breeds, the spots that appear have nothing to do with the pure or mix of your pup. While some breeds are prone to black-spotted tongues, both purebred dogs and mixes can sport black tongue spots.
The hyper-pigmentation can occur in any breed but is most common among breeds with black points: lips, nose, eye rims, paw pads, and toenails with black coloring. Dog breeds with black tongue spots can include:
- Australian Cattle Dog
- Australian Shepherd
- Belgian Sheepdog
- Belgian Tervuren
- Belgian Malinois
- Bichon Frise
- Bouvier des Flandres
- Bull Mastiff
- Cairn Terrier
- Chinese Shar-Pei
- Chow Chow
- Cocker Spaniel
- Doberman Pinscher
- English Setter
- Fila Brasileiro
- Flat-Coated Retriever
- German Shepherd
- Golden Retriever
- Gordon Setter
- Great Pyrenees
- Irish Setter
- Kai Ken
- Kerry Blue Terrier
- Korean Jindo
- Labrador Retriever
- Mountain Cur
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
- Shiba Inu
- Siberian Husky
- Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
- Tibetan Mastiff
From this list, it’s clear that you can’t determine a dog’s breed simply by whether a dog has a spot on its tongue. These breeds can have any manifestation of black tongue spots that range from a few dots to a partially-black tongue.
Should I Be Concerned if My Dog’s Tongue Spot Changes Size or Color?
Often, these spots show up in puppyhood, though they can develop later in life, too. These spots of extra pigmentation are normal. In most cases, these spots of pigmentation are nothing to worry about, though certain serious cancers like melanoma or squamous cell carcinoma can crop up in your dog’s mouth.
If your dog’s tongue has black spots, there are a few things to watch for that might be cause for concern: First, watch for any changes in texture. If the black spots become raised or the texture changes from the same texture as the rest of the tongue, schedule a checkup with your vet. Second, if your dog’s mouth develops a foul odor, get a checkup ASAP. Finally, if spots begin to appear in other areas in your dog’s mouth, head to the vet.
If your dog’s tongue does not have black spots, and spots begin to appear in your dog’s mouth past puppyhood, it’s time to schedule a checkup. While these changes in pigmentation aren’t usually cause for alarm, a dog who has never had spots but suddenly does should get a comprehensive oral exam. Generally, any unusual changes in your dog’s mouth including new growths, spots, or odors, warrant a call to your vet.
Your dog’s oral health is a good indicator of his or her overall health. Healthy teeth and gums go a long way toward a healthy, happy dog.
While this type of hyperpigmentation isn’t directly related to oral health, it’s a good idea to know what your dog’s healthy mouth looks like. That way, if the spots begin to change in size or color or if new spots develop, you’ll be aware immediately and can prevent any changes from becoming big problems. If there are black spots on your dog’s tongue already, keep an eye on them but know there’s probably no cause for concern.
Does your dog have tongue spots? If so, what breed is your dog? Has he or she had them since puppyhood?
Your dog’s dental health is one of the five vital stats that we encourage you to monitor. Join us in our Pet Health 5 movement and together we can start tracking our pet’s health. It’s super easy! We’ll send you a reminder on the 5th of each month with a checklist of what to do and how to do it. All you need to do is take the time to check your dog’s health stats and log them.
Pet health and dog health is an important aspect of helping our dogs live long and happy lives. You can start today by weighing your dog and signing up for Pet Health 5.