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What is a dog’s tail used for?


Have you ever wondered what a dog’s tail is for? If you want to know what that final extension of the column is for, keep reading this article that we have prepared from Las Almenas.

The multiple uses of a dog’s tail

A dog’s tail is, as we say, the continuation of the animal’s spine. It contains blood flow, nerves, cartilage, bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles.

As we say, a dog’s tail is an important part of the body, because it has several main functions:

  • It helps balance the body when it is active, for example, when running, jumping and swimming. Thanks to the swinging of the tail, dogs can move with greater precision and power. It supports them and also gives them momentum.
  • It improves bowel movements.
  • The tail also serves to cover the part of the genitals, such as the anal sacs or anal glands, the anus, the vulva and the opening of the urethra. In this way it ensures that the area is not constantly exposed to the various environmental factors and possible infections.
  • It protects against temperature changes. The tail helps protect the rear area from exposure to extreme temperature changes. This is very important for dogs since it contains scent glands, called supracaudal glands, which serve specifically to mark territory.
  • Another use of the tail is to help attract another animal, as it is part of its display in front of a potential mate.
  • It allows communication. A dog’s tail is also a way for it to communicate with people and other animals. They wag it quickly when they are happy, hide it between their legs when they are afraid and tense it when they are defensive.

As you can see, a dog’s tail is really useful and should be taken care of, since it is specially designed to meet the needs of the species and that is why it makes no sense to cut off its tail. Throughout history, no medical or scientific reason has been presented as to why it would be necessary to amputate a dog’s tail. Fortunately, today it is an illegal practice in many countries as is the case in Spain, where it has been forbidden since 2018 to cut off a dog’s tail for aesthetic reasons.





What you can tell from the position of a dog’s tail

Of all the utilities that a dog’s tail has, the best known to all is that it informs and communicates to us, above all, of its emotions.

As a general rule, it is said that if there are quick movements of the tail it is because our furry friend is happy. On the other hand, if the tail is stiff, it may indicate fear or tension. But things are not that simple. Dogs say much more with their tails than we think. Not all the fast movements are for happiness and the static tail is not always for fear.

It is necessary to take into account other aspects such as posture, speed and even the direction of the tail. In short, a dog’s tail is part of its body language so that it can communicate to other animals if they feel threatened and need to protect their territory. And it also helps them recognize whether a dog or cat they encounter is their friend or foe.

So that you can understand a little better what signals your dog sends through its tail, in Las Almenas we have prepared this summary:


If the tail is upward

When the tail is straight out or up, it can have multiple meanings, taking into account different factors and postures. In general, high tails indicate security, although there are several nuances.

For example, if the dog has its head raised and tail up, it is because it wants to show its authority and mark its territory, in a relaxed way. On the other hand, if he has his body tense, ears up and tail straight out, it is possible that he is stressed, nervous and may bark and attack.

If in addition to having the tail stretched upwards, it moves rigidly, with the whole body forward, then the dog is warning the person in front of him that he is ready to have a confrontation.


If the tail is wagging fast

I’m sure you too know that if a dog’s tail is wagging it’s because it’s a happy dog. This is so in case these movements are wide or they form circles. In this way, we will know that the dog is happy, eager to play or excited for different reasons such as, for example, the arrival of the owner at home, the time to go for a walk or to eat.

But, in addition, dogs also wag their tails when they follow a trail or when they are cornering prey. A curiosity is that the movement of the tail or the simple gesture of lifting it, helps them to transmit the scent of pheromones from the anal glands.

So, as you can see, movement does not always mean the same thing, nor is it always synonymous with happiness.

Keep in mind that tail wagging is usually related to the dog’s degree of excitement. The more nervous the dog is, the more he will wag his tail more and faster. So, if these movements are short and fast it means that the animal is in tension and it may be a sign of attack or, on the contrary, of an immediate escape.


Tail direction

In addition to the speed of the tail movement, there is another factor to take into account if you want to recognize the mood of your dog. It is the direction in which the tail is pointing. This movement would be inversely related to the dog’s cerebral hemispheres: the left one assimilates the positive reactions, while the right one does it with the negative ones.

Thus, if the dog’s tail wags to the right, it is normally associated with a positive stimulus such as playing, eating or going for a walk.

On the contrary, if a dog’s tail wags to the left it is because he may be in a moment of tension, which happens when he meets another dominant dog.

And if the tail, instead of wagging sideways, curls inwards, this means that there is confidence and self-control and, therefore, the dog is probably calm.



If the tail is placed between the legs

One of the most familiar positions to everyone is when the dog tucks its tail between its legs. It usually means that something is wrong. Normally, when a dog’s tail is down it is because he is insecure or afraid.

The purpose of this posture is to try to contain the pheromones they secrete through their anus in an attempt to go unnoticed.

In other cases, when the tail between the legs is accompanied by trembling, this may mean some physiological need such as being cold or otherwise unwell.


If the tail is relaxed

If a dog’s tail is relaxed it is because the dog is calm, its mood is placid and balanced.


If the tail is chased

Have you ever seen your dog chasing his own tail? You may think he is expressing a healthy, playful attitude, but he is not. This may be a sign that the dog is not well stimulated or is bored, which is not a good thing. This type of behavior can also occur in the case where there is a tail injury that is bothering him.


How to take care of a dog’s tail

As you can see, a dog’s tail is of utmost importance, so you should take special care of it. How? Basically, a good brushing is enough. The brushing must be soft and if your dog has long hair, you must be aware of the tangles. The most important thing is that your dog can wag its tail as naturally as possible.



How does your dog wag its tail?

Have you recognized any of these postures or movements in your dog’s tail? However, don’t worry too much or jump to conclusions, because you also have to take into account the differences between breeds and the physical constitution of the dog. You know that, if you have any doubts, you can consult your veterinarian.

You can also tell us your experience in the comments box below or through our  Facebook and Instagram profiles or on our YouTube channel.

From our breeder in Las Almenas we hope that this article has been interesting for you and that you have discovered what the tail of a dog is for. Until the next article!

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