Why do Chihuahuas stick their tongue out?
Sure – they look very cute when they do but it can be a matter of concern for first time Chi owners. Many times, there is a simple explanation behind ‘why do Chihuahuas stick their tongue out’ – including oral injuries, missing teeth, or simply because they have a longer tongue.
In rare cases, a neurological issue may be the cause.
Let us understand reasons ‘why do Chihuahuas stick their tongue out’.
Why do Chihuahuas Stick Their Tongue Out?
Almost all dogs stick their tongues out when they pant to cool down but certain dog breeds are known to have permanently hanging tongues.
Here are some reasons ‘why do Chihuahuas stick their tongue out’:
1. Oral issues and dental problems
One of the most common reasons why Chis stick their tongues out is due to oral problems. An inflammation of the oral tissues, ulcers, missing, broken or loose teeth, dental surgery, gum disease, periodontal disease, etc. are some common problems that could cause Chihuahuas to stick their tongues out.
Chelitis or inflamed lips can also cause this problem. Sometimes, the tongue itself might be injured or inflamed and sticking it out might help your Chi relieve the pain and burning sensation.
Some other oral problems that cause dog tongue to stick out include under bite and over bite. Many Chihuahuas have an overbite where the lower jaw is significantly shorter than the upper jaw. This is a genetic issue so if your Chi’s parent has had it, chances are your pet could too. In Chihuahua puppies, this often resolves on its own at maturity.
Then there are Chihuahuas with deformed teeth. Dental deformities can also be the answer to ‘why do Chihuahuas stick their tongue out’. Such deformities can occur due to medication, genetic issues, or trauma.
2. Panting to cool down
Chihuahuas, like all dogs, pant to cool down. In this case too, your Chi might have its tongue sticking out.
Of course, this is a temporary thing and once your pet has regulated its body temperature, it might put its tongue back in.
If the panting goes on for a prolonged period or/and is accompanied by restlessness, then please see your vet.
3. Long tongue
There is a South American Native Legend that explains why some dogs have long tongues. It talks of a hunter named Running Water who got so angry with his dog’s tattling (dogs could talk back then!) that he pulls hard on its tongue.
And that is the reason why all dogs have long tongues.
Legends aside, most Chihuahuas with their tiny mouths have longer tongues.
The tongue tends to also get longer in dogs (unlike humans) when they drink water or want to regulate their temperature.
Then there are some Chihuahuas with oral issues that can also cause longer-than-average tongues. Naturally, they do not fit properly in their small mouths which causes them to stick out permanently.
4. Hanging tongue syndrome
Chihuahua dog breed sometimes suffers from the Hanging Tongue Syndrome. It is a genetic issue that causes the dog’s tongue to permanently stick out.
Other than genes, this condition can also occur due to deformities. Loss of teeth or broken teeth can also cause hanging tongue because there is no place to rest the tongue on.
Other breeds that suffer from this syndrome are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Mexican hairless dogs, and small brachycephalic breeds like Pugs. It is also seen in larger dog breeds like German Shepherds and St. Bernards.
Injuries to the head, jaw, tongue, etc. can also cause your tiny dog tongue to hang out.
6. When you pet your Chi
Some Chihuahuas stick their tongues out when you pet them. This is a clear sign that it wants to lick you. Naturally, this won’t cause your pet’s tongue to stick out permanently and will only be seen occasionally.
7. Neurological issues
Dog ataxia, macroglossia, seizures caused by epilepsy and endocrine disorders, paralysis and other neurological issues can cause a Chihuahuas tongue to protrude out.
8. Relaxation of the jaw
Some Chihuahuas also rest their tongue outside their mouth when they sleep. This happens unconsciously when your pet has relaxed its jaw muscles. Some Chihuahuas might also unknowingly let their tongue out when they are content and happy.
9. Certain medications
If your pet is on special medications that cause its jaw to relax, then too its tongue could protrude out. This is temporary and can resolve once your pet’s medication is stopped.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Hanging Tongue Syndrome in Chihuahuas? Is It Painful?
Hanging Tongue syndrome occurs when your Chihuahua’s tongue does not retract into its mouth but protrudes outwards due to anatomical or neurological defects.
Other signs and symptoms of hanging tongue syndrome are:
- Mouth odor that lingers despite brushing
- Bleeding tongue
- Swollen or cracked tongue
- Broken, missing, loose teeth
- Discolored tongue
- Thickening of the tongue
- Excess drooling
Hanging tongue syndrome could be painful depending on the cause of the syndrome. If your pet’s tongue is swollen or thickened, then chances are that it could experience pain. Also, if the gums are bleeding or your pet has missing teeth or jaw deformity, then too it might experience pain and difficulty during eating.
In cold countries, Chihuahuas with hanging tongue could be at a greater risk of frostbite so you will have to take special care to keep your buddy warm. Please avoid taking your Chi outdoors when the temperatures are freezing. If frostbite does occur, your vet might recommend surgery to remove the tip of the tongue.
Conversely, in summers, your Chi’s tongue could get sunburnt when it is exposed to the scorching sun. It can develop cracks and dryness which could even result in a bleeding tongue.
Since Chihuahuas are tiny dogs, their hanging tongues often reach the floor, especially when they sit down or sleep, or sniff objects their walks. They unknowingly pick up microbes from the dirty surfaces leading to infections, gastric troubles, etc.
How Is Hanging Tongue Diagnosed in a Chi?
Firstly, your vet will conduct a thorough physical examination for your Chi – especially its tongue, teeth, gums, and oral cavity.
Based on the preliminary exam, you vet might order a series of tests including complete blood work, urine analysis, and other standard tests like biochemical profile.
To rule out neurological causes, your vet might even perform a series of tests to check your pet’s nerve reflexes.
S/he might ask you questions about your Chi; is there difficulty walking, how its appetite is, any tilting of head, problems with gait and movement, blindness, etc.
Based on the test results and your answers, your veterinarian will then recommend the best treatment for hanging tongue in your Chihuahua.
Do All Chihuahuas Stick Their Tongue Out?
No, not all Chihuahuas stick their tongue out. The hanging tongue syndrome, as explained above, typically has some genetic, anatomical, or neurological causes. Normal tongue protrusion occurs when your Chi is relaxed or during panting when it cools down its body temperature.
If you have suddenly started seeing your Chi’s tongue sticking out constantly, please monitor your pet. If it shows signs of pain, head tilting, or other abnormal behavior, then do see your vet right away.
The good news is that most Chihuahuas that are diagnosed with the hanging tongue syndrome can still live normal lives with proper care.
You only need to monitor it from time to time and make sure that the tongue isn’t swollen, discolored, or bleeding. Also, in winters, you may want to keep your Chi indoors to prevent frostbite, especially in freezing temperatures.
Do Chihuahuas Puppies also Stick Their Tongue Out?
Not only Chihuahuas, almost all puppies, irrespective of their breed, do cute antics from time to time, and that includes sticking their tongues out.
That does not mean that your pup has the hanging tongue syndrome.
Many Chihuahua puppies stick their tongue out while sleeping because their jaw is relaxed. This automatically leaves their tongues protruding out.
Mostly, hanging tongue that occurs due to underbite, overbite, or other jaw/dental issues is seen in adult or older dogs.
Also, if hanging tongue does occur in a puppy, it might even resolve on its own once your pup has developed all of its adult teeth.
What Treatment Options Are There for Chihuahua’s Hanging Tongue Syndrome?
There are not too many treatment options for the Hanging Tongue syndrome and one can only manage the condition.
In some dogs, tongue amputation surgery can help although most vets recommend against it.
Surgery for hanging tongue includes removing a portion of the tongue. This can cause a lot of pain to your dog and could greatly impact its quality of life.
In addition, the tongue being very vascular, it might bleed for days post-surgery. Therefore, you will have to take great care and ensure that it heals quickly.
How to Manage Chihuahuas Hanging Tongue Syndrome?
The main issue with your Chihuahua’s hanging tongue is that it can get very dry from sticking out.
To prevent the tongue from cracking, use the following natural remedies:
1. Lubricate it
Apply some olive oil or coconut oil to your Chihuahua’s tongue. This will prevent it from drying out. The added advantage of this remedy is that your pet will also get a healthier, shinier coat!
2. Keep your pet hydrated
Make sure your Chihuahua drinks water 3-4 times a day to prevent tongue dryness and cracking. If your Chi is not fond of water, add some broth, stew, etc. to its diet.
3. Encourage it to lick ice cubes
Provide your Chi with some frozen ice cubes to lick from time to time. You can also freeze its broth and give it for encouraging lubrication and preventing the tongue from drying.
4. Use a syringe to squirt water in its mouth
For Chihuahuas that don’t drink water, you can prevent tongue dryness or cracking by squirting water in its mouth directly using a syringe.
Please watch out for signs like cracked/bleeding tongue and changes in normal color of the tongue. If these signs occur, please see your vet.
FAQs on Why Do Chihuahuas Stick Their Tongue Out?
1. Why does my Chihuahua stick out its tongue and lick its lips?
Many dogs stick their tongues out and lick their lips when begging for food. This is also a gesture to show appeasement especially when they feel threatened, nervous, or anxious.
Some Chihuahuas will stick their tongues out and lick their lips when they are nauseated, have some kind of oral problems or pain and discomfort.
2. What does a Chihuahua ‘Blep’ mean?
Blepping is the slang term given to a Chihuahua with its tongue sticking out. It was derived by people on social media when they posted photos of their Chihuahuas with their tongues sticking out. The ‘unleashing’ of the Chihuahua tongue is referred to as the ‘Blep’.
3. Which dog has the longest tongue in the world?
A Saint Bernard from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Mochi is known for the longest tongue – 7.3 inches long!
4. Are dogs’ tongues antiseptic?
Dogs groom and lick themselves with their tongues to place some of their saliva on their itchy or sore skin. However, it is a myth that they have antiseptic tongues. There are both good and harmful bacteria living in your dog’s mouth.
Conclusion – Why Do Chihuahuas Stick Their Tongue Out?
A number of factors can cause the hanging tongue syndrome in Chihuahuas. Most commonly, they stick their tongues out to cool their bodies down. Sometimes, they do so to plant slobbery licks on you.
In rare cases, dental problems, missing or loose teeth, and underbite/overbite can cause a Chihuahua’s tongue to stick out too.
If your Chi does have the hanging tongue syndrome, then make sure to take good care of it so that it won’t dry out or crack and bleed. In rare cases, your doctor might suggest tongue removal surgery which can permanently resolve the issue.