Dogs are really cute, but Why Do Dogs have Tails? One of the aspects that make them really cute is their tail. If you have a dog at home, then you have most likely seen him or her approach you all excitedly and with a wagging tail.
But we never wonder why they actually have tails. Is it just there to enhance their cuteness, to communicate with humans, or a limb that had its purpose millennia ago but has slowly lost its purpose after millennia of evolution and domestication by humans?
In this article, I will answer the question:
Why do dogs have tails?
One of the functions of a dog’s tail is communication. As I said in the introduction, we can clearly see that when they’re wagging their tail and approaching us, it’s a sign that they’re excited to see you and want to greet you.
Tail wagging, however, isn’t always a sign of friendliness. Tail wagging can also be a sign of aggression and that it’s ready to bite! It is important to know the different ways a dog’s tail moves to avoid danger.
If a dog’s tail is wagging left and right and approaches you with excitement, then it’s most likely that it’s a friendly wag. But, when it wags its tail in a vertical direction and at a high speed, it could be a sign of aggression.
Dogs have the ability to notice the body language of different dogs, and depending on the position of the tail, they can tell whether a dog is a threat or a potential friend/mate.
They can also tell if a dog is more dominant or submissive. Submissive dogs tend to tuck their tails to hide their scent while dominant dogs have their tails raised, raising their tails allows them to spread their unique scent as if to say “I’m, here.” to other dogs.
Why do dogs have tails? One function is the ability to communicate with other dogs through body language, but they also use it to improve their motion and maneuvering whenever they run, jump or play.
Whenever you’re playing with your dog, observe how its tail moves when you throw a toy for them to catch it. If your dog needs to take a right, the tail will move to the right, if they need to take a left, the tail will move the left.
Not always, however, especially at high speeds. If a dog is moving at a high speed and they want to take a right or left, they might want to use their tail as a sort of “break” mechanism due to its weight, allowing them to “drift” to the desired direction. This prevents them from stumbling or rolling over.
The human equivalent of this is when we shift our body to the side whenever we want to change our direction while running, allowing us to decelerate and change our course.
Dogs also use their tails for balance. If you observe carefully you’ll see that dogs with tails are much better at staying or walking on an elevated surface, like a flight of stairs or a couch, as opposed to dogs that don’t have tails.
A real-life example would be my French Bulldog, Tulip, he has no tail so it’s much harder for him to climb the stairs. In fact, he can only reach the second step, and when he does and he wants to go back down he always drops to the ground awkwardly as opposed to landing with stability.
But my Shih Tzu, Iris, is incredibly nimble and can climb and descend the stairs effortlessly and quickly, oh and of course, he has a long tail. Coincidence? I think not!
And if you’re wondering how tailless dogs communicate: They communicate through other means like their ears, face, or positioning of their bodies. They tend to be more shy, like my dog Tulip, because they want to miscommunicate their intentions.
Some dog breeds have tails that allow them to perform certain actions that most other dogs couldn’t. Water dogs, for example, are dog breeds that are especially good at swimming compared to other dog breeds.
Breeds like Barbets, Labradors, and Poodles are all examples of water dogs. Why are they so good at swimming? The secret is in their thick tails! Imagine a boat, with its tail as its rudder.
So, why do dogs have tails? There are many reasons why dogs have tails, mostly for communication and movement, and depending on the breed of your dog it might even be able to do cool tricks and compete in dog competitions that require a lot of coordination and movement skills. Who knows your best friend might be the next Michael Jordan of dogs!
I hope you learn something new today, also you can check out my other articles: