A Golden Retriever is a medium to large-sized dog breed. Having a fluffy, feathery tail isn’t just a fancy fixture on their body. It has many important roles and functions in their daily life. In this article, we will learn the answer to some questions surrounding the Golden Retriever tail, its structure, usage and how they use it.
The Anatomy of the Golden Retriever Tail
There are two lines of Golden Retrievers which are the working line, known as Red Tail Golden Retrievers and the show type known as the Golden Retrievers. These two types share many common characteristics though they have superficial differences when it comes to their tails. In general, Golden Retriever tail length should be long, extended to the point of the hock but not below. This means that their tail length should be 3.5 inches up to 12 inches long. As working dogs, Red Tail Golden Retrievers have less feathery tails in contrast with the show type Golden Retrievers whose tails are shorter and fluffier.
The Golden Retriever Tail Language
Aside from using their tails as a rudder for swimming, Golden Retrievers also use their tails to show their feelings or to express their current state with other dogs. If we will observe closely, a Golden Retriever puppy tail isn’t usually seen wagging but shaking instead. They usually start communicating with their parents and siblings at around 1.5 months.
While most people who see a Golden Retriever wagging tail will always interpret it as a happy dog, it isn’t always true. The direction of tail wagging expresses different emotions. A tail, wagging more to the left, can mean negative emotions and feelings while rightward wagging generally means a happy state.
Happy or Excited
A happy or excited Golden Retriever will wag its tail either slowly or crazily. Its tail is usually on a natural level or a bit lower. You often see this in Goldens who are happy to see their owners back from work. They also do this when they play fight and chase with other dogs to signal that what they are doing is all for fun.
Calm and Relaxed
A Golden that feels very calm and relaxed has its tail held in a natural position, or sometimes a bit lower away from its body.
Dominant or Aggressiveness
If your Golden Retriever wants to say “I am the boss”, its tail is held up high with slightly curved over at the back. It can also mean “I am ready to fight”. This is especially true if there are other dogs around. The clue is the higher the tail is being carried the more aggressive it feels.
Nervous or Scared
If a Golden Retriever carries its tail very low between its legs, it is a sign telling you “I am feeling insecure” or “I am nervous”. But if its tail is hidden under the body, it is feeling scared.
Different Golden Retriever Tail Problems and Their Causes
The Golden Retriever tail is more exposed to a lot of problems than any other body parts. It is actually the spine’s extension, yet it is flexible. The tail has its own muscles, bones, and cartilages which makes it very active and vulnerable at the same time.
Limber Tail, Acute Caudal Myopathy, swimmer’s tail, cold water tail also known as the dead tail is a very common tail illness in Golden Retrievers. It is a muscle injury characterized by sudden excruciating pain and causes the tail to limp and dangle lifelessly. This usually happens after swimming in very cold water or after doing physical activities such as intense exercise, hunting, etc.
Since this disease is caused by overworked tail muscles, a few days of rest will bring the tail back to its normal state.
A dislocated tail or a broken tail is a condition wherein Golden Retrievers fracture or dislocate their tails from accidents like getting stepped on or caught in doors. Treatment of broken tail usually depends on the severity and area of the fracture or dislocation. If the fracture is located at the end of the tail, it usually won’t require any surgery or cast. But for severely damaged tailbones, partial amputation may be needed.
Golden Retriever tail hair loss is very common. It is mostly caused by allergies due to flea bites, environmental allergens or food intolerance. They are usually very itchy causing Golden Retrievers to scratch until it becomes irritated leading to rough hair or hair loss.
Tail hair loss can also be a sign of hormonal diseases like hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism causes the entire portion of the body to lose hair evenly, especially in the tail area.
Why do Golden Retrievers chew their tails?
When we hear “Golden Retrievers”, we usually think of a happy golden-colored dog running and playing. But just like human beings, they can also have psychological issues like stress, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), separation anxiety and depression that cause them to chew their tails. Golden Retriever biting tail may also be due to boredom and loneliness. Two classic scenarios that will cause them to chew their tails are putting them in crates that are too small and leaving them in the house alone.
Why does my Golden Retriever tail curl?
Curling of Golden Retriever tail is called a “gay tail”. Many breeders will always say it is an indication of happiness and excitement. However, a “gay tail” is a sign of a congenital deformity of the spine’s vertebrae called hemivertebrae.
A Golden Retriever tail curl is also considered as a fault in the gene. This disqualifies them from joining in show rings.
When do Golden Retrievers’ Tail get fluffy?
A Golden Retriever is mostly identified with its fluffy tail. At around three months old, Golden Retriever puppy tails begin feathering or growing long darker hair on their tails. Since they don’t shed their puppy fur, it becomes the undercoat as the long hair grows in which will eventually make their tail fluffy and lustrous. When the puppy tail starts to get fluffy, the whole body starts to grow adult hair as well.
Golden Retriever tails are as important as other parts of their bodies. Their tails can function as a swimming tool, communication device and even health indicator. Learning to look at their tails can help us understand a lot about them which makes taking care of them a lot easier.