Dear Lisa: Is there any color reasons as to why a dog would have black spots on his tongue? Is this related to the black tongue in the Chow Chow? I’ve seen the spots in Malamutes and German Shepherd Dogs too. – Spotting Black Spots
Dear Spotting: What you are describing is really two different things. The spots on the tongue are a result of heavy pigmentation. Pigmentation is the coloration found in plant and animal cells. In dogs, pigment can affect the “points” of a dog and is genetically determined. Points include lips, nose, eye rims, pads and even toenails.
The Chow and the Chinese Shar Pei that both require a blue-black tongue and mouth in their standard have been bred specifically to have the black tongue and mouth.While the random spots on the tongue of other breeds is just a result of heavy pigmentation carrying over to the tongue from the black points.
Dear Lisa: What is the difference between a pure white Siberian husky and an “Isabella” white husky.I have a 1-year-old male who is solid white, but I do notice in bright sunlight there is a very slight yellow coloring in some areas. When he was a pup all his points (nose, lips, eye rims) were all black. However over the winter his nose has turned flesh colored.Would you call him a pure white or an Isabella white?– Wondering about White
Dear White: The cream color you see in the white coat is shading that occurs and is common in white breeds, such as Great Pyrenees, Maltese, etc. The term “Isabella” is used in some breeds to refer to the fawn color, a dilute of red. An Isabella will never have black points.They will have a corresponding dilute pigment points such as liver or brown. Whereas a white dog can have black points.However, the faded nose on your dog is what is called 'winter nose' and is seen in other breeds as well, such as yellow Labs during the colder months.
Dear Lisa: I would like to know if there is anything that I can add to my Lab’s diet that would slow down his terrible shedding. I keep him in my home most of the time and I am constantly vacuuming and sweeping up white dog hair! I heard a Lab sheds over 70 pounds of hair per year? I think that is a low figure. I have tried caster oil (gives him the runs) and he loves it when I use the upholstery attachment on him and vacuum him. He wags his tail while he is searching for the treats in my pocket that he gets afterwards. Hope you have some advice. He is 8-month-old and in great health. – Shedding Some Light
Dear Shedding: Seasonal shedding is always a problem for those of us owners with double-coated breeds and now that the days are getting longer, the added sunshine has triggered the “big winter coat blow.” Just as there are certain times of year that are worse than others there are also certain times in a dog’s lifecycle that can be equally problematic. Your question has given me an important clue – your puppy’s age. It sounds like he may be shedding his puppy coat for that adult coat which may also cause copious amounts of hair temporarily.
Vacuuming your dog
There are a variety of products on the market aimed at reducing shedding in pill form, sort of like anti-shedding supplements. These products appear to be a mix of healthy oils, vitamins and minerals. You may want to try some of these. Also, I would recommend that perhaps your switch your dog to a palatable oil, such as a fish oil like salmon, and in smaller dosages which might prevent the issue with the castor oil. Before adding a new supplement or drastically changing your dog's diet, please consult with your veterinarian. A healthy shiny coat will be less likely to shed year round. Daily brushing will also help keep the coat healthier, improve skin circulation and reduce shedding.
As for vacuuming, unfortunately, you will have to vacuum either the dog or the floor. But there are dog specific vacuums that are easier to use with better attachments than your household model. My favorite is the Metro Air Force Blaster BC-3 Canister Vacuum Cleaner. You can get models that are not only a vacuum but also can be used as a blower for drying your dog after bathing, which also helps reduce shedding if done with very warm water to help remove dead coat.
Lisa Peterson, a long-time owner/breeder/handler of Norwegian Elkhounds, is the AKC Director of Club Communications. If you have a question, send it to Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org and she may select it for a future column. Due to the high volume of questions we cannot offer individual responses. Read previous columns here.
© 2008 The American Kennel Club, Inc.