Chinese dog breeds are ancient, mysterious and unique. And a lot of them share one very distinctive appearance trait – and that is the blue-black tongue. The most famous Chinese breeds with blue-black tongue are definitely the Chow Chow and Shar-Pei, but the list does not end here. There is also, for example, the Laizhou Hong, Chongqing Dog, Formosan dog or Chuandog Hound. All these Chinese breeds must have, or at least, they have the chance to have the blue colored tongue.
But what is causing this uniquely colored tongue? Well, even the scientists do not have 100% proof about it, but there are some theories about it.
But before we will talk about the scientific theories, lets mention some old legends explaining this tongue coloration. You know, some of these dogs are extremely old, definitely one of the most ancient breeds we have today. And back than, people created some tales about their dogs tongues.
One of them says that when Buddha was creating the world, 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, so they got their blue tongue from the sky.
Another tale is also linked with Buddhism. On a very cold day, a long time ago, a Buddhist monk became very ill. He was so ill that he was incapacitated and could not go out to get firewood to warm himself. The Chow Chows went out into the cold in search of firewood for the monk, but unfortunately all they could find were charred logs. When they were brought back to their mouths, the charring caused their tongues to turn this bluish-black color.
In reality, the coloration is caused by the presence of pigmented cells, similar to the same types of cells that determine the color of human skin. They share this trait with other animals as well, such as different lizzards, giraffes, several breeds of cattle or bears. And interestingly, the bear similarity might not be coincidental.
Some scientists belive, that all these Chinese dogs share ancestry with some very old and ancient dog type from China, that probably evolved from a so called Hemicyon, also known as dog-bear, an intermediate between bears and their canid ancestors.
Of course, it is practically impossible to scientifically support this idea as a fact, but it is not completely unrealistic neither.
BTW, Chinese dog breeds are not the only dog breeds that can have blue-black tongues. Labradors or Newfoundlands can also have blue or black spots on their tongues, but it is rather rare. But the Chinese breeds, notably the Chow Chow and Shar-Pei must have this blue-black tongue as it is part of their breed standard and it is viewed as a fault, if the tongue have different color.