Most labs have a completely pink tongue.
You probably have heard that only Chows are meant to have black tongues.
But perhaps you can clearly see a black spot or patch on your own Lab’s tongue?
My dog has a black spot on his tongue!
If your Lab is in the minority of dogs that have a black spot or spots on their tongues, you may be curious to know why.
Someone might have told you that your Labrador must be a crossbreed!
You might even be a bit worried about the tongue spots and want to know whether or not they can be harmful
Dogs with black spots on tongues
I’ll be answering your questions about black spots on a dog’s tongue
And that a tongue spot doesn’t mean that your dog is a mix breed or that he must have some Chow in him!
We’ll look at the meaning and causes of black tongue spots in Labs and other dog breeds.
And we’ll discover how common black tongue spots are, and whether tongue spots can come in other colors
We’ll also talk a bit about dog tongue health and how to recognise tongue spots that need to be examined by a vet.
How unusual is a black spot on dog’s tongue?
Black spots on the tongue of a usually pink tongue dog breed like the Labrador are not actually that rare.
Many dogs have a spot or two on their tongue, just like many people have a mole or freckle or two on their arms.
What do dog black tongue spots look like?
Dog tongue spots may vary from one tiny spot, to many spots
The spots may almost cover the tongue, they may be well defined separate spots, or they may be a single large patch of color.
Dogs with black spots on tongue – labs are not the only breed
Black tongue spots are common in a number of breeds, not just in Labradors. Golden Retrievers get them too, as do German Shepherd Dogs.
In fact tongue spots occur regularly in over thirty different breeds of dog
When is a dog tongue spot harmful?
The surface of tongue spots that are caused by harmless pigmentation, or color changes, don’t feel different to the touch.
The color you will see in this case is usually black, or a dark grey or blue grey, or bluish black. It will have been there from birth or have developed when your puppy was very young.
Any other color may have a different cause and needs bringing to the attention of your veterinarian. Tongue spots that develop in the older dog may be a cause for concern, and should be checked out by a vet.
If any parts of your dog’s tongue are raised or unusually smooth and shiny it is a good idea to have a chat with your vet about it. It may be nothing important, but it could be a health problem that needs treating.
Regular dental checks with your vet will help highlight any problems with your dog’s tongue but in the meantime, always consult your vet about any changes in your dog’s mouth. Your vet won’t mind if there is nothing wrong, and problems spotted early on are much easier to treat.
What causes black spots on a dog’s tongue
The harmless dark spots that occur in some individuals in many dog breeds are caused by a pigment called melanin.
It’s the same pigment that colors a black Lab’s fur and that causes darker skin in people.
Why does my dog have black spots on his tongue
According to the AKC
“While the random spots on the tongue of other breeds is just a result of heavy pigmentation carrying over to the tongue from the black points”
This may explain why a black Lab and other dark furred dogs might have dark tongue spots, but it clearly isn’t the whole story and many pale furred dogs, or dogs without black points, have tongue spots too.
While it is likely that dog tongue spots are inherited we don’t know exactly how the mechanism of inheritance works.
If your dog has black tongue spots it is possible that one of your dog’s parents or grandparents had tongue spots too. But it isn’t a given, and tongue spots may appear in a dogs whose ancestors were spot-free.
What do black spots on a dog’s tongue mean
All this tells us that black spots on a dogs tongue doesn’t mean very much at all.
It doesn’t mean that there was a Chow in your dog’s family tree.
It doesn’t even mean he isn’t pure bred – many pedigree dogs have black tongue spots.
And provided the spots have always been there, and are not raised, changing shape or different in texture from the rest of his tongue, they are harmless
Just accept it as a delightful quirk in your dog’s appearance and part of his own character and individuality.