Does your pup sleep with their tongue hanging out? It’s so adorable, right?! But why do they do this?

dog sleeping with tongue out

Isn’t it adorable when our little pups fall asleep with their tongues hanging out? I just love it! They look so relaxed, content, and in such a deep sleep.

But why do they stick their tongue out when they're sleeping? It doesn’t happen every time. And for some dogs, they do it even when they’re awake. Let’s look into some of the reasons dogs stick their tongues out… both when they’re awake and asleep.

Reasons why dogs hang their tongues out

Dogs let their tongues hang out for all sorts of reasons. Some out of natural instinct, and some because of their specific breed. Other reasons are completely unintentional. Let’s check this out.

1. Dogs pant to cool themselves down

Just the way that we sweat to cool ourselves down when we’re hot, dogs actually use panting to cool themselves down. Since they don’t sweat quite like us, they can’t cool themselves down very well or very quickly. PetMD tells us that “when dogs pant, the air moves quickly over their tongue, mouth, and the lining of their upper respiratory tract allowing moisture to evaporate and cool them down.”

Because of this, it’s important to always help your dog cool down and stay cool on those hot summer days. Shade, drinking water, fans, and wetting your dog down are the best ways to help them avoid dog heat stroke.

dog with tongue out

2. Dogs lick to groom themselves

In the same way that cats groom themselves through licking, dogs do too. Although, dogs’ tongues aren’t as effective as cats’ tongues are. So you’ll still need to help keep your pup clean by brushing, grooming, and bathing them regularly.

3. Flat-faced dogs

If your pup is a flat-faced dog like French bulldogs, boxers, and pugs, they actually hang their tongues out more because they have trouble breathing. “These dogs have functional tongues, but, because of genetics, the tongue may be too large for the oral cavity, an abnormal jaw bone doesn’t support the tongue or missing teeth allows the tongue to slip out through the gap.”

Since these types of dogs have trouble breathing from the way they are built, the American Kennel Club reminds us to be careful with the types and amount of exercise we give to these pups. We want to make sure they are able to adequately breathe and cool themselves down with enough panting.

bull dog sleeping with tongue out

Why do dogs stick their tongues out while sleeping?

There are all sorts of reasons why your pup would stick out their tongue while they’re awake. In addition to the reasons above, dogs use their tongues for eating, drinking, and giving kisses. But why in the world do they hang out their tongues while they are sleeping?

Honestly, there’s not any medical or scientific reason for this. And there’s not even a real purpose or need for them to hang out their tongues while sleeping. It’s simply just because your pup is so incredibly comfortable, and so content while they’re sleeping, that everything completely relaxes. And then their cute little tongue starts to spill out of their mouth.

It’s kind of like when we sleep, and we’re so tired that our mouth drops open and some drool comes out. Your pup may drool while they’re sleeping too. But that adorable little tongue just means they are happily snoozing away. And they are in their comfort zone.

Other fun facts about dogs’ tongues

Love your pup’s precious little tongue? So do we! So we thought you might enjoy a little dog tongue trivia! Here are some things you might not have known about the canine tongue.

1. Some dog breeds actually have blue tongues

Sounds crazy, right? According to, “Chow Chows and Shar-Peis both have blue or dark tongues, and no one knows exactly why.” But this can make it difficult at times for veterinarians to check their healthiness based on their tongue color. Any other breed whose tongue is normally pink, but is now blue, is not oxygenating well.

2. Dog tongues aren’t more sanitary than human tongues

Ever heard the myth about dogs’ mouths being cleaner than humans’ mouths? Well, it’s just not true! PetMD also tells us that “both contain more than 600 types of bacteria.” So maybe think twice the next time your pup tries to lick you in the face.

3. Your dog’s tongue may affect the way they bark

Just the same way that our tongues affect the way we talk, a dog’s tongue affects the way they bark.

4. Dogs have less taste buds than humans do

Although dogs do have more taste buds than cats, they actually “have about one-sixth the number of taste buds of humans.” Dogs can taste salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. But more importantly, their smell affects what they think seems appealing to eat.

Who knew there were such fascinating facts about a dog’s tongue? Our canines are very complex and wonderful creatures. And the more we know about them, the closer of a bond we feel to them.

For more helpful articles about pet-parenting tips, check out the Off Leash blog at

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