Why Do Dogs Stick Their Tongue Out?

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dogs pant to cool themselves down, show signs of anxiety, or communicate with other dogs Have any dog owners ever noticed your dog sticking his tongue out? While this may seem like odd behavior, there is actually a scientific explanation behind it. Understanding the reasons why a dog’s tongue hangs out can help us better understand our canine companions and provide them with the best possible care. Let’s look more closely at this behavior. 

Why Do Dogs Stick Their Tongue Out? 

The most common reason why dogs’ tongues stick out is to cool off. As humans, we cool ourselves off by sweating through our skin; however, dogs do not have sweat glands in their skin. Instead, they pant to regulate their entire body temperature. When a dog pants, hot air is expelled from its body and replaced with cooler air. This exchange of air helps them stay cool and comfortable in hotter temperatures. Additionally, when a dog sticks its tongue out while panting, it allows for extra evaporation of moisture on its tongue, which further helps to cool them off. Small dog breeds tend to do this more because of a shortened upper respiratory tract. Brachycephalic breeds like the french bulldog and cavalier king Charles often take shallow breaths because of their shortened muzzles.  

After a pout of physical activity (especially on a hot day), dogs may have their entire tongue hanging out the side of their mouth. This is done to help cool off. After any kind of activity, be sure to have plenty of water available for your dog, including older dogs. Pet parents need ensure they have a healthy dog, and dog tongues are are one of the ways to see if they are. A pet’s tongue is more expressive and has more use than what humans use their tongues for. It’s a good ideas to keep an eye on your furry best friend to make sure they are able to cool down (through evaporation of water on the tongue).

Physiological Reasons for Tongue Protrusion in Dogs 

There are several physiological reasons why dogs might stick their tongue out. For one, the tongue is an important cooling mechanism for canines. When it is hot outside, or when your dog has just been running around, sticking its tongue out is one way of cooling itself down. Dogs also pant heavily in order to cool themselves off but sticking the tongue out helps too! 

On top of that, some dogs may be born with shorter muzzles than others. This means that there isn’t enough room for the tongue to stay inside the mouth all the time. As a result, the tongue tends to protrude more often than not!  Furthermore, some breeds—like Bulldogs and Pugs—are prone to having short noses, which can cause them to stick their tongues out more frequently as well.

Communicating With Other Pups 

Dogs also use their tongues to communicate with other pups. Dogs often stick out their tongues as part of what is called the “flehmen response,” which is an open-mouth gesture that helps them gain information about another individual’s health and social status by sampling scents in the environment. This behavior has been observed in both domestic and wild animals, as it serves as an important visual cue for other individuals within the pack or family group. It’s also important to help them identify potential threats or strangers in order to protect themselves and communicate effectively with one another.  


Your pup might also stick its tongue out when they feel nervous or anxious about something. It could be anything from meeting new people or animals to being in a strange environment. If this is the case, it’s best to observe your pup closely and give them plenty of love and reassurance if needed. If anxiety seems to be a frequent issue for them, speak with your vet about possible solutions, such as training classes or supplements designed for calming pets down naturally. 


When a dog sticks its tongue out, it could also be taking in a scent. This behavior is thought to be instinctual, as wild canines have been known to sniff at scents while sticking their tongues out in order to pick up more information from the environment around them. By doing this, dogs are able to “taste” smells in addition to picking up information through smell alone. In other words, when your pup sticks its tongue out, it could be trying to get more details about its surroundings! 

Expressing Themselves

Dogs also stick their tongues out as a form of communication or expression. If your dog sticks his tongue out after seeing someone he likes or during an especially exciting activity (such as playing fetch), then he may be expressing joy or pleasure! Similarly, if your dog sticks his tongue out while being petted, then he could be expressing contentment and enjoyment at being petted or scratched behind the ears! In both cases, these behaviors are typically accompanied by other signs of pleasure, such as wagging tails or relaxed facial expressions.  

Health Issues

Some dogs stick out their tongues due to medical conditions such as neurological issues or mouth pain from dental disease. If you notice your pup sticking his tongue out unusually often – particularly if he seems uncomfortable or in pain – then it’s important that you take him to the vet for a checkup to ensure there isn’t any underlying medical issue causing this behavior. Such issues could be inflammation of the gums, dental issues, severe dental disease, inflammation of the tongue, excessive drooling, an abnormal jaw bone, or other serious health problems like hanging tongue syndrome or neurological problems that prevent a dog’s mouth from functioning properly. Some breeds are more susceptible to periodontal disease and can be more predisposed to any genetic condition that can cause an issue with the oral cavity (like oral cancers, missing teeth, or other dental problems).

Relief or Getting Comfortable

If you notice that your pup has an extended tongue but isn’t panting or smelling anything specific, then it could just be seeking comfort or relief from an itchy spot inside its mouth. Just like we humans use our hands subconsciously when we’re feeling anxious or stressed out, some dogs will stick their tongues out when they’re feeling discomfort—typically due to allergies or an infection somewhere in their mouth or throat area.

To Sum it Up

There are a few different reasons why your pup might be sticking its tongue out at any given moment – from physiological factors such as muzzle size or heat regulation needs to behavioral factors such as happiness or attention-seeking behavior. The next time you notice your pup’s tongue hanging loose from its mouth, be sure to give it some extra love and affection – who knows? You may even get a lick in return! So have fun learning more about why dogs stick their tongues out, and enjoy spending quality time with your furry friend!