What’s Normal / What’s Not

Most dogs have naturally light pink gums, and in those cases, a dark coloration can be a sign of severe heart or lung problems. However, some dogs have naturally dark gums and, in many cases, where you see black in their mouth it’s not a concern.

What dog breeds have black gums? Some dogs have naturally black gums or black spotting in their mouths due to pigmentation differences. German Shepherds and Pit Bulls are two examples. Other dogs, like the Chow Chow and the Pyrenean mountain dog, have black roofs to their mouths, also due to natural pigmentation differences.

In this article will list 23 dog breeds with black gums, plus what dog breeds have a black roof in their mouth.

Dog Breeds with black gums

1. Labrador Retriever

Top of the dogs breeds with black gums is this mid-sized to large dog is lovable and sweet, a great dog for kids, and the most popular dog breed in America. They are friendly and energetic and are friendly to strangers as well as to their owners.

Labrador retrievers love the water and need a lot of exercise, as well as high-quality dog food. Otherwise, this breed is likely to become overweight.

Dog Breeds With Black Gums
You can clearly see the black gums in this labrador’s mouth (Image via https://pixabay.com/photos/dog-labrador-light-brown-out-1194077/)

2. Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever is among the most popular dog breeds in America, known for its beautiful, golden coat and friendliness. These dogs are often chosen to be guide dogs for the blind and are also valuable hunting companions. Their obedient nature and openness to training also make this breed great for search-and-rescue teams.

The Golden Retriever originated on the estates of the Scottish countryside, likely in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. Naturals at retrieving waterfowl, this dog loves long games of fetch and a good swim.

3. Curly-Coated Retriever

This mid-sized dog is among the oldest retriever breeds, an intelligent companion, and an excellent swimmer. Their coats are both waterproof and thorn-proof and protect them for adventures in the toughest of conditions. The Curly-Coated Retriever can even make it through an icy lake unscathed.

Curly-Coated Retrievers are gentle, loving, and need plenty of exercise, much like the Golden Retriever and the Labrador. However, they are more independent dogs than their relatives and enjoy the company of their owners but are unlikely to bond quickly with strangers. Because of this, they make for better watchdogs than other retrievers.

4. Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd is an intelligent herding dog, often found on ranches and at rodeos, associated strongly with the cowboy lifestyle. These dogs with black gums and black roofs in their mouths have such a strong drive to work and to herd that they can make for difficult pets, even though they make great sporting companions.

5. Dalmatian

The Dalmatian is an intelligent and friendly dog, historically used to guard horse-drawn coaches for noblemen and firefighters. Their black-and-white spotted coats are unmatched among animals, making them one of the most distinctive animals.

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These dogs are athletic and faithful and make for great companions, especially for runners and hikers.

6. German Shepherd

Do German Shepherds have black gums? Yes, they do. A typical German Shepherd will have a blue or black-looking tongue and black pigmented gums. As the second most popular dog in America, many people question their black gums. It’s normal.

Easy to train and loyal, the German Shepherd is a natural companion dog. This breed is also very courageous, willing to risk life and limb on behalf of a beloved owner.

These dogs are loving and gentle with family but cautious with strangers, and so make great guardians.

german shepherd black gums
You can see the black gums in this German Shepherd’s mouth. (Image via https://pixabay.com/photos/shepherd-german-shepherd-portrait-574272/)

7. Doberman Pinscher

The Doberman Pinscher is among the most effective guard dogs, fast, powerful, and loyal. They are fearless with a sleek, dignified appearance, and are very athletic. Intimidating and vigilant, the Doberman is likely to deter most predators.

8. Chow Chow

This mid-sized dog comes from China and are very strong and muscular for their size. In addition to black gums, the Chow Chow has a distinctive blue-black tongue.

These dogs are clean, loyal, and unlikely to bring odor into the house. Although they are aloof around strangers, they are incredibly loving to their owners and very faithful. Historically, this breed was used for herding and hunting, as well as pulling and home protection.

9. Chinese Shar-Pei

The Chinese Shar-Pei is known for its small ears and “hippopotamus” head shape,

giving the mid-sized dog a unique look. Shar-Pei puppies typically have a loose, wrinkly coat, but this disappears once the dogs get older.

The Shar-Pei is alert and protective and makes for an excellent guard dog. They are very suspicious of strangers and very loyal to their owners. Training is very important for the Shar-Pei, as their protective behavior can be very aggressive and vicious when unchecked.

Like the Chow Chow, the Shar-Pei has a blue-black tongue, in addition to being a dog breed with black gums.

10. Irish Setter

The Irish Setter is a very outgoing, gentle, and sweet dog. They are graceful and a fast-friend of strangers. Their easy temperament makes them great companion dogs, especially for children, and their fast and athletic nature makes them great sporting companions.

Their long, mahogany fur stands out as beautiful, as does their long and lean appearance. They respond well to training and are very eager to please.

11. Mastiff

The giant Mastiff is an ancient breed, very loyal and very powerful. They have thick muscles and a deep body, very patient and loving, and very important to train. They are naturally wary of strangers and do best when they’re socialized from a very young age.

12. Newfoundland

The Newfoundland is a working dog, heavy, strong, and very large. In fact, the Newfoundland is one of the world’s largest dogs and one of the most famous dog breeds with black gums.

They are sometimes called “nanny dogs” due to their exceptional gentleness, patience, and desire to watch over their companions. They are especially trusting and very easy to train.

13. Akita

The Akita is a muscular, burly dog, imposing and courageous. They come from Japan, where they are respected as excellent guardians and symbols of health and happiness.

Friendly with family but quiet and wary of strangers, these dogs are well-suited to protective roles. They make for excellent companions, but need strong socialization from a young age, and don’t typically do well with other animals.

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akita dog
Japanese Akitas will have black color in their mouths. (Image via https://pixabay.com/photos/akita-akita-inu-japanese-akita-dog-2534986/)

14. Portuguese Water Dog

This mid-size, fluffy black and white breed is known for its energetic but loyal nature and love of water. These dogs can swim and dive underwater and are known as a fisherman’s helper. Historically, they were used to herd schools of fish, carry messages from boat to boat, and retrieve tools like nets from the water.

These dogs are strong and hardworking. They can be aggressive or shy around strangers but are easy to train and eager to please.

15. Black Russian Terrier

The all-black, fluffy Black Russian Terrier is a large, physically powerful dog and strong with high endurance levels. Although not friendly with strangers, these dogs are very intelligent and loyal to their owners, making excellent guard dogs.

16. Komondor

This large, white breed is known for its long, distinctively mop-like coat. The Komondor comes from Hungary and is skilled at herding flocks of sheep. Independent but protective of their owners, the Komondor makes for a loyal and brave companion.

17. Puli

The Puli is another herding dog, but much smaller and friendlier with humans. These dogs are agile acrobats, quick on their feet, and able to maneuver very well. They learn quickly and so can be easily trained and are very loyal.

The Puli’s dense and waterproof coat requires some attention, needing to either be corded or brushed regularly. Its texture is wavy and wooly and can grow long enough to touch the ground in older dogs.

18. Pumi

The Pumi is a small, Hungarian herding dog, a relative of the Puli originating in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Originally used to herd sheep, pigs, and cattle, these dogs now make fur cuddly and playful pets. They are recognizable by their black, curly coat, short tail, and alert ears. They are playful and agile, very bold, and very cuddly.

19. Airedale Terrier

This mid-sized dog is known as “The King of Terriers,” a natural hunter that can also make for an excellent human companion. Muscular and strong, this breed is the largest of all terriers. Like other terriers, these dogs tend to be bold and stubborn, patient with kids, but firmly protective.

The Airedale is recognizable by its distinctive beard and mustache, along with its folded ears.

Airedales are another dog breed known for black gums and mouths (Image via https://pixabay.com/photos/airedale-terrier-swim-happy-sea-4565872/)

20. American Staffordshire Terrier (Pit Bull)

The American Staffordshire Terrier, also known as an Am-Staff or Pit Bull, is extremely courageous, confident, and a good companion if trained well. Their pronounced jaws and cheekbones and square heads make them easily recognizable.

This breed has historically been used as English fighting dogs, stacked against bears and other wild animals as a spectator sport in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Though initially bred for this gruesome pastime, this dog is now valued for its companionship and is much gentler than its ancestors.

21. Staffordshire Bull Terrier (Pit Bull)

Similar to its American cousin above, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier was originally bred in England as fighting dogs and are now valued for their sweet nature and patience with kids. Their fighting instinct still exists but can be mediated with early socialization.

These dogs are smaller than their American relatives but just as courageous, playful, and loyal. Some Pit Bulls have black gums and black fur on their muzzles, but even in these cases, their mouths are not entirely black.

22. Pomeranian

The Pomeranian is a very small dog, reaching only six to seven inches in height. It is sometimes called the ideal companion, a tiny toy breed owned and bred by royals as well as non-royals.

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These dogs can be recognized by their thick, fluffy coats and have a courageous demeanor despite their size. They are very active, but their small size can get their necessary exercise even in small spaces, like city apartments. They do well with children, love games, and make great companions.

23. Rottweiler

The Rottweiler, a strong, muscular working dog, makes for a gentle protector of the home and a great playmate. Originating as Roman military companions, these dogs are intelligent and great with practical problem-solving.

The Rottweiler today is silly, playful, and cuddly, but still territorial and courageous. Provided that they are trained and socialized from a young age, their protective nature should be a positive trait and not a cause for excessive aggression.

black mouth of a rottweiler
Rottweilers also have black gums and dark mouths. (Image via https://pixabay.com/photos/dog-rottweiler-animal-pet-canine-2987024/)

Are dogs supposed to have black gums?

Some dogs are supposed to have black gums. However, whilst most dogs, like the poodle, have pinkish gums, and the appearance of dark coloration can be a sign of serious health problems.

But other dogs have naturally occurring dark pigmentation, like freckles or a difference in skin color. These breeds sometimes have entirely black gums, mouths, or tongues, and in other cases, only have spots of dark color.

These differences are genetic, and not a cause for concern. Even dogs within the same breed will often show differences in pigment color and distribution in their mouths. I’ve written more in depth about why some dogs will have black spots their gums.

If you are not sure about whether your dog should have black gums or not, please do consult with your vet for a professional opinion.

What dog breeds have a black roof of mouth?

  • Chow Chow: The Chow Chow is one of few breeds with an entirely black mouth, including not just black gums, but also a dark blue to black tongue and a black roof of the mouth.
  • Great Pyrenees (Pyrenean Mountain Dog): The Great Pyrenees are majestic, strong dogs that tend to be very graceful and calm until met with a threat. Their lush coat is waterproof and coldproof, well-suited to their original environment in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain.
  • Estrela Mountain Dog: The bear-like Estrela Mountain Dog is a gentle giant, a useful guardian of shepherds, and a good companion for children if socialized from a young age. These dogs tend to be distrustful of strangers, but very loyal to their masters.
  • Portuguese Water Dog: In addition to black gums, the Portuguese Water Dog has a black roof of the mouth and black lips.
  • Komondor: The Komondor has an all-black mouth, including black gums, lips, and roof of the mouth.
  • Chinese Shar-Pei: The Chinese Shar-Pei has blue-black gums, roof of mouth, and lips, like the Komondor, the Portuguese Water Dog, and the Chow Chow.
what dog breeds have black gums
This dog’s black gums and mouth are perfectly normal and healthy. (Image via https://pixabay.com/photos/dog-animal-black-mouth-roar-tooth-407078/)


It’s not unusual to see many dog breeds with black gums. Black gums are normal and healthy, caused by genetic differences in pigmentation, like differences in skin color.

Although dark-colored gums make one symptom of heart or lung problems difficult to spot, there are many other signs you can look to for signs that your pet is unwell.

For example, if you see that your dog’s gums have recently turned black where they were not before, you seek get a professional opinion.

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Image in header via https://pixabay.com/photos/dog-animal-nature-puppy-2582128/

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