The way a dog holds its tail can reveal a lot about it, including its current social standing and mental health. Naturally, there may be some variances based on how the dog wears its tail in its natural state. For instance, the way a West Highland White Terrier carries its little, carrot-shaped tail typically differs from the way a golden retriever carries his flowing, feathery tail or significantly differs from the way a greyhound carries his thin, whip-like tail.
Keep an eye out for the dog tail positions described below in your own dogs and how they carry their tails throughout different encounters with other dogs. Doing so may help you start to learn more about how your dog truly feels and perceives the world.
Your dog carries its tail almost horizontally, yet it is flexible and points away from its body. This indicates that they are carefully observing their environment.
2Your dog is stiffly and horizontally pointing its tail away from its body while holding it straight out. As you observe, you’ll see that this is a step in the process that takes place anytime they encounter a stranger or an invader for the first time.
3Realize that a dog that is dominating, self-assured, and feeling in charge will frequently have its tail held high in a position that is halfway between horizontal and vertical. This could also be a dog’s way of saying, “I’m the boss here,” or it could be a sign of dominance. Don’t antagonize me.
4A dog’s tail carried up and curled slightly over its back denotes the phrase “I’m the top dog.” This is frequently how a dominating and self-assured dog acts when it feels in control.
5You can tell your dog is feeling very relaxed and that everything is fine if the tail is carried lower than horizontal but still separated from the legs.
6If your dog carries its tail downward and closer to its rear legs, this could indicate a number of different things, including “I’m not feeling well” or “I’m a little depressed.” It could also signify “I feel uneasy,” which is a common reaction in many dogs when they are in an unfamiliar or novel environment or circumstance.
7If a dog’s tail is tucked between its legs, it frequently expresses fear or begs not to be mistreated. This is especially typical whenever the dog perceives a more dominating canine or person around. This kind of tail carriage can also be interpreted as “I accept my lowly position in the pack and I have no desire to challenge you in any way.
Let’s discuss a few more instances of how a dog carries its tail now. Bristling hair on the dog’s back or tail is frequently a symptom of hostility, according to experts. If the dog adjusts the location of its tail, this connotation may also change in intensity. Consequently, if the tail is carried straight out from the body, it implies “I’m ready to fight if you are! “, however if the tail is moved slightly up or over its back, it means “I’m not frightened of you and will fight to establish that I’m really the boss. This is severe, especially if it involves two aggressive dogs.
9The same thing frequently applies if your dog carries its tail high and with a crick or sharp bend in it, as in the example of the tail bristling. This may also be seen as an aggressive indication.
10A dog’s nice broad tail wag frequently suggests “I like you.” This behavior is frequently displayed when dogs are playing together, such as when one dog appears to be fighting the other while pouncing, growling, and barking while the other dog’s tail is wagging, reminding the other dog that this is all in good fun. A wide tail wag might also be interpreted as “I’m happy.
11If your dog is showing a slow tail wag and holding its tail at half-mast, it frequently means “I’m confused.” The speed and amount of the tail wags will frequently change dramatically when the dog finally understands the issue that was confusing it, and they will typically also become noticeably larger.
Dogs don’t speak like humans do, yet they do exchange messages with one another and with us. Study sign language. They are skilled readers of body language and frequently can read you before you can read them completely. These basic gesture descriptions, however, will assist you in the future in reading your dog more accurately if you put a little practice, patience, and a strong desire to understand your dog into it.
Why has my dog’s tail suddenly fallen down?
In the human world, having your tail between your legs signifies regret and contrition. We can tell when our dogs literally perform this activity that they are trying to communicate with us in some way. But does it share the same connotation as our own slang?
Different Heightsor LowsMean Different Things
The definition of a downward tail position varies depending on the dog, like many other canine actions do. Your dog may be communicating with you in a very subtle way. So much so that it might require some investigation to determine exactly what is going on.
Unsurprisingly, a downward tail may be a sign of capitulation. However, it can also be a sign that a dog is scared or worried. The posture of the dog’s tail will reveal how emotionally stable he is; the more tightly it is tucked against the body, the more obedient, timid, or nervous the dog is.
However, a low-hanging dog tail could also indicate the complete opposite. More specifically, it can be a sign that your dog is at ease and comfortable. This occurs as a result of the dog’s tail essentially following its natural curve.
There May be a Medical Reason Behind the Tail’s Position
Your normally bouncy, active dog may have limber tail if he consistently experiences prolonged periods of time when his tail is down rather than straight or pointing upward. The ailment, which is also referred to by the titles cold water tail, broken wag, or limpy tail, can be brought on by overexertion, too much time spent in a box, or even a change in environment. Even though it could make your dog uncomfortable, the ailment isn’t too tough to treat as long as you involve your local veterinarian in the recovery process.
Other Possible Medically-Based Reasons for a Down Tail
Although a limber tail is not particularly alarming, there are a few additional tail-specific wounds that your dog may acquire that do require more attention and care. A tail that is always down could mean that your dog is in a lot of pain. Some of this discomfort may be caused directly by the tail, but it may also be related to pain in your dog’s back or hindquarters.
Some tail injuries, like a cut or a bite, may appear more severe than they really are. This is due to the fact that a lot of blood passes via the tail. If the skin of the tail is ruptured, the ensuing bleeding may be extended, and it may take longer for the tail to heal than other body parts.
The harm to the tail may occasionally be self-inflicted. Dogs who are anxious sometimes chew on their tail to calm themselves down. Another sign of a flea issue could be a propensity to bite their tail.
The injuries coming from the base of the tail are not as mild, despite the fact that these specific ailments are. In these circumstances, a downward-pointing tail can be a sign of damage to the muscles that enable him to urinate and defecate. This kind of damage could be related to other ailments that need to be treated, such incontinence or constipation.
On the majority of breeds, a lack of tail movement can indicate that this specific injury might be present. There is a good likelihood that your dog’s bowel and bladder muscles are malfunctioning if he has bloated hindquarters and does not lift his tail before removing his feces. If you notice any symptom, make an appointment with your veterinarian right away.
Learn the Language of Dog Through Your Pooch’s Tail
Knowing how to analyze how your dog’s tail moves, bends, shakes, and wags is a great approach to deepen your relationship with your dog because these movements are not random. In this situation, being aware of the precise cause of your dog’s tail-pointing will help you console him or provide him with the support he needs. In the end, this will enable your dog to have greater faith in you, which may strengthen your relationship with him.
Why does my dog’s tail wag while he walks?
Your dog’s tail carry when walking is a clear indicator of both their mental and current social status. Dogs who behave in this way frequently indicate that they are scared or upset about something. However, the breed and temperament of the dog also play a role in this. For instance, Whippets and Greyhounds have a lower tail carriage, whereas Chow Chows and Chinese Shar-Peis carry their tails high and curved. The same is true for Golden Retrievers and West Highland White Terriers. Generally speaking, a dog walking with his tail down may be afraid, submissive, or anxious, whereas a dog walking with his tail up may be feeling eager, alert, or dominant. He likely also feels threatened and scared by a person or animal that he thinks as stronger and more powerful than him.
Before making any assumptions, you should carefully observe your dog and understand his personality. If your dog carries its tail lower and closer to its rear legs, it may indicate depression, illness, or insecurity. The dog is frequently extremely nervous or on guard if their tail is tucked between their legs. Other common indications of defensiveness include trembling of the tail, growling, stiff-looking ears, and showing of the teeth. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t be concerned if your dog’s tail is hanging down loosely and is not tucked in between the back legs. It might merely indicate that they are at ease, at ease, relaxed, or content. On the other hand, if you observe your dog’s tail is dropped but not shoved down between his back legs, you should speak with your veterinarian about a potential stomach ailment or a physical injury. When he is generally uninterested in his surroundings or simply feeling frightened and bashful, you may also observe him walking with his tail down, occasionally sticking out his tongue, and keeping his ears pushed back.
Why is my dog’s tail no longer curled?
The term “limp tail” describes an injury to a dog’s tail brought on by vigorous exercise. This illness is formally referred to as acute caudal myopathy. The muscles, ligaments, and tendons at the base of the tail sustain temporary damage as a result of strenuous activity. Occasionally, the vertebrae may sustain slight injury. A dog with a limp tail won’t be able to wag or elevate its tail since it hurts.
How should a dog with a limp tail be handled?
Dog owners occasionally miss the symptoms of cold tail syndrome because the condition frequently resolves on its own.
Rest is usually prescribed as a treatment for a limp tail, and most cases get well within a few days to two weeks.
However, it’s imperative that you take your puppy to the vet if you observe any symptoms of a flaccid tail. Even though they are more serious disorders, some health conditions, such as intervertebral disc disease, tail cancer, or impacted anal glands, might have the appearance of limber tail syndrome.
You never know when your dog could require a visit to the vet. Create a pet insurance plan so that you can rest easy knowing that you will have help taking care of them.
When ill, do dogs tuck their tails?
Dogs communicate with one another by wagging their tails. An angry dog will have an upright or fluffed-up tail, while a happy dog will wag its tail.
The various movements and postures of a dog’s tail can reveal a lot about the animal’s emotions or the message it is attempting to convey.
There are several possible meanings for a dog’s tail between its legs. We frequently first consider causes such as fear or suffering.
Trying to figure out what’s going on might be frustrating for you as a dog owner (and perhaps even for your dog!).
But if a dog keeps tucking its tail, it can be an indication of another issue if it does it repeatedly.
Dogs do tuck their tails between their legs as a response to a variety of medical issues aside from fear or general nervousness.
How can I tell if my dog is hurt?
If your dog is in discomfort, they might:
- demonstrate agitation.
- yell, growl, or cry out.
- Be sensitive to touch or you may dislike being handled.
- irritate you and start to snarl.
- Become more inactive, quiet, or cover up.
- Walk awkwardly or reluctantly.
- Stop eating and get depressed.
- breathe quickly and shallowly, and your heart rate is elevated.
Does a limp tail self-heal?
2. Examine the events leading up to the commencement of limber tail so you can prevent resetting the condition.
Lucky, my typically vivacious mixed-breed dog, and my husband returned from an off-leash stroll one day last summer without much of her abundant energy. We jokingly remarked that she was out of shape because she immediately headed for her bed. She had knee surgery six months prior, so we assumed her stamina hadn’t fully returned.
We grew worried as the hours passed and she continued to exhibit little interest in moving. She appeared to struggle with sitting and sleeping down, shifting positions quite cautiously. Even worse, despite the fact that the dog generally wags its tail carelessly, we were unable to elicit a single joyous tail thump from it. She conveyed that something wasn’t right by gazing at us with sorrowful eyes and drooping ears.
I began to fret about every scenario that might have occurred. Did she consume anything unsavory while hiking? Had she aggravated her knee again? Although she was consuming food and liquids and had a normal temperature, it was obvious that the animal was not in good health. An immediate examination was required.
Her entire body was inspected by our veterinarian, and it was in the stern that she discovered the issue. She said, “I guess she has a sprained tail. “It should heal on its own in a week, but you can give her an anti-inflammatory if she appears particularly sensitive.
As expected, Lucky’s drooping and oddly silent tail regained its loft and wag after four days. The fact that I had never heard of a sprained tail in all the years I had written about dogs still shocked me. It turns out that the condition is common among trainers and dog owners of particular breeds, and although the term “sprain” is rather misleading, the condition’s official name is limber tail syndrome.
The Limber Tail Checklist
If your dog displays any of the following symptoms:
There was no evident damage to the tail (such as from a slammed door or a stray foot).
It happens shortly after intense exercise, protracted travel, swimming in cold water, or an abrupt shift in the weather.
Despite the floppy tail, his vital signs are okay and he is still eating and drinking properly.
The tail gradually becomes better over a few days. Visit YouTube to see a video of a canine with a flexible tail.
A Tail That Doesn’t Wag
According to Janet Steiss, DVM, PhD, PT, the illness appears to be brought on by muscular damage that may have resulted from overexertion. Steiss is a collaborator of the 1999 study on limber tail that identified the type of muscle injury, and an associate professor at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. On dogs with limber tails, researchers used electromyography (EMG), imaging, and tissue testing. They came to the conclusion that the coccygeal muscles close to the base of the tail had been damaged.
A noticeably limp tail, which can appear in a variety of ways, is indicative of limber tail muscle damage.
There are many levels of severity, according to Dr. Steiss.
The condition of the tail can range from mild—holding it below horizontal—to severe—hanging straight down and resembling a wet noodle—or anything in between.
Some dogs’ tails may protrude a few inches before drooping, while others may have elevated hair at the base of their tails due to swelling. Some animals, like Lucky, may have trouble sitting or lying down, depending on the seriousness of the injury and the dog’s pain threshold. And many dogs diminish or stop wagging altogether, perhaps because they are sore.
Any dog with an undocked tail can develop a limp tail, but some breeds—particularly retrieving and pointing dogs—seem to be more prone to it than others. Labrador, Golden, and Flat-Coated Retrievers, English Pointers and Setters, Beagles, and Foxhounds are a few of these breeds. All ages and both sexes may be impacted. Other names for the ailment include limp tail, rudder tail, broken tail, and even “dead tail” (particularly in Retrievers, which frequently display symptoms after swimming in icy water).
The illness passes within a few days or a week and typically has no lasting symptoms. Dr. Steiss claims that there is anecdotal data suggesting that giving anti-inflammatory medications soon after the episode starts will help lessen its duration, but no veterinary studies have yet verified this.
Dr. Steiss claims that while the precise etiology is unknown, a number of other elements appear to be connected to limber tail. Overexertion appears to be a frequent antecedent, particularly when an animal is forced into vigorous exercise when they are not in good health (as was the case with Lucky’s dog).
According to her, if hunting dogs have been lying about all summer and their owner takes them out for a whole (hunting) weekend, the dog may start to exhibit signs of a limber tail by Sunday night.
Otherwise healthy, the dog has been exercising to the point where the muscles in his tail are overused.
Prolonged confinement, such as when dogs are moved great distances in crates, is another risk factor. Dr. Steiss warns that competition dogs may arrive at their destination with a limber tail if they are driven overnight to a field trial without taking a few breaks outside the crate.
Climates that are uncomfortable, such cold and damp weather, or exposure to cold water, can also cause limber tail. Retrievers appear to be more prone to developing symptoms following a swimming session, and some, according to Dr. Steiss, are so sensitive to temperature that they exhibit limber tail symptoms after taking a chilly bath.
Limber Tail Syndrome: A Tricky Diagnosis
The sight of a typically lively tail hanging lifelessly might be distressing for an owner. Since a dog’s tail is a reliable indicator of both mood and health, it is possible for it to signify anything from anxiousness to a serious illness when it is carried low and unmoving. Although limber tail syndrome has been known for a while, it isn’t very prevalent, and many veterinarians, particularly those who don’t frequently work with hunting or retrieving dogs, are unaware of it. As a result, many diagnoses can be made.
A lanky tail may be misinterpreted as a sign of a prostate or anal gland issue, a caudal spine injury, a broken tail, or even spinal cord disease. You may alternatively say “sprained tail,” which has several uses.
Sporting canines are the area of expertise for Eutaw, Alabama-based consulting veterinarian and American Canine Sports Medicine Association member Ben Character, DVM. He has observed numerous instances of limber tail but does not classify it as a sprain.
“Sprain is a horrible phrase for it,” says Dr. Character, “since a sprain denotes a joint and issues with the ligaments surrounding a joint.
We know that everything here is muscular.
Dr. Steiss concurs that the term “sprained tail” is somewhat of a catch-all, generalized expression that simply denotes that the tail is malfunctioning. “Sprain isn’t the right phrase here, but the tail has all types of joints since it has so many little vertebrae.
How can a dog’s owner determine whether their dog is in pain due to a limber tail? Dr. Steiss advises considering the circumstances surrounding the development of the droopy tail, particularly if any of the risk factors were present.
“Limber tail begins suddenly. She claims that it is not a condition in which the tail weakens over time. It is an acute inflammation instead. The tail usually becomes unexpectedly limp, and the dog may exhibit signs of pain close to the base of the tail. The dog gradually gets better over the following three to four days, and by four to seven days, he’s usually back to normal.
It’s a hard clinical decision to make, according to Dr. Character. A general practitioner won’t be able to accurately identify limber tail without using radiography to look at the inflammation or electromyopathy (of the tissue).