Today is #TongueOutTuesday, and on most Tuesdays on social media, it’s an invitation to share photos of dogs with their tongues out. Far be it for us to buck a trend, so by all means, share your photos with us, too.
But it got us to wondering how we could make this exercise a bit more educational, and that make us think of breed standards, the “architectural blueprint” for a breed. Do any of them mention the tongue?
Actually, yes, and all references have to do with color, “voice,” or the tongue’s position in the mouth.
Not surprisingly, any mention of “tongues” in the Hound group have to do with the breed’s voice, and only two breeds mention it: The Bluetick “should be a free tonguer on trail, with a medium bawl or bugle voice when striking and trailing, which may change to a steady chop when running and a steady coarse chop at the tree,” and the Dachshund: “His hunting spirit, good nose, loud tongue and distinctive build make him well-suited for below.
Only one sporting breed mentions “tongue,” and interestingly, it, too, has to do with the dog’s voice: The Sussex Spaniel: “Its short legs, massive build, long body, and habit of giving tongue when on scent made the breed ideally suited to penetrating the dense undergrowth and flushing game within range of the gun.”
No Terrier, Herding, or current miscellaneous breed mentions the word at all, but the Non Sporting group has five breeds which mention “tongue:”
In the Chinese Shar-Pei, a solid pink tongue is a disqualification, but there’s more: “Tongue, roof of mouth, gums and flews – solid bluish-black is preferred in all coat colors except in dilute colors, which have a solid lavender pigmentation. A spotted pink tongue is a major fault. A solid pink tongue is a disqualification. (Tongue colors may lighten due to heat stress; care must be taken not to confuse dilute pigmentation with a pink tongue.”
Pink or red on the tongue are also DQs in the Chow Chow: “The top surface or edges of the tongue red or pink or with one or more spots of red or pink.” It goes on: “Essential to true Chow type are his unique blue-black tongue…”
Positioning of the tongue is mentioned in the Boston Terrier (“Any showing of the tongue or teeth when the mouth is closed”) as well as the French Bulldog (“Flews black, thick and broad, hanging over the lower jaw at the sides, meeting the underlip in front and covering the teeth and tongue, which are not seen when the mouth is closed”). In the Tibetan Spaniel, a protruding tongue is a fault.
The Toy Group has the most mentions of “tongue” with six breeds, and every one of them mentions it in reference to the tongue’s position:
A “hanging tongue” is a disqualification in the Brussels Griffon, and in the Affenpinscher, “the teeth and tongue do not show when the mouth is closed.” In the English Toy Spaniel, “a hanging tongue is extremely objectionable.” The “tongue must not be visible when jaws are closed” in a Papillon, and “neither teeth nor tongue show when the mouth is closed” in a Pekingese. A Shih Tzu’s “teeth and tongue should not show when mouth is closed.”
Tongues are vitally important in all breeds as they aid in digestion, smell, eating, and cooling down the body. If you noticed, however, a tongue’s position warrants mention in smaller Non-Sporting breeds, and several toy breeds. Why?
Appropriate proportions in a toy or smaller breed’s head are crucial for the well being of the dog. Some poorly bred dogs have tongues too large for their oral cavity, abnormal jaw bones that don’t properly support the tongue, or Hanging Tongue Syndrome seen when the dog’s tongue hangs out of his or her mouth leading to dried out or swollen tongues. Heritage breeders pay attention to this by giving great heed to heads and good bites in their breeding dogs, bites being important, in part, because they keep the dog’s tongue in its mouth. Breeding is so much more than putting two dogs together and voila, puppies. Good breeders, the ones invested in their breeds and the soundness of subsequent puppies, pay attention to the little things which to a dog, isn’t little at all.