Never underestimate the important of your dog’t tail. While many of us rely on it as a barometer of our dog’s mood, a dog’s tail is so much more.

Insulation: Nordic and Arctic breeds have bushy or plumed tails with long dense fur that they pull over their faces to keep out the cold and snow when they’re lying down. Some of these breeds rely on their tails to help them pull a slide by acting as rudders;

Communication (but not the way you think): Every time your dog moves her tail, it acts like a fan and spreads her natural scent around. Her most important smells comes from the anal glands under her tail, and as icky as some of us regard the smelly liquid that comes from those glands, the truth is that the liquid has a smell as unique to dogs as fingerprints are to us. Every time you dog wags her tail, the muscles around her anus contract, exert pressure on the glands and result in a release of the scent;

Balance: When a dog leaps, climbs or walks down a narrow beam, his tail serves as counterbalance. Dogs that run at great speed (like sighthounds) usually have thin tails long in proportion to the rest of their body, and they use that tail as a counterbalance when making turns. Tails can increase their ability to corner and make quick turns which also allows them to keep up with their prey. Tail muscles are pretty critical in stabilizing the vertebral column and supporting the action of the extensor muscles of the back, as well as those of the croup and buttocks;

Swimming!  Some breeds rely on their tails to act as rudders when they’re swimming. Ever notice how breeds bred for swimming usually have tails that are thick at the base, strong enough to clear everything off a coffee table, and very flexible? This same tail helps them glide through water and make quick turns.

You might well wonder about dogs with docked tails or those born without one. Typically, these are breeds that are working, sporting or herding dogs, and in their work, a long tail can be a distinct disadvantage. Just ask the person who has had to amputate their dog’s tail after the poor thing thrashed it into a bloody pulp one too many times.

Image found on Pinterest and happily credited upon receipt of information.

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