Why do Chow Chows have blue tongues?

Chow Chows must have a blue tongue to enter a competition as this shows a purebred Chow Chow.
Black adult Chow Chow sitting down with blue tongue pocking out
Why do Chow Chows have blue tongues?

The Chow Chow is such a beautiful creature, and some say it reminds them of a lion or a bear. Originally from Northern China, these dogs are truly fascinating. But why do they have blue tounges? Its a very odd sight when seeing a tongue of a Chow Chow, a blue tongue isn’t what you would expect poking out of a dogs mouth, but it is very typical among all Chow Chows.

Chow Chow dog has a blue tongue because the dog breed has a high level of pigment cells in the tongue, which causes the tongue to turn blue. It’s passed from Chow Chow to Chow Chow during the breeding process, and all purebred Chow Chow’s should have a blue tongue.

What are pigments cells?

A pigment is what makes a dog different in colour. Pigments cells make up fur colour, tongue colour, eye colour, skin colour, paw colour, and every other colour on our dogs. These pigment cells are passed during the breeding process 50% from the dad, and 50% from the mother.

How many pigments are there?

There are only two primary pigments that determine all the colour ranges of our dogs, which is extraordinary considering the number of different types of dog breeds and colours.

Dog Pigments

  • Eumelanin
  • Phaeomelanin

Each of the pigments has a default colour, and with minimal genetic modifications can create many different colours. They either dilute or strengthen the colours.

Default pigment colours of a dog

  • Eumelanin – Default colour is Black
  • Phaeomelanin – Default colour is Red

Eumelanin is responsible for the nose, lips, tongue, eye colour. Wheres, the pigment Phaeomelanin is produced only in and for the fur. Are you wondering about white coated dogs? Since the Phaeomelanin pigment default colour is red. How do you get a white coat on a dog? Well, white dogs lack in pigment resulting in no colour, white is not a colour according to dog genetics.

Are Chow Chows born with blue tounges?

Brown Chow Chow Puppy standing against a white background
Chow Chow Puppy – born with a pink tongue

No, Chow Chows are born with a pink tongue, their tongues will turn blue when they are two months plus. If your Chow Chows tongue doesn’t change colour, it is more than likely that they are not a full-bred Chow Chow.

How long have Chow Chows had a blue tongue for?

Chow Chows have been thought to have blue tongues since the start, but unfortunately, we can’t pinpoint the exact date, and how they become to have blue tounges. However, we do know that in the 1820s London Zoo recorded them to have blue-black coloured tongues. The Chow Chows have been around for a very long time dating back millions of years ago before that of paper and pen was ever invented. From this time the blue-black tongue became a unique characteristic to identify a purebred Chow Chow and is still used today.

Other breeds of dogs that have blue tongues?

  • Chinese Shar-Pei
  • Miniature Shar-Pei
  • Eurasier
  • Thai Ridgeback
  • Phu Quoc Ridgeback

My dog has a blue tongue but isn’t a Chow Chow?

It’s not uncommon for dogs to have high pigmentation, and this clearly shows on the tongue, It could be little spots or even the whole tongue. Its nothing to worry about, and you never know your dog could be a descendent of a Chow Chow or any of the other dog breeds from the list above that have blue tounges.

Other animals with blue/black tounges

  • Polar Bears
  • Giraffes
  • Jersey Cows
  • Angus Cows
  • Blue-Tongue Lizard
  • Impalas
  • Okapis

Competition entry

Chow Chows must have a blue tongue to enter a competition as this shows a purebred Chow Chow.

Conclusion

The blue tongue is from extra pigment cells called Eumelanin found in the dog breeds DNA, and it defines each type of dog breed. The strange blue tongue also seems to be shared by other animals as well as other dog breeds. We know that it’s down to the genes of an animal or dog that makes the blue tongue. To recognise purebred Chow Chow, they must have a full blue tongue, and this is what one of the must-haves for a Chow Chow to be able to enter into a competition.

About the Author

Teresa loves animals and travelling around the UK! She currently has two dogs and two cats. She loves caring for and sharing her knowledge of pets. She is a qualified dog groomer and currently studying canine behaviour. She has been part of the Dog Friendly Team since 2016.