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Home > Dogs > Why Do Dogs Stick Their Tongue Out? 6 Vet Reviewed Reasons

Why Do Dogs Stick Their Tongue Out? 6 Vet Reviewed Reasons

Happy brown and white border collie dog with tongue sticking out

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Dr. Chyrle Bonk

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Dogs display a variety of different behaviors that we don’t always have an understanding of. Some are considered breed specific, but many are common among all dog breeds because it’s in their nature, such as sticking their tongue out. Here are six common reasons that your dog might stick out their tongue.


The 6 Reasons Why Dogs Stick Their Tongue Out

1. They’re Happy and/or Relaxed

Happy and relaxed dogs might let their tongues hang out simply because they’re happy and relaxed. There is no reason to stop their tongue from hanging down if they are feeling completely content in their current situation. A dog might let their tongue hang out because they have spent a day exploring in a park or playing with children in the backyard, and they just want to completely relax.

happy boston terrier dog with tongue out
Image Credit: Zakharova_Elena, Shutterstock

2. They’re Cooling Themselves Down

A dog’s tongue plays a major role in helping them regulate their body temperature, especially when their bodies are hot and/or overheating. Panting is when a dog lets their tongue hang out of their mouth while they breathe quickly in and out. This allows for water to evaporate from their tongue and mouth, cooling their body from the inside.

3. Investigating

Dogs use taste as a way of investigating what’s around them. They may stick out their tongue as they go along to learn about their world. You’ll also notice sniffing and licking to go along with this. Dogs may even use their tongue to learn about you. Kissing, or tasting, your skin will let them know where you’ve been and who you have seen that day.

vizsla pitbull mix puppy dog with tongue out
Image Credit: Michael J Magee, Shutterstock

4. They’re Missing Teeth

Whether a dog loses teeth due to an accident, a medical condition, or old age, those lost teeth could result in their tongue aimlessly hanging out of their mouth. When a pup is relaxed, tired, and/or bored, you might spot their tongue slightly or blatantly hanging out right through the space where their teeth used to be.

5.  An Injury to the Mouth

Your pup might be sticking out their tongue due to pain or an injury to the tongue or mouth. You may also notice swelling, bleeding, difficulty swallowing, or whining with this type of injury. If you notice other signs of distress aside from a tongue hanging out, it’s important to contact your veterinarian immediately.

vet checking dog teeth
Image Credit: YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV, Shutterstock

6. Something’s Wrong With their Tongue

In some cases, a dog may have a hanging tongue due to genetics. Some dogs are born with a tongue that is too big for their mouth or an abnormal jaw structure. In these cases, hanging tongue syndrome is not known to cause any health problems in dogs. Other times, dogs could have neurological or muscular issues that make it so they can’t move their tongue. A veterinarian should check this out to be sure there isn’t something serious going on that can be treated.


How to Keep “Tongue Wagging” to a Minimum

In most cases, there is nothing that you can do to keep your dog from letting their tongue hang out of their mouth. In fact, the behavior could mean happiness and contentment or be a means of cooling off, in which case, you wouldn’t want to curb it. But in other cases, there are a few things that you can do to try to prevent the action:

  • Limit Exposure to Heat — When the weather is hot, ensure that your puppy has access to shade and water while spending time outside. Indoors, you can point a fan at their sleeping area or provide them with a cool space to retreat to help keep them cool.
  • Make Dental Care a Priority — Since dental disease and accidents can result in missing teeth and a hanging tongue, it is important to make dental care a priority throughout your pup’s life. Doing so will help minimize the risk of teeth prematurely falling out.
veterinarian examining dog's teeth
Image Credit: Yavdat, Shutterstock



There are various reasons that your dog’s tongue might be hanging out of their mouth, but most are benign and do not pose a danger to their health. That said, there are certain instances when poor health can be the reason for the behavior. So, if you are unsure or have any concerns, it is important to work with a veterinarian.

Featured Image Credit: Lioneska, Shutterstock

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