Is there anything cuter in this world than a pug’s scrunched up face? There’s something irresistibly adorable in the triangular ears you can’t help but scratch, the black teddy-bear eyes that demand love and affection, and the black muzzle begging for a treat. And let us not forget perhaps the most endearing trait of all: that bubblegum tongue stuck out at every moment.
Why Do Pugs Tongues Hang Out?
Pugs are brachycephalics, or, in layman’s terms, dogs with “squished faces.” This means their genetics have caused their tongue to be too large for the oral cavity, or an abnormal jawbone, which causes their tongue to dangle.
Although in some cases the hanging tongue can represent a health issue or dental issues like missing teeth. It’s extremely important to brush your dog’s teeth on a regular basis with a Pug approved toothpaste.
There isn’t one simple answer why a Pug’s tongue hangs out of their mouth. It could be the cause of relaxation, medication, trauma or injury, or hanging tongue syndrome.
We need to take a look at each reason closer to help you understand.
Typical Pug Reality
If a pug has always had its tongue hanging out, then it is likely not a concern and merely another sign of typical pug adorableness. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, pugs’ heads are not the same shape as other dogs’ noggins. This is a result of years of breeding and simple genetics.
Pugs originated in China about a thousand years ago. It was in this era that they first acquired the scrunched faces that they are now famous for. It is rumored that the Chinese at the time thought the wrinkles brought good luck to the owners.
Now, a millennium later, a lot has changed in the world but the shape of the pug’s head has remained largely the same. While pugs are shorter and stouter than they used to be, their faces are just as squished as ever. This makes them incredibly adorable and often causes their tongues to dangle.
A dog with a long snout has plenty of room to keep its tongue locked up inside. But in the case of pugs and other brachycephalic breeds, the oral cavity has shrunk over generations while the tongue has stayed basically the same size. This means pugs have to let their tongues fall out of their mouths because there’s nowhere else to keep them.
Sun’s Out, Tongue’s Out
An exposed tongue can also be a sign that a pug is very relaxed. You might notice that sleeping pugs are especially prone to letting their tongues hang free. That dangling mass of pink flesh is just a sign that the pug is laying low and letting it all hang out.
This is completely normal and you will see this quite a bit, especially, since Pugs like to sleep a lot.
Hanging Tongue Syndrome
There are times when an exposed tongue could be a cause for concern. Owners should worry if the hanging tongue begins suddenly or becomes dramatically more pronounced. “Hanging tongue syndrome” can occur in all breeds, and can have a number of causes.
Trauma or Injury
If a pug suffers an injury to the head, this can damage their jawline and cause the tongue to hang out. Owners should take their dog to the vet immediately if they suspect this to be the cause.
Some dogs suffer a sudden inability to retract their tongues because of a neurological disorder. Such a problem would likely affect other motor functions as well.
If a pug is having difficulty moving about and seems disoriented in addition to having its tongue hanging out, there is a serious cause for concern and a vet should be sought out immediately.
Sometimes, a change in medication can cause “hanging tongue syndrome” in a dog. If you suspect new meds are causing this change in behavior, it is a good idea to talk to your vet to make sure the current prescription is the right choice for your pug.
Why a Hanging Tongue Can Be A Problem
Constant tongue-hanging, especially if related to an underlying health issue, can be a serious problem for a dog. Having the tongue exposed all the time can cause it to become dry, cracked and painful from being exposed all the time.
It’s no different than when you spend too much time out in the sun and your lips become chapped from being exposed to the sun or dry air in the winter.
If your dog’s tongue hangs out regularly, it could eventually become it will eventually become dry, which will make it impossible for them to pull it inside their mouth to moisten it.
Responsible owners will make sure their pug has constant water to avoid excessive dryness. If you notice any changes in the skin texture, color, bleeding or cracks in the tongue, you should take them to the vet to be checked out.
An exposed tongue is also prone to infection, and, in colder climates, even frostbite. That is why observation is so important.
Final Word on the Pug’s Hanging Tongue
Pugs are beautiful dogs, but their unique shape means owners have a responsibility to take care of any potential problems. Is your pug’s exposed tongue a natural element of its cuteness, or a serious health issue? Ultimately, it is your job as an owner to make this determination.
Typically, a hanging tongue is a standard characteristic of a pug and nothing more. But as you enjoy all that cuteness, don’t forget to keep a close eye on your furry friend to be sure there are no problems.
References And Further Reading
Pilchuck – Hanging Tongue Syndrome
Dog Time – Maggie Clancy – Why Does My Dog’s Tongue Stick Out?
Science Diet – Joan C. Hendricks VMD, PhD – Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome