Black Spots Dog Tongue

Reviewed By Julie •  Updated: 09/21/22 •  6 min read
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Black Spots Dog Tongue

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Have you noticed black spots on your dog’s tongue? Does his tongue look like someone threw a bottle of ink at it? Pet parents are sometimes surprised to find their dogs have black spots on their tongues! But what causes this? Are those black spots anything to worry about?

What are Those Black Spots on my Dog’s Tongue?

Most dogs have pink tongues and gums. Then there are dog breeds that either have black (or blue) spotted tongues.

Those black spots that look like ink on your dog’s tongue are areas of hyperpigmentation. That means these areas of the tongue have more melanin (a substance in the skin that produces coloration) than other parts of your dog’s otherwise pink tongue. These areas are completely harmless.

Melanin is the substance that causes pigmentation in many creatures. It influences skin color, hair, noses, eyes, mouths, nails, and tongues. You might think of those spots on your canine companion’s tongue as something like a freckle or a birthmark. It’s your dog’s unique coloration!

The spots may be black or dark blue; the color can vary for each dog. What’s more, the spots of color come in different sizes and shapes. These areas with more pigmentation should be completely flat and the texture the same as the rest of your dog’s tongue. However, if you notice these areas appear somewhat raised, it’s essential to make an appointment with the vet to check these spots.

Can Spots on a Dog’s Tongue Be Something to Worry About?

Yes, there are times when spots on a dog’s tongue can be concerning. For instance, the vet should always check spots that are raised or look different in other ways. There’s a slight chance these spots could be canine oral cancer or melanoma.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to check your dog’s tongue regularly. This way, you’ll know how your dog’s tongue looks normal and will be able to notice changes when they occur.

So, if you notice a sudden change of the spots on your dog’s tongue or new spots, it’s definitely something to have checked by the vet.

Cancerous Black Spots on a Dog’s Tongue

Cancerous melanoma is rare, but the mouth is the most common area where they occur. A spot of melanoma may appear slightly raised, smooth, and shiny. Your fur baby may also have very bad breath and bleeding in his mouth.

Another issue is a disease called black tongue. The symptoms include foul breath, redness, and ulceration in the mouth, along with visible blood in the dog’s saliva. The condition is usually caused by a niacin deficiency. The condition can be fatal if not treated.

In addition, your dog could develop a blue tongue. This is an indication that your dog is not getting enough oxygen. A blue tongue can indicate heart disease, lung disease, or exposure to a poison or toxin. 

Do Certain Breeds Have Black Spots on Their Tongues?

Yes, one of the most famous dog breeds with dark tongues or spots is the Chow Chow! However, there are also other dog breeds that have black spots on their tongues, including:

If your dog has a spotted tongue, he could be one of these dog breeds. However, the spotted tongue is not a definite indication that your dog belongs to (or is part of) these dog breeds.

Researchers are unsure why some dog breeds are prone to black spots on their tongues. But one thing is for certain, dogs with spotted or dark tongues sure get more attention!

Here are some dog breeds that are famous for having spotted tongues!

1. Chow Chows

Chow Chows are famous for their black tongues and thick manes of fur and originally come from China. These dogs strongly resemble lions and are beautiful canines. Chows are independent dogs that some pet parents describe as being more like a cat. However, the dogs are also loyal and love their families. This is not a huggy dog; however, they are usually quietly nearby, keeping watch over their pet parents and families.

While they look fierce, Chows are anything but! They’re usually not aggressive and even get along with kids (as long as the kids know how to respect and treat a dog properly). These dogs will challenge an intruder; however, if a stranger is welcomed by the dog’s pet parent, the Chow will let the person enter the home.

2. Shar Pei

The Shar Pei is another dog breed famous for having black tongues. These dogs also come from China. Shar Pei means literally means “sand skin,” which is an apt description of the dog’s bristly coat. Another distinctive feature of these dogs is that their bodies are covered in loose wrinkles. This is an adorable dog!

The Shar Pei is a calm dog breed that’s also independent and sometimes a bit aloof. They make great watchdogs and loving (aloof) companions. This is a dog that wants to be with his pet parent most of the time. The dogs are also confident, and they seem to develop an intuitive bond with their families.

One note—the Shar Pei is known to be aggressive toward other dogs. So, it’s recommended that the dogs are trained and socialized to make them more well-rounded family companions.

3. German Shepherd

Next on our list of dogs with black or black-spotted tongues is the German Shepherd. German Shepherds can have black spots on their tongues—this is completely normal in the breed. German Shepherds can be aloof; however, they’re not usually aggressive. They’re also very loyal to their families, though if the dogs are threatened, they will be protective. This dog breed makes an excellent watchdog.

German Shepherds are highly intelligent dogs that are trainable and prefer to have a job to do. It’s possible to train these canines to do almost anything. While these are great dogs, it’s best to adopt a German Shepherd that’s been properly trained and socialized from a young age. The result is a well-rounded, confident dog that knows how to behave in different situations and with other dogs and humans!

Summing It Up

So, there you have it! Black spots on a dog’s tongue can be completely normal. Some dog breeds have this characteristic.

However, if your dog suddenly develops black spots on his tongue and/or if these spots are raised and different than the other parts of the tongue, it’s best to call the vet. These spots need to be checked out to ensure they’re not a sign of illness.

Otherwise, black spots on a dog’s tongue are a unique marker of his dog breed and his heritage!

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Julie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she studied Animal science. Though contrary to the opinion of her parents she was meant to study pharmacy, but she was in love with animals especially cats. Julie currently works in an animal research institute (NGO) in California and loves spending quality time with her little cat. She has the passion for making research about animals, how they survive, their way of life among others and publishes it. Julie is also happily married with two kids.