Why do dogs have tails?


Quick Answer

Dogs use their tails as tools for communication and balance. Dog tails vary in size and shape depending on the breed, and different breeds have tails suited for more specific tasks.

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Full Answer

Dogs that are happy or excited wag their tails high in the air back and forth. If the tail is high in the air but stiff, the dog could be angry. Bristled fur is another sign of anger. The height of a dog's tail often indicates his confidence. Dogs that feel confident hold their tails high, while tucking the tail between the legs is a sign of submission. Dogs also release scents from their anal glands and spread these scents by wagging their tails. Submissive dogs tuck their tails to avoid releasing their scent and to keep other dogs from sniffing them.

A dog's tail acts as a counterbalance when he is running and needs to make sharp turns. It can also provide additional balance while a dog is climbing. Dogs with thick tails use them as rudders while swimming. Dog breeds used for hunting can signal with their tail when they've spotted game. Sled dogs have bushy, curled tails that they use to cover their noses while they sleep. Dogs even use their tails for entertainment, by chasing them.

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