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Why Do Dogs Have Tails?

The tail is an essential part of a dog's body. It may not look like that this long, (or short, in some cases) slender, and bendy appendage is very useful for the canines but it does help dogs in a lot of ways that you might not be aware of. There are several advantages that the tail of a canine brings to the table and once yo u get to know them, you will surely start to appreciate these supple attachments a bit more than before. But before we dive into different uses and pros of dog tails, let's first discuss what are these tails actually made of?

There is a fairly big confusion among dog lovers as to what elements actually make up a canine’s tail. Some believe it is made up of soft tissues and it has no bones inside it while others say it is made from strong muscles which help the tail to move and wag like the way it usually moves and wags. Well, it may be sound surprising to many, but dogs’ tail is actually made up of small bones and muscles. It can be seen as an extension of a canine’s backbone. Various small bones called tail vertebrae are known to make up a dog’s tail and the total number of bones inside the tail can vary. It usually ranges from 5 to 23 vertebrae inside dogs’ tail (it depends on the length of the tail, the longer the tail the more the number of vertebrae).

So after eliminating this major confusion from people's mind, let's check out some of the most important uses of the tail which makes it extremely crucial and advantageous for a dog.

Uses of Dog’s tail

  1. Balance

A dog's tail helps him a lot to maintain his balance while he is moving along a slender surface. Tails do this by acting as a counterbalance whenever a dog is moving. Apart from walking on narrow surfaces, tails also help a canine to properly traverse a rocky or slippery area. Also, some dogs are able to climb trees as well and there also, tails play a very important role.

  1. General movement and running

Whether a dog is slowly moving or he's running at a really fast speed, in both the cases, the tail of the canine is helping him a lot to move smoothly from one point to the other. Also, while a dog is making a sharp turn, once again it's his tail that acts as a counterweight and keeps him steady. Because of the tail, a canine avoids all kinds of slips, bumps, and falling down.

  1. Swimming

While a dog is swimming in a pool or any water body, his tail acts like a rudder which helps him to keep a good pace when he's inside the water. A dog usually keeps his tail straight just under the surface of the water while he's floating but whenever he wants to make a turn, his tail also moves to the side of the turn which allows the pooch to move smoothly in a water body.

  1. Distributing a dog’s unique scent

Under the tail of every canine, there are two anal glands which are known to secrete a liquid and that liquid has a very unique scent. The tail helps in releasing and spreading this scent and in this way many dogs are known to communicate with each other. A confident dog will release more scent and he does so by keeping his upright and a fearful pooch will keep his tail tucked between his legs so as to avoid spreading his scent and in this manner, dogs convey what they are feeling from the inside.

  1. Keeping a canine warm

Some arctic or sled dogs are also known to use their tails to keep themselves warm and cozy in harsh climatic conditions. And they do so by curling up and using their tail to cover their sensitive organs and nose and thereby they are able to trap some amount of heat inside their bodies. This helps the dogs to stay warm and comfy.

  1. Communication

Apart from their bark, body actions and facial features, dogs mostly use their tails as a communication device so as to express their feelings. There are a lot of ways in which a canine uses his tail to convey his emotions. If he’s happy, he we’ll be wagging his tail from one side to the other, if he’s sad or anxious, his tail will be in a very low position (usually between his legs), and if he’s feeling confident or he’s alert, his tail will be in the upright position and will be a bit stiff. And in this manner, a dog usually lets out what he’s feeling and thus we should all be much more thankful for a canine’s tail as it helps us to understand our pooches a little bit better.

So, there you have it, these were some of the advantages/uses of a canine’s tail and now you know how crucial this protruding part is for the pooches. It helps them to keep their balance, to smoothly move from one place to another, to move inside the water, to disperse their unique scent, to keep them warm and to convey their inner feelings. And with this, you don’t have to ask anyone about the actual purpose of a dog’s tail as it is clear by now, this whip-like appendage is tremendously useful and important for carrying out various canine functions.