Does your dog’s tongue always seem to be hanging out of his mouth? If so, it is not too surprising. Dog’s have long tongues and they use them a lot!
In most cases, a dog sticks his tongue out so he can pant and gain better access to oxygen. Additionally, your dog may be eager to taste things as he explores, and some dogs have large tongues that tend to hang out. Less frequently, a protruding tongue could indicate a health issue.
Keep reading to learn more.
Your Dog is Not Being Rude When He Sticks Out His Tongue!
Compared to humans, dogs have very large tongues and mouths. Therefore, it is not unusual to see those tongues sticking out. This is normal since dogs rely on tongues to eat, taste, lick, explore, groom, and show affection. Some dogs, more than others, like to let their tongues hang out while relaxing. Usually, this is not something to be concerned about.
Dogs do not have sweat glands throughout their body like humans, only in their toe pads. A dog’s furry coat helps to insulate from harsh climate conditions, but it may also help heat them up faster on hot days. Dog’s maintain an average body temperature of 104 degrees, and they have a faster metabolism than we do, so they need to be able to cool down quickly.
This is when their large tongues can be very useful. Sticking their tongues out allows a lot of moisture to be recirculated into their respiratory system to cool them down. Additionally, their tongue will extend and naturally stick out as they open their mouths to bring in more air. Much like using swamp coolers years ago or blowing fans over ice to cool our homes, this is a dog’s way of doing it!
Tasting the Air
My dog Georgia, who has a lot of Pug DNA, loves to taste and lick everything! She frequently walks around with her tongue sticking out in the kitchen, our backyard, and the park. She is always ready to inhale any errant crumb that may have fallen in the kitchen and keeps my floor clean! In addition, she is always on the lookout and prepared to sample tasty-looking leaves, or someone’s discarded stale french fries on our walks.
Sometimes, a dog may sniff the air and use a slightly opened mouth and curled-up lip to expose their teeth and tongue. This facilitates a dog’s ability to pick up scents and pheromones left by other animals. That is because dogs have ducts in the roof of their mouths that leads to a vomeronasal organ that takes in these scents. This is sometimes called the Flehman Response and can make a dog look like he is grinning or laughing.
Dogs Stick Their Tongues Out Because they Love to Lick!
When I wake up in the morning, I often see my dog Georgia moving toward me with her tongue sticking out, and I know I am about to be licked on the nose (see our story)! I also notice my dogs lick each other’s faces, eyes, and ears to groom one another. If they are experiencing seasonal allergies, they will start licking their feet, which tend to get itchy in the spring.
Dogs Are Very Expressive
When dogs are excited or happy, they may run around with their tongues stuck out. As dogs play and explore, they are often ready to lick someone or taste something. The more worked up and excited they get, the hotter they become, thus having a need to pant.
My dogs sometimes stick their tongues out and lick their lips as I prepare their dinner. They do this because they are drooling and can barely wait for me to put food in their bowls. You would think I never feed them, but the scale says otherwise.
Physical Reasons for Protuding Tongues
Some dog’s are born with or develop physical attributes that cause their tongue to protrude:
- Missing teeth
- Over or underbite
My dog Georgia has an adorable underbite that does not seem to be a problem. But it makes her look a little more lovable, and sometimes I can see the tip of her tongue when she naps.
Medical Problems to Be Aware Of
Medical conditions can also cause dogs to stick out or hang their tongues outside their mouths.
- Severe Dental Disease
- Oral Cancer
- Hanging Tongue Syndrome
If you have not noticed your dog sticking or hanging his tongue out in the past, and this is a new development, take him to the vet for a check-up. It could indicate that he has swelling or obstructions from a significant dental problem, or it could be from a malignant mass.
Small dogs with smushed faces, such as Pugs or French Bulldogs, may have Hanging Tongue Syndrome as their mouths are too small to accommodate their tongues. Usually, this is not a problem, but your dog’s health should always be monitored, especially for conditions such as Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS), common in Pugs and Bulldogs. Breathing can be a problem with these dogs; a hanging tongue may be a symptom of this disorder.
When a dog sticks his or her tongue out, it is usually normal behavior. This is because dogs are very oral creatures and use their tongues to help them explore their world. But if you notice something different about your pooch’s tongue or breathing, schedule a medical appointment for a complete check-up.
Deanna Euritt is a dedicated dog enthusiast with over three decades of experience in raising and training a diverse range of dogs, including many rescue pups. Her practical expertise is rooted in real-life experiences, where she has successfully navigated the challenges of nurturing rescue dogs into confident, well-adjusted companions. Residing in Northern California, Deanna’s days are filled with adventures along trails and beaches with her beloved dogs, Charlotte and Georgia. In her writing, she offers insightful, compassionate advice to fellow dog lovers, leveraging her extensive personal journey in the world of dog care and training. See About Us.