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Curiosity – Why do Chow Chows have a blue tongue?

February 10th, 2020
The Chow Chow’s blue-black tongue
The Chow Chow’s blue-black tongue

Definitely, The Chow Chow’s blue-black tongue sets it apart from almost every other dog breed. But why do Chows have blue tongues?

Chow Chows, also known as Chows, are one of the world’s oldest dog breeds. Some of the tales that explain this mystery include the belief that, when the world was created, Chow Chows were allowed to lick up all the little pieces of blue sky that fell on the earth, when the stars were set in their places, or they inherited their tongues from a bear. However, while the Chow Chow’s appearance is certainly bearish, the real reason for the distinctive tongue remains unknown.

What we do know is that Chows had their blue tongues in the 1820s when they were exhibited at the London Zoo as “the wild dogs of China.” Caretakers noticed the blue-black coloring of their mouths and tongue, and, as managed breeding began, this unique characteristic was used as a requirement for identifying purebred offspring. This requirement continues today.

The interesting thing is that Chow Chows are not born with blue tongues. In fact, Chow Chow puppies have pink tongues, just like other breeds. The blue-black color develops as their eyes open. The tongue pigment must always be complete by the time the puppy is about six months old.

The Chow’s blue tongue makes it unique in the dog world, with one exception: the Chinese Shar-Pei. Like the Chow Chow, the Shar-Pei’s breed standard requires bluish-black pigmentation in the mouth and tongue, with exceptions made for dilute colors, which may have lavender pigmentation.

Chow Chows and Chinese Shar-Pei probably share distant ancestors, which explains the similarity between the two. They also share their blue-black tongues with polar bears, giraffes, and several breeds of cattle.