Do you have a border collie? If so, then you probably know that these dogs are well-known for their extra-long tongues. That’s because they need to be able to work with sheep and other livestock on farms! Today we’re going to look at why border collies have long tongues, what some of the benefits of having such an unusual tongue are, and how this unique feature has affected the history of borders.
We’ll start with the benefits of long tongues. Since these dogs were always dealing with livestock, they needed to have a lot of control over their mouths to get animals into pens or do what’s needed for herding. With that in mind, the length of their tongues allows them to cool down animals by licking and even wrap said tongue around the nose of an animal to get control of livestock.
Dogs’ tongues are like the dogs themselves, both of which work hard to keep their bodies cool. A Border Collie’s tongue works as a grooming tool and helps them drink from puddles or lakes by scooping up water with it.
Using their tongues for Grooming
When you’re not around to brush your dog’s long, furry coat of hair for him every day- or when it gets too dirty for whatever reason — how does he get all the grime off? The answer: His mouth! And with such a stretchy tongue as an extra arm on hand (when dogs stop being cute and more like big ol’ sentient vacuum cleaners), that becomes easier than ever before for a Border Collie.
Border Collies will also make use of their tongue if they have a runny nose. Collies are clever dog breeds who can sense even the tiniest droplets of water with their sensitive noses. If they detect any trace, it is quickly wiped away by tongue flick! You may not notice this as it happens so fast but it’s one of the benefits of having a longer than usual tongue.
Using their tongues as a radiator
Sweating is the way humans cool down. It’s no secret that when our brains sense rising body temperatures, they activate sweat glands to make us feel less hot and more comfortable again!
For humans, these sweat glands are developed across the whole skin surface but for Border Collies, the sweat glands are limited to their foot pads. This means that when it’s hot out, they must sweat through the pads on their paws to keep cool. Since they don’t have any sweat glands in their mouths, dogs’ amazing tongues serve as a cooling-down tool instead!
Dogs can cool down on hot days by panting. When they breathe quickly and shallowly, air passes over their tongue which evaporates saliva into tiny droplets that circulate through blood vessels in the surface area of their tongues back towards other parts of their body.
Of course, the larger the tongue, the larger the surface area making it a very efficient cooling system, so Border Collies make the most of their large tongues as a result.
What is Hanging Tongue Syndrome for Border Collies?
A dog with an exposed tongue is not an unusual sight; they pant to show pleasure or anxiety, to recover after exercise, and to cool themselves. Some dogs, however, are either partially or fully unable to control their tongue and it may hang out of their mouth consistently, or show signs of an injured tongue.
These dogs have a condition known as hanging tongue syndrome, and it can be triggered by a congenital defect, injury, dental disease, or neurological damage. This can leave the dog open to cracking and bleeding of the tongue as well as difficulty eating or cleaning themselves.
Dogs who are unable to pull their tongue back into their mouths may be at an increased risk of dehydration, frostbite, or even infection.
Symptoms of Hanging Tongue Syndrome in Border Collies
Dogs who have developed hanging tongue syndrome may experience several different symptoms that are likely to require attention and may even be indicative of additional disorders. Some of the symptoms that you may want to watch for include:
Bleeding and cracking of the tongue
Signs of damaged tongue muscles
Thickening of tongue
A tongue infection
Diagnosis of Hanging Tongue Syndrome in Border Collies
When you bring your pet into the vet in regards to its hanging tongue, they will probably likely undertake a range of tests. These will be done to rule out other causes of a protruding tongue, which could include illnesses or medications that induce swelling, ulcers or tumors on the tongue, or minor injuries to the tongue.
When examining the mouth area, veterinarians will also evaluate a dog’s teeth and make sure that its tongue is not too large for its oral cavity. In some cases, an x-ray of the mouth and jaw area may uncover poorly healed breaks or other trauma that is causing a dog’s inability to better control its tongue. If it is considered too large for the oral cavity, the examining veterinarian will also evaluate how much of an effect it is likely to have on the animal’s quality of life.
Treatment of Hanging Tongue Syndrome in Border Collies
Treatment for dogs with hanging tongue syndrome can differ somewhat, depending on the reason that their tongues are limp and how severely it is affecting them.
In many cases, the tongue requires only maintenance treatments such as appropriate lubricants for the tongue typically just olive oil or water and close monitoring to check for changes in texture.
Dogs who have tongues that are already swollen or cracked may be offered pain relief, and if the tongue has developed an infection, then the appropriate antifungal medications will be prescribed.
If your Border Collie does not have control of their tongue, the vet may recommend feeding soft dog food that is easy to swallow.
Your dog may need surgery to remove its tongue. If you notice that they’re struggling with eating or drinking, sleeping due to the size of it being too big for them and causing pain then this could be why some dogs have an overly large tongue known as macroglossia where it interferes greatly in quality of life so a surgical removal/resection of the tongue called a glossectomy, may be the right choice for your Collie.
A Border Collie’s tongue is a key part of their herding heritage. As such, they have grown to use it as a grooming tool and also to keep cool in the summer heat.
In some cases where the tongue has grown too large for them due to Hanging Tongue Syndrome or other medical reasons, surgery may be necessary but this does not mean that your Border Collie will suffer from any difficulties with eating or breathing if these procedures are successful.