The Tale of Mutt Tails: What Your Dog’s Tail Says About Its Roots
Even though everyone says “Oh, they’re just a stray”. you know you have the best dog in the world. Let’s be honest; You are a little curious to know which breeds were mixed to find your unique canine companion. A good place to start is at the end … at the end.
Most, not all dogs have tails. Some breeds like Australian Shepherds and Pembroke Welsh Corgis are born with tiny bumps of fatty tissue, where their tail should be happily waving.
Most experienced dog owners know that their tail tells you a lot about your dog’s mood. Tails held high are usually a sign of an alert and conscious dog. The tail down and between the legs generally indicates a scared and nervous dog. Ruffled tails are normally a sign that a dog is on the defensive.
Some behaviorists even believe that the way a dog wags its tail from left to right or vice versa indicates its familiarity with what they are meeting or greeting. From left to right, it means a stranger. From right to left, it means they recognize you.
The configuration, shape, and size of your dog’s tail are markers of your dog’s intriguing gene pool. The combinations make it even more fascinating. The standing position is known as the high position, where the tail appears to be a natural extension of the dog’s back or upper line. The other is low set, where the tail appears to start below the top line. Terriers, beagles or foxhounds, like many dogs that hunt in packs, have a high tail. Sight hounds, such as greyhounds, whippets, and Afghan hounds, have low-set tails, starting lower than the top line.
The length and shape of your dog’s tail will give you an idea of his ancestry. The tails are long, medium, short and wavy. They are classified into straight, threaded / curly, gay, saber, cone, whip, plum, otter, brush, sickle, snap, carrot, and tuft.
Here are some interesting clues that you may find helpful when doing detective work on your mutt’s various pedigrees.
Northern cold weather breeds such as Akita, Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Spitz, Shiba Inu, Keeshond, American Eskimo Dog, Swedish and Finish Lapphunds and Chow-Chow, to name a few, have tails that are normally brushed, shaped like sickle and roll forward. This is useful for keeping your face, especially your nose, warm while snuggling into a large C, to retain as much body heat as possible while you sleep. Interestingly, Chihuahuas also have a sickle-shaped tail.
Otter tails function as rudders for water dogs such as Labrador Retrievers and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and other Sport class dogs. Their tails are generally thick, medium to short in relation to body size, thickly furred and tapering to a blunt tip. This style of tail is very useful for these swimmers.
Does your pooch have a carrot tail? Would that be identified as fairly short, thicker at the base, and tapered to a squat point? If so, the tail was most likely designed to be grabbed by a farmer, to pull the dog out of the vermin holes. If your dog’s tail is carrot-shaped, there is likely a West Highland Terrier or two somewhere in his gene pool.
If your dog has a tufted tail, he probably has a poodle! Poodles’ tails are set high on their backs, straight and neatly stripped … with a tuft at the end!
Quick tails are also common in northern breeds and in colder climates. You’ll find stray dogs with Alaskan Malamute, American Eskimo Dog, and even small Pomeranian ancestors that commonly share this shaped tail.
The royal swordtail is generally associated with Great Danes, Swiss Mountain Dogs, American Staffordshire Terriers, and many types of Pointers.
That little lump of fatty tissue on your favorite stray is also known as a bob tail. It is found naturally in Old English Sheepdogs, Pembroke Welsh Corgis, and some Australian Shepherds.
The perky tail is held horizontally, is thick, slightly curved, and has a small, usually white, tuft at the tip. Found in Beagles, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Border Collies, and Wire Fox Terriers.
Certain herding breeds, such as German Shepherds, Collies, Belgian Malinois, and Belgian Tervurens, have obvious saber-shaped tails. They are long and low. The mischievous Cardigan Welsh Corgis also have their tails low.
Your mutt may carry one or two genes for some type of Terrier, such as Manchester, Border, or Airedale if its tail is tapered. They are typically thicker at the base, set high on the back, and held up or out. Dachshunds also fit into this tail category, as do Dalmatians and English setters.
Corkscrew or curly tails are found in Bulldogs and Pugs.
Is your stray dog’s tail low, whip-shaped, and slightly curved? They could be Whippet, Wolfhound, or Ibizan Hound.
A tall tail, a kind of natural extension of your stray dog’s body, could be an indication of a bloodhound’s ancestry. Perhaps your dog has a Beagle, Fox Hound, or even Airedale touch.
If your dog’s tail is feathered, it could suggest that Belgian Tervuren, Saluki, or even Borzoi blood is flowing through those veins.
Bottom line: your dog’s tail, as a rule, tells the stories of its lineage. Let’s face it, does it really matter what variety of pedigree secrets are swimming in your Heinz 57 gene pool? They are and always will be the best dog in the world for you. But, you have to admit that it might be challenging and fun to embark on the adventure to find out where they came from.