How The Dog Uses Its Tail

Today we are going to check out how the dog uses its tail. A dog’s tail is an integral part of its communication system. The dog wags its tail to show pleasure or as an invitation to come for a walk or to play. It can be lowered as a part of an aggression display, or tucked under in fear and submission.

Apart from its use as a tool of communications, the tail has physical uses. For example, water dogs use their tail as a rudder when swimming.


Many breeds suffer the indignity of tail docking. But the importance of the tail for self-expression is obvious from the attempts docked dogs make to wag their stumps. Some of them wag their entire rear end in joy, but the more subtle signals aren’t available to them.

This can cause problems-they may find it impossible to signal submission adequately and end up in a fight. In fact, the initial aim of docking in breeds like Dobermans and Rottweilers, was probably to fore aggression by preventing adequate expression of submission.

It s difficult to justify the idea of tail docking, although many breeds’ official standards require it. Removing a dog’s tail does make it easier to judge in shows, but there’s no argument for removing the tails of working dogs. Responsible grooming will ensure that feathered tails of working dogs, such as Spaniels, are kept tidy.

In short, the tail is an important tool of canine expression, and we should think twice before docking any dog’s tail.

Please feel free to leave a comment below, I will respond!


You And Your Dog by David Taylor

Shetland Sheepdog


6 thoughts on “How The Dog Uses Its Tail”

  1. I have had a couple of dogs, but I´m not an expert, so finding your page is invaluable advice to help us understand our Pug better. He is quite sensitive.   I have noticed he does wag his tiny tail when he wants to go for a walk. One thing I have noticed though is that he walks with it relatively erect whenever we walk, and he can be quite aggressive, barking at other dogs if they come close.  Why do you think this might be? It was fascinating to learn about Dobermans,  Rottweilers and tail docking. I´m inclined to agree there does not seem to be much justification for this practice.

    • Thank you for your comments.  Well, it could be one of two things, either he’s protecting you, or he hasn’t become socialized yet.  He probably needs a little training, and maybe more frequent exposure to other dogs.  The tail docking is kind of barbaric.  I hope you have a great day!

  2. What a great post! I know basic ones, but had no idea what bringing the tail to each side means. What detailed information. I hope my little dog is gonna appreciate my better communication skills now. Thank you for sharing, it’s really an informative article, and every dog owner should be actually aware of this.

  3. This is great information for anyone that has a dog in their life! It is very important to know everything you can about our four legged friends.

    The part about tail docking bums me out, but it’s true. It is removing an important communication mechanism. 

    Fantastic content and extremely educational. Thank you for sharing this.

    Best regards,


    • Thank you for your comments.  You’re right about the tail docking.  I’m glad you liked my post.  Have a great day.


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