Yorkshire terriers, affectionately called Yorkies, are small toy dogs known to be good family pets because they're particularly good with children. This feisty breed, once bred for working in dark mines and mills, has graduated to lap-dog status, and they are now among the most compact, pampered, and adored canines. A characteristic tiny bow often holds their long, silky fur away from their eyes. Sometimes, however, their cute compact face is oddly enhanced by a wayward tongue.
Like most dogs, Yorkies let their tongue hang out occasionally. However, Yorkies stick their tongue out more often than other breeds. The reasons vary from panting, which is a normal way for a dog to cool off, to a genetic condition that is actually referred to as "hanging tongue syndrome." Other reasons for a Yorkie tongue to droop include dental issues or inflammations that make it challenging for these cute toy dogs to keep their tongue inside their mouth.
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Yorkie tongue size
Yorkshire terriers are small dogs with a small tongue. Therefore, they need to pant a little more frequently than other breeds of dogs. Dogs can't sweat, so they must cool themselves by panting, or allowing moisture to evaporate, which is similar to humans sweating. A smaller tongue surface means Yorkies often pant harder or longer than larger breeds to meet the same cooling goal.
Dogs also express relaxation by letting their tongue hang out. An extremely content or comfortable pup sometimes lets the tongue dangle, and this is particularly true of brachycephalic and toy dog breeds, whose tongue can be out of proportion with the size of their head. A Yorkie tongue hanging out on occasion is rarely a bad thing, but a Yorkie tongue hanging out all the time can be cause for concern.
Hanging tongue syndrome
The condition known as "hanging tongue syndrome" is a genetic disorder with which some Yorkshire terriers are born that prevents the dog from keeping her tongue inside her mouth. Yorkies are not the only breed susceptible to this aesthetically challenging abnormality, but they are prone to it. Hanging tongue syndrome means the dog's tongue is constantly outside the mouth, usually dangling to one side. Essentially, the dog is unable to control her tongue.
In addition to being caused by a congenital defect, hanging tongue syndrome can also be a result of trauma or neurological damage. Whatever the reason for it, a canine tongue that cannot be retracted is prone to damage, such as dehydration, sunburn, infection, or injury. In severe cases, a veterinarian might recommend a partial glossectomy, which is surgically resizing the tongue. A tongue that remains outside a dog's mouth will need to be moistened regularly, and the dog might need help eating, drinking, and grooming.
Yorkie tongue inflammation
Dental issues or problems with a dog's mouth might also cause a Yorkshire terrier's tongue to hang out. Tartar buildup, plague formation, and tooth fractures can contribute to mouth infections that influence the tongue. Brushing your dog's teeth regularly can help prevent common dental problems and can reduce the number of cleanings needed at the veterinary office. There are other ways to clean your dog's teeth at home, including water additives and providing dental chews.
Also, oral problems, such as inflammation of the lips, tongue, or mouth's soft tissue, can contribute to a Yorkie tongue problem. Unfortunately, oral cancer is also a possible cause of a Yorkie tongue hanging out, though it's a less likely culprit. Sometimes, malignant growths in the mouth or on the tongue become large enough to push the dog's tongue out of the mouth. Clearly, consulting a veterinarian is necessary to definitively identify any health issue.