[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive degenerative disease affecting upper and lower motor neurons. Symptom onset may occur in the muscles of the limbs (spinal onset) or those of the head and neck (bulbar onset). Bulbar involvement is particularly important in ALS as it is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. The purpose of this study was to characterize bulbar motor deficits in the B6SJL-Tg(SOD1-G93A)1Gur/J (SOD1-G93A) mouse model of familial ALS. We measured orolingual motor function by placing thirsty mice in a customized operant chamber that allows for measurement of tongue force and lick rhythm as animals lick water from an isometric disc. Testing spanned the pre-symptomatic, symptomatic, and end-stage segments of the disease. Rotarod performance, fore- and hindlimb grip strength, and locomotor activity were also monitored regularly during this period. We found that spinal involvement was apparent first, with both fore- and hindlimb grip strength being affected in SOD1-G93A mice from the onset of testing (64 days of age). Rotarod performance was affected by 71 days of age. Locomotor activity was not affected, even near end-stage. Bulbar involvement appeared much later, with tongue motility being affected by 100 days of age. Tongue force was affected by 115 days of age. To our knowledge, these findings are the first to describe the onset of bulbar versus spinal motor signs and characterize orolingual motor deficits in this preclinical model of ALS.