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Why is my dog’s tail to one side?

Why is my dog’s tail to one side?

Are you worried that your dog is a little abnormal? A leaning tail could get you worried. However, unless you understand the reasons behind this change, it will be significantly challenging to make the right decisions about your dog. Here are a few insights to help you in this process.

Why Is My Dog’s Tail Leaning to One Side?

Your dog can wag its tail from one side to another. This tail could also lean to one side more often than you expect. However, it should worry you if the leaning seems way too abnormal. Remember, there are four reasons this tail could lean towards one side: injury, anal sacs, emotions, and pregnancy.

Anal sacs

Anal sacs are the two pouches located on either side of the dog’s anus. These anal sacs have multiple sweat glands that often produce an excretion and scent that suggest various aspects of the dog. For example, this smell could give you insights into the dog’s health, sex drive, and age. However, any infection or injury to the anal sacs will cause significant discomfort, forcing the dog to put its tail to one side. Holding the tail in different positions often aims at alleviating the pain experienced.


An injured tail could also be a problem. Usually, the dog will minimize pain to the injured tail by leaning it to one side. Such physical injuries come with different extents of pain, depending on what caused it. Remember, most injuries come from dog fights, rough play sessions, and getting trapped in tight spaces and doors. Ensure that you inspect your dog to ascertain these injuries. Deep cuts might highlight fractures, meaning you need to attend to them soon.

Heat or pregnancy

Pregnancy and heat is a common phenomenon in dogs. Notably, a bitch is likely to lean its tail to one side when at the height of her season. This aspect helps show that the dog is excited and willing to mate. It will often want to walk around its friends with the tail in an unnatural position. You could also witness this aspect at certain stages of pregnancy.


Dogs express their emotions in different ways, including wagging their tails. Yet, they will position their tails in a relatively unnatural position in certain instances. This dog could also use this aspect to prove their confidence, especially when facing a threat. On the other hand, if the dog puts the tail relatively lower and on the left side, it could show that it is uneasy, anxious, or unhappy.

Limber tail

In rare instances, your dog could be suffering from a limber tail condition. This condition is caused by a muscle sprain, forcing the tail to remain on one side. You’ll expect this issue if your dog swims for prolonged periods or gets confined in a crate for a long time. However, this problem is only common in working and sporting breeds, including beagles and Labrador Retrievers.

Why Is My Dog’s Tail Curled to One Side?

Every time you see your dog’s tail curled, you’ll assume that it is happy, alert, or confident. For example, your dog could be in a happy or normal state if its tail is curled over its back. If this tail is a little bristly when curled, you can be sure that the dog is alert. Yet, this might not always be true. Various instances could prove that your dog is facing other issues besides being happy or alert.


Some dogs have naturally curled tails. Common breeds with curled tails include the Norwegian Buhund, Akita, Finnish Spitz, Pug, and Basenji. That means you do not need to worry about anything if your dog falls within this category.

It would be best to study the positioning of the dog’s curled tail. For example, curling towards the left shows that your pet is significantly alert. It could also mean that the dog is happy or overstimulated.


On the other hand, a dog whose tail is curled downwards shows that it is afraid, anxious, or distressed. This aspect is also common when the tail is tucked in. In other instances, your dog’s tail could be curled towards the head. While this could be natural sometimes, it could also show that the dog is overstimulated and alert.


Various health complications could also force the dog to curl its tail. For example, back trouble, including scoliosis, could cause discomfort in the dog. This condition will result in a curled tail, which helps alleviate pain. In such cases, it would be best to visit a vet immediately.


Pain is yet another significant contributor to curled tails. This curling is in response to the discomfort caused. You could also attribute it to distress and anxiety, especially if accompanied by frequent whines. Usually, visiting a vet will be an excellent solution when the dog shows these signs.

Why Does My Dog Walk With Its Tail on the Side?

Most dogs wag or position their tails strategically in response to given emotions. Yet, it is unnatural for your dog to walk with its tail on the side. Various reasons explain why your dog could be doing this.

Medical causes

A dog is likely to position its tail on the side for various medical reasons. The idea is to help alleviate pain and discomfort in the long run. Back pain is a common cause of discomfort for dogs. This pain will force the dog to raise its tail or position it on the side to help avert extreme pain. However, the dog could also experience considerable difficulty when walking in this case.

Anal sacs

Affected anal sacs could also make the dog significantly uncomfortable. Injuries and infections on these anal sacs expose the dog to significant pain. You’ll witness the dog scooting or even dragging its rear, most likely on the ground. This dog can also bite or lick its tail more than usual. Unless you are ready to take this dog to a medical expert, the pain will force it to keep the tail on one side.


A physical injury to the tail could also cause the dog to be a little uncomfortable. You can ascertain the extent of the injury by inspecting the tail. Usually, an injured dog keeps biting or licking its tail. Deep cuts and unusual angles should worry you. These cuts are a sign of in-depth injuries and overwhelming pain. They could also be a sign that the tail has suffered fractures.

What Could Cause an Injury to the Dog’s Tail?

Various aspects go into explaining tail trauma. There are three main causes of this trauma or injury: vehicular mishaps, family-inflicted, and self-inflicted.

The dog itself causes self-inflicted tail injuries. These injuries vary from bites and scratches to cuts and abrasions. Usually, the bites could come from how the dog licks, bites, or chews its tail for reasons like allergies or fleas. Fights with other dogs could also leave the dog injured.

Human beings cause family-inflicted injuries. For example, children might injure their tail when playing with a dog. In this case, it would be wise to get medical assistance as soon as possible.

On the other hand, vehicular mishaps could injure the dog’s tail. These injuries could extend to the spine or even a fatality, depending on the impact caused by the car.

Common Tail Problems

Your dog is likely to face different tail traumas over time. These issues will range from skin infections and tail sprains to dog bites and wagging-related injuries. Nerve damage is yet another common issue. This problem arises after traumatic events, including car accidents. Unfortunately, some nerve damage could be irreversible. That means the tail could remain in one position forever.

Why Is My Dog in Heat Holder Her Tail to the Side?

Dogs get in the heat in specific seasons. Ideally, this is the time when your bitch is fertile and ready or willing to mate. As such, you’ll expect your dog to accept male company, spending so much time with males out there.

A dog in heat moves its tail relatively stiffly. That means you must be ready to study the motion of your dog’s tail carefully. This way, you do not get mistaken in the long run. This stiff movement is referred to as a flagging tail. Remember, the dog will pace around, moving back and forth during the tail wagging process. This dog can also arch its back, exposing its hinds and vulva to males.

Your female dog is likely to switch its tail to one side during the heat season. This move is aimed at attracting various males who are willing to mate. Besides, it allows for the excretion and scent from the anal sacs to reach the male dogs much more easily. In turn, it can get a suitable male without much struggle.

Most experts suggest that you remain significantly careful during the flagging. That is because the dog could be relatively aggressive at such times.

Signs that your Dog is in Heat

You need to understand the signs of a dog in heat. This way, you’ll not confuse tail flagging with a tail flag, a different phenomenon altogether. Various signs suffice when identifying a dog in heat.

Always start by inspecting the dog’s vulva. A dog in heat comes with a swollen vulva. This vulva will often produce straw-colored discharge. At the same time, the dog will constantly want to lick this area.  

A constant change in tail position should also tell you that the dog is in heat. This position will often expose the vulva to male dogs. That means your dog will also be more receptive to males. It also allows the dog to urinate more comfortably. Note, a dog in heat will want to pee more than often.

However, you must be careful during this inspection process. That is because a dog in heat could be excessively aggressive, nervous, anxious, and agitated.

What to Do If My Dog’s Tail Is Going to the Side

There is no one-dimensional answer to this, thanks to the multiple causes of the issue. The solution will often depend on what has caused the dog’s tail to go sideways.

It would be best to take your dog to a vet if its tail goes to the side for medical reasons. For instance, while a limber tail is not life-threatening, a professional will help address it on time. The vet will help manage the condition, ensuring that your dog is much more comfortable.

You’ll also need to inspect the dog’s tail from time to time. The most appropriate time to do this would be when the dog starts to lick its tail more than usual. This inspection gives you insights into how healthy the tail is. It also allows you to address tail trauma on time. Thankfully, most physical injuries are easy to handle. Feel free to carry out first aid on such injuries, including cuts, abrasions, and scratches.

Sometimes, the dog can position its tail on the side because of how it feels. Emotions determine where the dog will place its tail. For instance, a tail curled towards the head shows that the dog is happy or alert. On the other hand, placing this tail on the left and much lower than usual shows that the dog is nervous or scared of something. As such, you’ll need to react based on what the positioning communicates. Some dogs have naturally curled tails. As such, it would be best to know whether your dog’s breed falls within that category.