Tails…what are the purpose

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Ever wonder why your dog has a tail? What’s the purpose? Well, there are many reasons and some may surprise you!!

If you watch your dog play, you will see his/her tail working to assist with skillful movement. As our dog needs to change direction while running, his body needs a little extra help. His front legs will go in the direction that he intends to go, while the rear legs continue in the original direction. The tail, however, will turn in the new direction. Tossing the tail in the same direction the body is turning serves as a counterweight to your dog’s body, ensuring that your dog doesn’t spin off course or tumble around.

The tail serves as a counterbalance on a regular basis. If you watch a dog walk along a narrow surface, you’re almost sure to see the tail hard at work. It helps maintain his balance by putting its weight on the opposite side of the dog’s tilt, much like a tightrope walker balances on a rope.

Most of us probably know the tail best for communication. We are regularly greeted by the happy wagging tail. But dogs use their tails to communicate mostly with other dogs. A happy dog will likely be wagging her tail, while a frightened dog will have it tucked between her legs. However, in dog language, a wagging tail doesn’t always mean a happy or friendly dog. Wagging tails contract the muscles surrounding the anal glands underneith the tail, spreading the dog’s unique scent. This is why many dominant dogs keep their tails higher, letting everyone know they’re around. Submissive dogs, though, will keep their tails down in an effort to reduce their scent and go unnoticed. Tail wagging appears to be a learned behavior. Puppies do not wag their tails until they are about 30-50 days old. That’s because that’s the age that the littermates start playing and interacting with each other.

Some tail uses are based on their breed. Northern breeds are known to cover their noses with their thick tails when it’s especially cold out. Running dogs have whip-like tails that allow them to change direction at high speeds. Water dogs, such as retrievers and water-rescue dogs have thick tails that act as rudders.

Very interesting!! Articles like this give us more insight into our pups lives. They are, after all, extremely complex creatures.
Once again, my blog brings me back to the reality that Lucy Lu is not a fury child, but a complex canine creature!!

The factual information in this article is based on an article, “Why Do Dogs Have Tails?” by Katie Finlay of the American Kennel Club.

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