Why Do Some Dogs Have Purple Tongues?

If you've ever met a Chow Chow or a Shar-pei, one of the first things you might have noticed is their unique tongue color. While humans and most dog breeds have pink tongues, some breeds of dogs have a purple tongue, blue tongue, or even black tongue!

While only a handful of breeds have a solid blue or purple tongue, the Chow Chow and the Chinese Shar-Pei are the most notable dog breeds to carry this unique trait. In fact, the Chow Chow and the Shar-pei may be the only breeds where their breed standards dictate that a blue tongue or a black tongue is a requirement for purebreds. Mixed breeds won't produce the exact same pigment, so this is a defining feature of these breeds. The AKC tells us this about the Chow Chow:

"Mouth and Tongue - Edges of the lips black, tissues of the mouth mostly black, gums preferably black. A solid black mouth is ideal. The top surface and edges of the tongue a solid blue-black, the darker the better. Disqualifying Fault - The top surface or edges of the tongue red or pink or with one or more spots of red or pink."

Other notable dogs which sometimes have a blue or purple tongue include Pomeranians, Border Collies, Eurasiers, and Siberian Huskies. So, why do some dogs have a purple or blue tongue (or a blue-black tongue)? Read on to find out what you need to know about the dark coloration on a dog's tongue.

Why Are Chow Chow Dog's Tongue Purple?

Even though Chow Chows are one of the world's oldest dog breeds, the exact reason for this unique physical characteristic is still a bit of a mystery. However, we do know how this unusual coloration is caused.

It's all about pigment.

Chow Chows and other dogs have a dark tongue simply because they have extra pigmentation (a large number of pigment cells) in the tongue, causing it to turn blue. In fact, when Chow Chow puppies are first born, these fluffy little furballs are born with pink tongues. Their tongue will darken into a blue-black tongue when they're eight to ten weeks old.

This extra pigmentation is usually nothing to worry about and doesn't indicate any illness like kennel cough or anemia. It's completely normal, like a birthmark on humans. This extra level of pigment can also present itself as black spots or purple spots in other breeds of dogs. Some dogs can even have spotted tongues.

What Other Breeds Have a Purple Tongue or Blue Tongue?

While there are only a handful of dog breeds that have a solid blue tongue/black tongue/purple tongue, some dog breeds just have black spots in their mouths. Some of these include: