What Does It Mean When a Dog Has a Black Roof Mouth?

You may look at the title and go – “huh?”. What is a black roof mouth? Some dog owners haven’t even noticed that their dogs have a black mouth or tongue. The site can be alarming and sometimes it makes a dog look very intimidating and aggressive, but it isn’t necessarily true. Let’s take a deeper dive into what it means when a dog has a black roof mouth, why it exists, and what breeds have it. 

What Is A Black Roof Mouth?

A black roof mouth is exactly what it sounds like – the roof of your dog’s mouth is black or has black spots. This can extend to other areas including the tongue and even the gums! Dogs with black mouths can look very intimidating, but don’t run scared just yet! 

We are going to tackle what it means when a dog has a black roof mouth. 

What Does It Mean When a Dog Has a Black Roof Mouth – Is It a Medical Issue?

A black roof mouth is normal for certain breeds, but if your dog has very pale skin and white fur and didn’t have a black mouth before, then it could be a cause for concern. If you notice an abnormal increase in black spots in the mouth, then we would suggest a vet visit right away.

Unless your breed is predisposed to dark tongues and mouths, a bluish tinge is also something to look out for and can signify a medical condition. There are rumors in the pet community that try to place meaning on black roof mouths, so let’s explore what they are and whether they can be debunked. 

Very Smart and Intelligent

Legends (or stories, really) say that dogs with black roof mouths are more intelligent than the rest of the bunch. While it’s entirely possible that your black-mouthed pooch is highly intelligent and smarter than his brothers and sisters, it may just be a coincidence. 

Currently, there is no concrete scientific evidence to back up this claim. Stories say these black-mouthed pups originated from a breeder way back when who had a bunch of these dogs that proved to be more intelligent and easier to train. Once they bred, their pups were highly clever as well, and so the word spread that black-roofed mouths equal intelligence. 


Some dog owners also believe that they have their hands on a purebred of a certain breed when they come with black-roofed mouths. This is again, another myth that is not supported by scientific evidence. It’s completely true that you can still get a purebred of a breed that is genetically predisposed to having black mouths even if yours has a pink one. 

More Aggressive 

We start by saying that each dog is different. You can have a cute Pomeranian that is very aggressive and find a very mild-tempered pitbull. While we stress that every dog is unique, it is true that certain breeds have displayed a higher percentage of aggressive behaviors. 

A breed that commonly sports a black tongue, mouth and gums is the Chow Chow. Their adorable teddy bear-like appearance can be deceiving since some of them do have a bite that matches their bark. 

The misconception that black roof mouth dogs are more aggressive could also be due to the fact that it just looks more intimidating. 

Reasons For a Black Roof Mouth on a Dog

A black roof mouth is mainly due to heavy pigmentation. Dogs have various degrees of pigmentation that manifest in different areas. Some dogs have entirely pink paw pads due to a lack of pigmentation, and there are canines that not only have fully black paw pads but black nails as well – a sign of heavy pigmentation.

The pigmentation can then affect other areas such as the tongues, gums and the roof of the mouth. 

Dog Breeds with Black Roof Mouths 

It’s interesting and useful to know if your dog is a breed that commonly has black roof mouths so you can figure out if black spots are normal, or if they warrant a trip to the vet. Keep in mind that even if your breed is on this list, there is still a chance that he may not have pigmentation in the mouth.

  • Chow Chow
  • Shar Pei
  • Saint Bernard
  • Black Mouth Cur
  • Mixed Breeds (mixed with the above)

It’s also possible to find breeds that do not have an entirely black mouth, tongue and gums, with just some pigmentation on each or all parts. These breeds are:

  • Airedale Terrier
  • Akita
  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Bichon Frise
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Bull Mastiff
  • Cairn Terrier
  • Collie

If you don’t see your breed on the list but you notice these spots or pigmentation, we would still advise scheduling a vet visit just to be safe.


When Should I be Concerned about a Black Roof Mouth on My Dog?

There is some cause for concern if you notice spots randomly appearing where there was none, or if your dog is not among the breeds known to have this trait, then a vet visit is necessary.

Is My Dog Smarter with a Black Roof Mouth?

While it’s possible that your very smart fur baby has a black mouth, the heightened intelligence isn’t usually due to the dark pigmentation. Currently, there is no scientific evidence that the two have any correlation, it’s more of an old wives’ tale (albeit an interesting one at that).

Why Does My Dog Have a Black Roof Mouth?

The reason for your dog’s black roof mouth is pigmentation. This trait is determined by breed as well as your dog’s genetics. The pigmentation could affect other areas such as the skin, paler dogs can show spots and darker dogs have dark skin, paw pads, gums and tongues. 

Final Thoughts 

Random black spots in your dog’s mouth are no cause for concern if the breed is known to have this hereditary characteristic. However, we would suggest pet parents schedule a vet visit if this is not a common occurrence. While it’s easy to believe these dogs are smarter, purebred, or more aggressive, black roof mouths are not an indication of that. 

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