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Via: Dog The Blog

Why do dogs have tails

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Dogs are one of the tailed members of the animal kingdom. The tail can be short stumps, well feathered, long or short – all the same, this extension of the spine has many purposes for a dog. Dog tails, no doubt makes a dog more beautiful. A well feathered tail that curves on a Japanese Spitz’ or an American Eskimo Dog’s back will not fail to gain the dog admiring attention. A beautiful tail certainly enhances the appearance of the dog but the tail is used by the dog in many other ways as well.

A dog’s tail has one very important role – as a balancing tool. Hunting breeds of dogs are very fast runners. These dogs have to be agile as well to overpower their prey. Tightrope walkers use balancing bars, dogs use their tails when trailing their prey on narrow ledges. Without the tail serving as a counter balance, a dog running at great speed that has to make an abrupt turn will surely topple over. Water retrievers make use of the tail as a rudder that makes swimming easier.

Dogs can’t talk but their tails can speak volumes. The tail is used by the dog to communicate not only with dogs but with humans as well. Even a non-dog enthusiast will know that a happily wagging tail indicates the friendly nature of the dog. Bared teeth and a stiff tail held high is as good as a written sign that the dog must be approached with caution.

The tail is an important body part that allows dogs to understand each other. Moreover, the tail is the dog’s distinctive identification card. When the tail is raised, a small amount of anal gland secretion is released. This scent that is unique to every dog is used by dogs to identify each other. The rank of a dog in the pack can easily be distinguished by observing the way the tail is held. Alpha dogs are seen with a tail that is held very high and being wagged stiffly and widely. A tail held lower and wagged slowly signifies that the dog is lower in rank.

A dog’s tail is used for comfort too. Similar to a cow’s tail, a dog’s tail is used as a swatter that will drive pesky flies and other insects away. Serving as a scarf, a tail provides the dog with much needed warmth in very cold weather. A bushy tail that is draped on the face allows Northern dogs to sleep comfortably in the snow.

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robbie on September 7th 2010 in Dog Ownership, Dog body language