Dog’s tails come in a range of shapes, sizes and colours depending on the breed and trait of the dog. Dog’s tails have a number of uses that most people are completely unaware of, so now I will explain a little bit more about a dog’s tail.
A dog’s tail is an extension of its spine and the tail has between six and twenty three bones (vertebrae), which are enclosed by muscles, which enable the dog to carry out different actions with his tail.
Tails can be sickle, cork screw, curled, straight, or straight up and some breeds may be docked to avoid injuries, although this is normally in hunting dog breeds.
Dogs communicate and show the way they feel by using their tail, they can make their tail wag from side to side with short or long sweeps, they can hold their tail up high when alert, and even bring their tail down low and tuck it under between their hind legs when nervous.
They can also wag their tail in fast and slow movements, we often misinterpret the signals of a dogs’ tail and presume the dog is happy because he is wagging his tail, but it is not always the case.
If the tail wags or sweeps are slow, the dog is a little unsure and cautious of the situation, whereas a fast wag normally shows a very happy dog, but it can also be a sign of aggression too.
When your dog wags his tail he will always give off a scent, so the faster he wags, the more scent he is giving off to other dogs.
A dog’s tail helps to keep a dog balanced while running, climbing and other energetic tasks. Dogs that are good runners normally have very thin long tails, and this helps the dog to stay balanced while running, turning corners and of course to catch up with prey easily.
If your breed of dog is a keen swimmer, normally his tail will be thick, strong and pliable, this is because the tail acts as a rudder when your dog swims, and this helps your dog to move through water quickly and turn corners more sharply.
Lastly, in some breeds the tail is used by dogs as insulation. Artic and Nordic breeds have long bushy tails with thick fur, when these dogs lay in cold conditions they bring their tail up to cover their face, which protects them from the harsh cold.
So when you next look at a dog’s tail, appreciate the many purposes that it actually carries out and I am sure you will never look at dog’s tail in the same light again!