Chow Tongue – Everything You Need To Know

Chow Chow’s tongue is a unique feature you would notice besides his beautiful fur that attracts anyone. So don’t be surprised when your Chow opens his mouth for the first time you see him. You will misinterpret that he would have just eaten up a grape candy for the color of the Chow’s tongue. 

Chow Chow’s tongue is distinctly blue, purple, or black colored due to the high-level pigmentation. It is hereditary, and all purebred Chow Chows must have a blue tongue. However, there are some breeds besides Chow Chow that have blue tongues. Other factors can also result in blue coloration. Let us scroll down the post to know the reason behind Chow’s blue tongue and its characteristics.

Why is Chow’s Tongue Blue?

What is A Blue Tongue?

Instead of the conventional pink color of tongues that living creatures bear, Chow Chows and a few other dog breeds have blue tongues. This is because of the pigmented tongue cells that cause the blue coloration, similar to the types of cells that decide the tongue color of human beings.

Blue Tongue

Are Chow Chows born with Blue Tongue?

The answer is “no.” They are not born with blue tongues. So what could be the color of a Chow Chow’s tongue? They are born with pink tongues that change to blue when they are 2-3 months old. After that, it starts with the onset of blue spots that turn into dark patches, and finally, the tongue changes to dark blue-black or purple. However, these transformations occur over a few weeks while the Chow Chow pup is about eight to ten weeks old. 

If your Chow Chow’s tongue doesn’t turn blue, then there are more chances that they are not fully bred Chow Chows. Further, there are possibilities that some Chow Chows may tend to lose the pigmented blue cells of their tongue and return to pinkish color as they grow. 

Note: In addition to blue tongues, Chow Chows have 44 teeth, a distinct feature from other dogs with 42 teeth.

How Long have Chow Chows Had a Blue Tongue?

Chow Chow has been thought to have blue tongues dating back to the 1820s. However, the London Zoo first recorded these Chow Chows as blue-black tongues. Also, it’s recorded that Chow Chows originated in China 2000 years ago.

Do all Chow Chows have Blue Tongues?

No. Some Chow Chows may not have full bluish-black tongues, although they may have tiny pink spots on their tongue. Adult Chow Chows or Chow Chows with light cinnamon and blue coat shades may lose tongue color as they grow and have pink dots. A Chow Chow without a blue tongue cannot participate in any canine competitions.

Note: The breed standards for Chow Chow are:

  • Mouth: The lip’s edges, mouth tissues, and gums are black. Ideally, the mouth is solid black.
  • Tongue: Top surface and edges are solid blue and black. The darker the tongue, the better the health and breed requirement.
  • Disqualifying fault: Top surface and edges of the tongue should not be red, pink, or with one or more red/pink spots.

Chow Chow Personality

Chow Chows are from ancient China. They stand around 17 to 21 inches tall, weigh between 40 and 80 pounds, and are medium-sized dogs. Chow Chows are heavily built dogs with lush, fluffy, dense coats, dark brown eyes, quadrilateral ears rounded at the ends, and straight hindquarters. Their noses are large and black, mouths are short and squared, and tongues are blue. Their bodies are compact and deep-chested, and their tails are bushy positioned high.

Chow Chows bear crimson coats that are fluffy and thick, and their tongues are blue-black or purple. Chow Chow’s coat colors come in many colors: 

  • Blue
  • Red
  • Fawn
  • Cinnamon
  • Grey
  • Black
  • White

Chow Chow’s thick coat makes it resemble a lion. Sometimes they even look like bear cubs. Their coats act as insulation to guard them against winters. 

Chow Chow Temperament

Chow Chows are loyal, watchful, stubborn, and calm-natured. However, they are reserved, obstinate, and self-sufficient. Chow Chows were raised as guard dogs. Therefore, pet owners should socialize these cuddling dogs when puppies, not to show their dominance over other pets. They are also known as “war dogs” as they fight alongside their owners in times of danger. Marco Polo greatly admired these dogs for their strength and agility. Due to these traits, they are also used as temple guard dogs in China and Tibet.

Chows are non-hypoallergenic dogs. A Chow Chow’s life span is between 8 and 12 years. However, many can live up to 15 years if proper care is taken. 

Chow Chow Exercise and Training 

Training Chow Chows from the beginning is vital to overcome their stubborn nature, aggressiveness, and loneliness. They need proper obedience and socialization training. Pet parents should be persistent and patient while training them. Positive reinforcements will work excellently, along with lots of treats and generosity. 

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Take your Chow Chows for daily walks for 15 minutes, which would meet their exercise requirements. However, since they are intolerant to heat, it is suggested to keep them indoors. Puzzles and toys can keep them engaging.

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Chow Chow Grooming 

Chow Chows are double-coated and require regular grooming. Professional groomers recommend brushing them three times weekly to keep their coats shiny and remove voluptuous fur. Cleaning their teeth and cutting their nails are also essential. Brush their teeth twice a week to reduce tartar build-up, and trim their nails once or twice a month. Remember to clean their eyes and ears to avoid allergies and infections.

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Chow Chow Health

Chow Chows are healthy dogs. However, they are prone to specific genetic and health conditions inherited from parents or developed due to improper training, exercise, nutrition, and environment.

Patellar Luxation:  Knee Dysplasia, also known as Patellar Luxation, is a condition that affects both parent breeds. The kneecap dislocation can be excruciatingly painful, causing the dog to avoid leaning on the injured leg.

Signs of the luxating patella in dogs:

  • While your dog runs along, he may suddenly pick up the back leg and hop for some time. 
  • He may kick his leg sideways to get the kneecap back in position, which is normal.

Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a painful, life-threatening condition caused when the bones of the rear legs don’t fit properly in the joints. Hip dysplasia is primarily hereditary, but injuries, excessive weight gain, and wrong exercises can cause hip dysplasia. Some dogs might exhibit symptoms, while some might not. Treatment ranges from medication to replacement of the hip through surgeries. To avoid this problem, do not breed a dog who has the issue of hip dysplasia. Regular checkups are suggested as this condition causes defects or damage to the hip bones joints and worsens without treatment.

Other Causes of Hip Dysplasia: 

  • Injuries 
  • Excessive weight gain 
  • Wrong exercises 

Symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs include:

  • Reduced activity and movements
  • Reluctance to rise, jump, run, or climb
  • Lameness in the hind limbs
  • Reducing thigh muscle mass
  • Swaying, “bunny hopping” gait
  • Grating in the joint during movement
  • Enlarging shoulders
  • Pain
  • Stiffness

Elbow Dysplasia:  Elbow Dysplasia is a heritable condition commonly seen in large-breed dogs. This disease is caused due to different growth rates of the three bones that form the dog’s elbow, causing joint laxity and painful lameness.


  • Mild to moderate pain  
  • Lameness in the forelimbs  

Although the symptoms begin to show as early as four months, some dogs will not show these signs until later in life. Further, this may involve both elbows, but one of them may be heavily affected.

Obesity: Chow Chows are prone to obesity as they are obsessive eaters. They inherit this character from their parents. 

Symptoms of Obesity in Dogs:

  • Lethargic and inactive
  • Incapable of movement

Bloat: Bloat, also known as gastric torsion and gastric dilatation-volvulus syndrome, is a potentially fatal condition that occurs when a dog’s stomach fills with gas and twists.

Entropion: This condition is caused due to the facial shape, which is acquired genetically. It is more prevalent in short-nosed, brachycephalic dogs like Chows. This genetic condition builds up tension on the ligaments of the inner eye that causes the eyelids to roll inward. 

Signs of Entropion in Dogs

  • Squinting
  • Excessive tearing
  • Eye discharge
  • Swelling around eyes
  • Frequent rubbing of the eyes
  • Eye redness
  • Excessive blinking
  • Corneal ulcers

Skin Problems: The continual scratching or licking of your Chow Chow can be annoying, but don’t blame your dog for his bad behavior; the skin issue is to be blamed. Parasites, allergies, and underlying sickness are all possible reasons. The following are the symptoms of skin problems in Chow Chow:

  • Skin Sores
  • Dry Skin
  • Rashes
  • Lumps
  • Redness
  • Dandruff
  • Bumps
  • Sunburns
  • Hair Loss

Throat Disorders: Chow Chows may have a congenital condition that causes swallowing, eating, and breathing difficulties. A soft palate at the back of the throat, this stretched-out palate makes it even more challenging to anesthetize Chow Chows.

Diet and Nutrition: A healthy diet quantity prescribed by the vet that contains high-quality wet or dry dog food should be divided into two meals, depending on the size of your Chow Chow.

Are All Dogs with Blue Tongues Chow Chow?

Many other purebred dogs have blue spots or patches on their tongues, but they need not be Chow Mixes. They can bear freckles or spots on their tongue, which is expected.

Other Dog Breeds with Blue Tongue

The Chinese Shar Pei

The Eurasiers

Thai Ridgeback

Phu Quoc Ridgeback

Belgian Malinois

Extra pigmentation of cells is common and a varied tongue color is found in more than 30 dog breeds. A few are listed below:

  • Dalmatian
  • Fila Brasileiro
  • Mountain Cur
  • Shiloh Shepherd
  • Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
  • Kai Ken
  • Black Russian Terrier
  • Korean Jindo
  • Tibetan Mastiff
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Pomeranian
  • Golden Retriever

While some breeds in the list have thick blue tongues, others may have light blue shades depending on the pigmentation.

Are Blue Tongues Dangerous in Other Dog Breeds?

While it is common to bear a blue tongue in Chow Chows, it may not be the same in other dog breeds. If your canine has a blue pigmented tongue not having to do with his genetic traits, then the chances are likely that they could be a sign of scarcity of oxygen supply to the mucous membranes. However, as discussed earlier, it is not unusual for canines to bear high pigmentation. This can be visible on the tongue. It could be tiny spots or the whole tongue sometimes. Therefore, there can be some probability that these dogs can be descended from Chow Chow ancestors or any dog breeds with blue tongues mentioned above. 

What Are The Factors For the Blue Coloration of Tongue?

Some factors that cause the tongue to be blue are listed below:

What are the factors for the blue coloration of the tongue?


Pigmentation is a process that provides color to the skin, formed by pigment cells. 

What are Pigment Cells?

Pigment Cells are those that help dogs bear different colors. Pigment Cells develop the color of a dog’s fur, tongue, eyes, skin, paws, ears, and nose. These cells are transmitted during the breeding process on a 50-50 percentage from each of the parents.

How many Pigments Are There?

Two primary pigments determine the colors of our canine friends.

  • Eumelanin
  • Pheomelanin

Each pigment has a standard color, with minimal genetic alterations that can develop various colors. This can strengthen or dilute the shade.

Default Pigment colors of a dog

  • Eumelanin: This pigment’s standard color is black. Eumelanin is found in the nose, tongue, lips, and eyes.
  • Pheomelanin: This pigment’s standard color is red. Pheomelanin is responsible for the coloration of coats.

Note: The White coated dogs lack the pigment Pheomelanin, resulting in no coloration. White is not a standard color according to the dog’s genetics. 

Insufficient Blood flow and Oxygen supply

The second major factor in the blue tongue is insufficient blood flow and oxygen supply in the canine body. Therefore, if your dog has a pink tongue and accidentally faces breathing difficulty or is frail with a blue tongue, it is better to approach your local vet and do the necessary treatments to regain your pet’s health.    

Legend Behind the Blue Tongue

The Chinese legends show some myths behind the blue tongue in dogs. For example, one myth says that when the world evolved, some parts of the blue azure fell on the ground, and some canines saw that and went to the crash spot of the blue azure. On reaching the site, these canines licked the blue-tinted sky that had fallen to the ground. According to legend, this caused the dogs to bear a blue tongue.

Another legend says that the Chow Chow was a dragon dog. These Chows loved the bright sky so much that they licked the night. As a result, the starry sky was dispelled forever. Gods then got annoyed and punished the Chow Chows for their sins. From there on, Chow Chows were cursed to bear a blue-colored tongue that would remind them of the erroneous act until the end of their lives.

Other Fascinating Facts About Chow Chows

  • Chow Chows are the only dog breeds with characteristic blue lips and palates.
  • A theory says that these Chow Chows come from a mix of a canine and a bear, Hemicyon. An odd fact supporting this theory shows that the Hemicyon has fossils that indicate 44 teeth, and the Chow Chows also have 44 teeth.  
  • Their nearly straight hind legs are more linear than most other dogs, giving them a distinct stilted gait.
  • One Chinese ruler adored the Chow Chow breed so much that he had around 5000 of them.
  • Many personalities like President Calvin Coolidge, Georgia O’Keeffe, Martha Stewart, Konrad Lorez, Sigmund Freud, Janet Jackson, Queen Victoria, Maria Balotelli, and Elvis Presley had Chow Chows as their pets.
  • Walt Disney presented his wife with a Chow Chow puppy. To make it a surprise, he kept the puppy in a hatbox which he then gifted his wife. 
  • Some theories say that Chow Chows descended from the Spitz dog group. 
  • Finally, fascinating enough, since the name Chow Chow is an English term, the Chinese do not call this dog that name. Instead, they use the word – Songshi Quan.

Fascinating Facts About Chow Chows

Are There Other Animals With A Blue Tongue?

Apart from the dog breeds, some animals also bear a “Blue Tongue”:

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

Final Thoughts

Although Chow Chows are fussy, they can still make loyal and beautiful companions. The price of training your Chow is unpaired, and you will undoubtedly become a better dog parent by knowing how to live with a Chow. Additionally, the presence of a blue tongue in these canines is so critical that, had the tongue borne a red or pink top surface or had one or more spots of red or pink, it is considered a disqualifying flaw.

Summing up all the facts discussed above, the blue tongue is formed by the extra pigment cells Eumelanin found in the dog’s DNA and other animals. Thus, a well-known fact is that an animal’s genes determine the tongue’s color. Therefore, to identify a purebred Chow Chow, they must bear a whole blue tongue, and it is a qualifying factor for these breeds to enter into dog shows or competitions.


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