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8 Reasons Your Dog Sticks Its Tongue Out

The internet loves a video of a dog with their tongue sticking out. It’s cute, it’s quirky, and it gives your pet a fun personality online. They may look a little goofy, but chances are they’re not doing it to give you a laugh. 

Why do dogs stick their tongue out? There are a couple of reasons why your best furry friend may leave their tongue sticking out, even when they’re not actively licking you. Here are some of the most common ones. 


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Why Do Dogs Stick Their Tongue Out?

From completely harmless to fairly frightening, your pet may be letting their tongue loll out for any of these reasons. 

1. They’re Too Hot

If your canine buddy’s mouth is open and his tongue is hanging while they pant, there’s a good chance they’re hot. Dogs don’t sweat, not like we do. So sticking their tongue out and panting to circulate fresh air and encourage evaporation of water from their tongues and lungs is how they cool down rapidly. 

If they seem sluggish, confused, and are panting very hard, it’s possible they’ve developed heatstroke, in which case a trip to the vet is in order. You can help your furry friend keep chilled on those extra hot days with a cooling mat or by misting their stomach with some water in a spray bottle


Image by Elena Rogulina from Pixabay

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2. They’re Relaxed

A tongue hanging out can be an indication that your furball is extremely relaxed or comfortable. Some dogs get uber relaxed when they sleep, or even if they’re just chilling beside their favorite person, and their tongue lolls accordingly. 
Sometimes if you give your friend some belly rubs or cuddles, they may stick out their tongue. This means that you’re making them feel really relaxed and comfy, and is essentially a sign of trust. 

The tongue may only poke out slightly between the teeth or loll in a full-blown grin, but either way, your dog is telling you they’re feeling cozy and safe with you. If your dog tends to be stressed, a couple of canine calming treats will see them right.  

puppy tongue

3. Tonguing

Yes, you read that word correctly. Sometimes your canine companion will lift their cheeks to get a better sense of a smell. They may even stick their tongue out and lick at the air to catch as much of the smell as they can. This is particularly common when male dogs sniff female dogs that are in heat. 

shaggy white dog with tongue out

4. Medication

When a new medicine is introduced to a dog, any number of possible side effects can occur. One of them just might be a lolling tongue. This is only indicated if the onset of the constant tongue-lolling began when you started giving your pupper the new meds. 

Simply contact your vet and they’ll be able to either adjust the dosage or alter the medication accordingly. Grab some of these pill pockets to make your life (and your dog’s) much easier. 


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5. Dental Issues

If your dog’s tongue is hanging out of its mouth, some toothy abnormalities may be to blame. If one or a few teeth have rotted away or broken off due to severe dental disease, there’s no structure to keep the tongue inside the mouth. Thus it lolls out the side. 

If this is the case, it’s best to take them to the vet where the mouth can be examined properly and action taken to alleviate your pet’s dental issues. Of course, if you’ve already taken your dog for a teeth cleaning and they had some teeth removed in the process, the tongue will hang out as well. 

The best way to avoid your pupper suffering the pain and discomfort of dental disease altogether is to get them a bristle toothbrush or finger toothbrush early on. And don’t forget the dog-friendly toothpaste!

brown dog with tongue out

6. Hanging Tongue Syndrome

Just because it has the word “syndrome” in it doesn’t mean it’s cause to worry. There are a few reasons why. This is a genetic condition usually found in some small dog breeds with brachycephalic (or “smooshed”) faces, like pugs and Pekingese. 

Their oral spaces tend to be too small, so the tongue has nowhere to go but out. Sometimes the jawbone is abnormal and can’t support the tongue. This quirky condition is not limited to snub-nosed breeds, though. 

why do dogs stick their tongue out yorkshire terrier

Image by stocksnap from Pixabay

Any dog has the potential to have an underbite or overbite that allows the tongue to slip out, especially as they age. Hanging Tongue Syndrome isn’t generally a cause for concern though as it’s a genetic thing and not indicative of a health problem.  

7. Cancer

No one likes to think it, but one of the possible reasons for that goofy tongue could be cancer, specifically oral cancer. Most of the time tumors that develop on the tongue are malignant, although it is possible for benign papillomatosis to form. 

If a mass develops on the tongue, regardless of its cause, it may be more comfortable for your good boi (or girl) to let their tongue lie outside their mouth. Either way, a vet visit is in order.  

brown dog with long tongue

8. Neurological Problems

If all the previous options have been ruled out, it’s possible that your dog may be suffering from a neurological issue. They may have received trauma to the head or jaw unknown to you, and getting to the vet as soon as possible is the best thing to do. 


Image by rebecca scholz from Pixabay

What Should I Do?

In most cases, the reasons for this behavior are harmless and no action is necessary. If cancerous growths, neural problems, or dental issues seem to be the cause, however, the vet is your best bet. 

If your dog’s tongue is almost constantly hanging, though, it can get dry from the chronic air exposure. It may even crack and bleed or swell. Make sure your dog has easy access to plenty of water so they can wet their tongue as often as they need to. 

If you’re on the move, a portable pet water bottle is perfect, while a drinking fountain might be great for the home.

black dog with long tongue

Final Thoughts on Why Dogs Stick Their Tongues Out

Whether it’s because they’re feeling fantastically relaxed or they’re just born that way, a dog with its tongue lolling out is still an adorable sight. 

It’s always better to err on the side of caution and give your vet a call if you’re unsure about the reason, though. In the meantime, have a bowl of water on stand-by for when that tongue gets a little too dry for comfort. 

beige dog with tongue out

Have you ever wondered how long your dog can go without water? Here’s the lowdown.

This article does contain affiliate links. That means if you click through on some of the links in this article and end up making a purchase, I may receive a small commission. It won’t affect the price that you pay. Just wanted to let you know.

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