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:
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 orgin 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?
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.