If you are a dog owner, you may not pay too much attention to your dog’s tail. However, your dog’s tail can tell you a lot about your dog’s origins. There are many different tails, depending on where the breed originates from and what they were bred to do. Today we will focus on sickle tail dog breeds. These are the dogs with tails that curl up and over their backs. You will find many of these breeds are from cold climates, as these tails help keep them warm in this cold weather.
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What is a Sickle Tail?
A sickle tail is a type of curly tail found in dogs. The sickle tail shape is similar to other curly tails in that it points up and over the back of the dog. However, unlike other curly tails, sickle-tailed dogs are less drastically curly. For example, a corkscrew tail has a more defined and tight curl. However, the curl in a sickle tail dog is less defined.
Additionally, because the curl is less tight in sickle tails, they are more flexible than other curly tails. Therefore, these dogs can easily move their tail and even use them to their advantage at times. For example, you may notice your sickle tail dog covers its face with its tail while sleeping. This can be helpful in cold climates.
Will a Sickle Tail Always Stand the Same Way?
If your dog has a sickle tail, you may notice it can straighten and point at times. This is not possible in dogs with corkscrew tails because they are so rigid. However, sickle tail dogs can change the shape of their tail easily because of the flexibility of this tail type. The direction your dog’s tail is pointing can relate to the emotions your dog is feeling.
A dog who is feeling relaxed will let its tail sit naturally. In this case, the tail will naturally sit loosely curled along the back. If your dog is on high alert, the tail will actually curl more tightly on the back. If your dog feels scared or unwell, its tail will likely straighten out and point down, sometimes sitting between its legs. Occasionally you may even notice that your dog’s tail rapidly changes in curliness as it wags.
Why Do Dogs Have Sickle Tails?
As you will notice, with the different breeds on our list, many of these dogs have origins that tie back to cold climates. This extreme climate may play a role in the shape of your dog’s tail. Dogs who come from cold temperatures had to adapt to the cold the best way possible. Therefore, their tails were used as a shield against the cold. You may even see this learned behavior in your own dog. Although your domesticated dog probably has plenty of warmth already, you may notice it uses its tail to shield its face while sleeping. This is why sickle tails are more flexible than other curly tails.
Sickle Tail Dog Breeds
Now that you know what a sickle tail is and why they have developed, it is time to look at some of the most common sickle tail dog breeds. Purebred versions of these dogs will have sickle tails. However, if you mix these breeds with other breeds that do not have sickle tails, you will get a combination of the two types of tails. Just remember, regardless of what your dog’s tail looks like, it will still wag the same!
As their name suggests, beautiful Siberian Huskies were first bred in Siberia. At this time, these dogs were used to pull sleds through large expanses of snow. It is also believed that these dogs developed the sickle tail to prevent snow from gathering in their tail as they pulled these sleds.
Although these dogs are companions now, their long history of living in frozen climates has made them very cold-tolerant. In addition to the tail preventing snow buildup, the sickle tail is also responsible for helping maintain a comfortable body temperature while they sleep. They do this by wrapping the tail around themselves.
Luckily, Siberian Huskies can adapt well to different temperatures. So, even though these dogs have origins tied to the snow, they can still tolerate warm climates well. The flexibility of sickle tails means that your dog can simply choose not to curl its tail around itself while sleeping, allowing it to remain cool when needed.
Alaskan Malamutes are very similar to Siberian Huskies in appearance and origin. These dogs were bred to be workers in Alaska. Their duties included pulling sleds full of people or other cargo. Just like Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes developed sickle tails to keep the snow away while sledding. Additionally, their tails were another way to keep them warm in the Arctic weather they lived in.
Although highly similar to Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes are significantly larger. Weighing in at 85lbs Alaskan Malamutes are huge in comparison to the 60lb Siberian Husky. Because of the Alaskan Malamute’s working background and large size, they are recommended for active families who have plenty of time, energy, and space to exercise their Malamute regularly.
Shiba Inus are a unique breed on our list because some have sickle tails while others do not. Many Shiba Inus have a tightly curled tail. However, others have sickle tails that are less curly. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), both tail types are normal in Shiba Inus, but the curlier option is preferred. However, there is nothing wrong with your Shiba if it has a sickle tail.
Shiba Inus originate from the mountainous regions of Japan. These mountains are cold and snowy areas, so Shibas had to develop ways to keep warm. This includes their sickle tail that they can wrap around their body. In addition to keeping them warm, Shiba Inu tails are also said to warn other animals away from their prey when hunting. Curling the tail up over the body helps the dog look larger, making it more menacing to other animals competing for food.
Another breed known for its sickle tail is the Akita. These dogs are another breed that developed a sickle tail to protect from the cold. Similar to the Shiba Inu, Akitas were initially found in the cold, mountainous regions of Japan. However, unlike the Shiba Inus, these dogs are huge in stature.
Akitas are not just known for their tail shape but also the fur found on their tails. Akita’s tails are plumed, meaning they have long, fluffy hair. This dense coat also adds to their warmth when they are out in the cold.
Although Chow Chows are most commonly known for their lion-like appearance, they have one physical trait that sets them apart from these ferocious animals: their tail! Chow Chows have sickle-shaped tails that sit curled on their backs. Just like the rest of their bodies, Chow Chow’s tails are incredibly fluffy.
Like the Shiba Inu and Akita, the Chow Chow also originates from a mountainous region. However, while those breeds come from Japan, the Chow Chow originated in China. Chow Chows are hard-working dogs who were bred to hunt, herd, and guard.
In addition to their beautiful tails, Chow Chows have other distinct features such as their lion’s mane hair, deep-set eyes, and blue tongues.
American Eskimo Dog
Despite what their name suggests, the American Eskimo Dog originates from Germany, not America. These dogs have sickle tails to protect them from the cold German winters. However, unlike many of the dogs on our list, these dogs were bred to be companions.
These dogs are known for being extremely smart and loyal to their families. American Eskimo Dogs also come in three different sizes: toy, miniature, and standard. So, regardless of the size of dog you are looking for, you can find an American Eskimo Dog for you! Regardless of their size, these dogs will all have beautiful and functional sickle tails.
Lastly, we have come to the smallest dog on our list: the Chihuahua. Chihuahuas are a bit of an anomaly as they are the only dog on this list that does not come from a cold area of the world. These dogs originated from Mexico and were initially bred for companionship and religious reasons.
It is unknown why the Chihuahua has a sickle tail, as it was not functional for keeping the dog warm. However, it is functional in modern days now that the breed has spread across all areas of the world, including cold temperatures. Therefore, your Chihuahua can keep itself warm regardless of whether it gets a bit chilly out or not.
Conclusion for Sickle Tail Dog Breeds
As you can see, there are many sickle tail dog breeds. Most of these breeds come from cold areas of the world and use their tails to keep themselves warm. These tails are also very flexible, so you can use them as a good indicator of how your dog is feeling.
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Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
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