The Tale of the Tail – what does a dog’s tail communicate?

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One of the body features that are truly unique to Chihuahuas is their tail! According to AKC breed standard, the Chihuahua tail should be moderately long, carried sickle either up or out, or in a loop over the back with tip just touching the back.

Long coats have the added beauty and attraction of the fur creating a pluming effect.
The tail should be centered down the midline. However, often times the tail will tip gently to one side or the other. So that’s what a tail looks like, but how does a Chihuahua communicate with her tail?

As you probably know, dogs communicate a lot through their body language, and the tail may be one of the most express body parts on her. Each breed may have a unique “language” they speak, including tail position. Some breeds like Whippets, Greyhounds, and Italian Greyhounds naturally carry their tail between their legs.

However, a content Chihuahua will have her tail in it’s natural “up” position. This demonstrates she is content, eager, and alert. This is kind of their default position.

This is Chihuahua normal!

I like to think of she is SO relaxed and comfortable that she doesn’t mind to be in this vulnerable body position.

Now, if her tail is in this “up” position and it is wagging! Well, we ALL know what that means, right? A happy dog! Happy because you just came home, you’ve got food that she wants, or a toy. Or maybe she’s going to go on an outing. Her little tail, with it’s curl up, wagging away. I think it makes US feel happy too!

On the other hand, a Chihuahua tail that is drooped somewhat – it gets a little more complicated. It could be she’s just checking something out, sniffing the ground, looking for a good place to go potty. It could be she’s on the prowl looking for something. I’ve always thought that a lowered, mid-tail position is a sign of curiosity.

Finally, the down position tail. This could have several meanings. Fear number 1. A dog that is uncertain or fearful of maybe a stranger, maybe a new location, might have her tail tucked in. This doesn’t necessarily mean she’s getting ready to attack or to bite. Just keep an eye on the rest of the body. If she’s really still, looking at a person with a steady sideways glance. I would definitely NOT reach my hand out. That is a clear warning sign. If she thinks she’s done something wrong – chewed on your shoe, pooped in the corner, she might also express this “guilty” look of the tail tucked under.

And that tail tells a lot. Learn to read the tail position. This sign language communicates a lot more than you might realize.


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