Black Gums in Dogs Causes and Dog Breeds with Black Gums Naturally

Black Gums in Dogs

If you are wondering, “Is it normal for a dog to have black gums?” the answer is yes and no. Although it is normal for some dogs to have black gums, it may be an indication of an underlying medical issue. In fact, one of the vital signs of the well-being of a dog is the color of gums is the color of gums. You may have seen your vet check them out at some point. Read on to find out more about black gums in dogs.

What Color Should My Dogs Gums Be? – Black Gums in Dogs vs. Normal Color

As a responsible and loving pet owner concerned about the darker appearance of your dog’s gum, the question, “What should dog’s gums look like?” may pop in your mind. The gums of most healthy dogs are bubble-gum-pink in color. A variation to this may be an indication of ill health.

If you have ever seen your veterinarian check your pooch’s gum, you now know what they were checking. Red, pale, blue, purple, and even black gums are all signs that something may not be right. Make a trip to your vet immediately.

How to Check the Color of Your Dog’s Gums

To check your dog’s gum color, gently lift her upper lip. You will want to observe the color of the area above the upper canine teeth. Do this while your dog is relaxing. If you think your dog could be in pain, it may be a better idea to have your vet check her lest she ends up biting you in a defensive response. The same applies to dogs with an aggressive demeanor.

Pet owners who regularly brush their pooch’s teeth are at better chance of spotting changes in their dog’s teeth and gums. You want to be one of them. You also want to take a mental note of the natural color of your dog’s gum and use it as a baseline assessment for your dog.

Dog Breeds with Black Gums Naturally

Although black gums in dogs should be treated as a sign of an underlying issue, an exception to the rule applies to a few dog breeds that naturally have dark colored gums. The chow chow and the Chinese Shar-Pei breeds are good examples. They are known for their bluish or black tongue along with black, or black spotted gums. The spots or blotches are caused by microscopic granules of a dark pigment called melanin.

Because of their naturally darker gum color, assessing the health of such dog breeds cannot rely on the gum color. For them, an alternative test is recommended: the color of the inside of the eyelid.

Like the gums of most dogs, the tissue on the inside of the eyelid of a healthy dog should be pink in color. To check it out, pull the lower eyelid down gently. If it is any color other than pink, your dog may be sick. Take her to your vet for evaluation and appropriate treatment.

“Flat, black spots on dog’s gums are normal if the dog in question is a chow chow or a Chinese Shar-Pei. Black swollen gums are, on the other hand, a cause for concern and warrant immediate attention of your veterinarian”

What Causes Black Gums in Dogs?

Now that you know that black gums are an anomaly unless of course your dog is a chow chow, Chinese Shar-Pei or any other breed that is known to naturally feature dark or dark spotted gums, what could be the underlying cause of the problem? Your veterinarian will examine and diagnose your pet’s problem and recommend treatment accordingly. Among the possible factors for black gums in dogs are listed below:


The presence of a swollen (raised) black spot on a dog’s gums is a cause of concern and a veterinarian should check them right away. You could be dealing with a cancerous tumor or melanoma. Melanoma is the type of oral cancer most commonly seen in dogs. The affected pooch may exhibit other problems or symptoms such as bad breath, bleeding, and difficulty chewing.

Melanoma can affect any dog breed, but some are more susceptible than others including cocker spaniels, golden retrievers, chow chow, Gordon setters, and Scottish terriers. Male dogs are also at higher risk of developing melanoma than their female counterparts.

Any raised spots that suddenly appear in your dog’s mouth should be checked by a veterinarian right away even if it is not black pigmented. Melanoma lesions can as well be white, light gray, or pink (fleshy) colored.

Dental Disease

Black gums in dogs can also be indicative of an advanced stage of periodontal disease, says Dr. Miacarter, a dog veterinary specialist. This is especially true if the black discoloration occurs around the teeth (along with the gum line) rather than on the gum per se. Periodontal disease involves an infection of the gums and, in some cases, the teeth’s supporting structures.

According to the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), periodontal disease is, “is the most common ailment affecting pet dogs and cats”.

How Periodontal Disease Develops

The onset of periodontal disease comes with hardening of the plaque building up on the surface of the teeth into calculus or tartar, especially along the gum line. This often causes inflammation of the gums (gingiva) or gingivitis. Gingivitis is characterized by reddening of gums along the gum lines.

According to MSPCA, the gums of the affected dog may also lose their natural wavy shape (along with the teeth) and appear straighter. Bad breath is also commonly noticed.

The Progression

As periodontal disease advances, the dog’s gums often start receding. Unlike gingivitis, gum recession and shortening is permanent. This then exposes the root surface of the affected teeth. Given the rough texture of the root surface, it retains plaque even more than the crown (the naturally exposed part of the teeth).

To make thing even worse, dog’s furcation is relatively close to the gum line. Furcation is the area separating the roots of teeth with more than one root. Once exposed, it also provides a suitable ground for the accumulation of tartar and plaque. The seemingly black spots on a dog’s gum line are often an exposed furcation.

As periodontal disease progresses further, leading to further loss of the gum and the supporting bone, the affected teeth may eventually get loose – or even get lost. You should not ignore black spots or line along the gum lines. If you do, your furry friend ends up losing her teeth.

Other signs of dental problems include declined interest in playing with chew toys and eating crunchy treats – instead referring to softer foods and treats. Your pet may also prefer to majorly chew with one side of the mouth. Because of poor chewing of food, your dog may also vomit intermittently. Lastly, the pooch may show signs of oral pain such as pawing at the face and excessive salivation.

If you came to this page with the concern, “my dog’s gums are black around teeth, an oral problem should be your first suspect. Take her to the veterinarian promptly for a checkup and appropriate treatment.

In conclusion, black gums in dogs should be checked by a veterinarian if they have just appeared suddenly. This is especially critical if they are raised. It is better to be safe than sorry, so get our pooch to the vet right away.


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