5 Reasons Dogs Keep their Tails Between their Legs and Should You Be Concerned?

A dog’s tail serves several purposes. The way a dog walks reveals a lot about its health and allows you to learn more about your pet, such as how he feels about certain things.

Dog with tail tucked between legs.

When a dog is nervous or scared, he tucks his tail tightly between his legs. It can also help with balance, act as a fragrance propagator, and aid communication. 

Because each breed is unique, there will be differences in tail manifestation. In most cases, the reason is likely not serious, but there are times when a vet visit may be necessary. 

Let’s look at five reasons why your dog could be keeping its tail between its legs.


Does My Dog’s Tail Between His Legs Mean He is Sick?

1: Tail Body Language

Dogs have unique ways of carrying their tails and expressing themselves. 

When a dog’s tail is tucked under, it means the dog is probably scared. When a dog’s tail is not tucked it most likely means the dog is at ease and relaxed. 

Dogs produce pendulum swings with their tails when they are happy and in good spirits. Give your dog some space and try to calm him down if you notice his tail is stiff. 

This indicates that the dog is in a state of stress. A dog is excited when he wags his tail. Many studies have been conducted to link tail movement to emotions.

2: Tucked Tail

The dog is a highly intelligent animal that, like people, goes through a variety of emotions. They adore expressing themselves through diverse body movements. 

They, too, become nervous and afraid, tucking their tails, losing eye contact, and panting as a result. To deal with these negative emotions, they use a range of coping mechanisms. 

They could, for instance, start to yawn or lick their lips. When dogs are uneasy, nervous, terrified, or submissive about something, they tuck their tails. 

Several studies have linked tail tucking to a primitive behavior developed by dogs to protect their tails from injury when threatened. 

In this position, the dog also appears smaller and less frightening. In such cases, you must make your dog more comfortable around you.

3: Tail Injury and Constipation

A dog’s tail comprises numerous muscles and nerves that allow it to move freely and into various positions. In the development of an injury or an accident, these muscles may be damaged.

The tail may become swollen, and the dog may lick or chew it obsessively to relieve the inflammation caused by the injury. 

The tail can become limp, paralyzed, and dangle loosely. Other factors such as nerve damage, gland issues, a fracture, or prostate problems can also be blamed. 

If this phase lasts for an extended period or if your dog remains in constant pain, medical attention is required. Several systemic factors can influence how a dog carries its tail. 

Dogs suffering from irregular bowel movements or constipation, for example, will frequently tuck their tail at a low or tucked angle. This coud be due to a deficiency of fiber in their diet.

4: Other Reasons For Tail Tucking

When a dog tucks his tail, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he is feeling threatened, insecure or nervous about something. 

They can tuck their tail because of different reasons that aren’t always associated with injury or sickness. For example, when you offer them food, dogs can tuck their tail while eating. 

They use this stance to concentrate and focus on the food. They don’t usually make a conscious effort to get their tail in the proper position because it’s more of a natural stance and instinct. 

When they are focused on anything, they tuck them in. The tucked tail can also be seen when they are engaged in activities that they enjoy, like digging or playing with their toys and the like. 

Sometimes dogs feel conscious or threatened while eating food. Such behaviors are needed to be monitored, as dogs may begin to guard their food and stop eating.

5: Tail Tucked Down For Days

As stated above, a dog tucking his tail can be caused by several behavioral factors. Such issues can be addressed by soothing, reassuring, or putting your dog at ease.

If the problem persists after all of this, you may need to seek medical help to figure out the underlying cause. 

The most common cause of a tail hanging loosely is damage to the muscle, which is essential for maintaining shape. This condition is known as limber tail syndrome

A limber tail is especially common in large breed dogs. Dogs who enjoy swimming, such as Retrievers and Setters, are examples. 

Sprained Tail, Swimmers Tail, and Frozen Tail are other names for Limber Tail. It is sometimes caused by overexertion or strain of the tail muscles. 

However, the exact cause is still unknown. Cold weather and confined spaces increase the chances of developing this syndrome.


Emotions affect all living species in different ways, and they express themselves in various ways. As a result, dogs use body language to communicate. 

Different tail movements represent the dog’s moods. While dogs occasionally put their tails between their legs when sick, this is not always the case. 

It can happen for various reasons, including while attempting to concentrate on something or engaging in a favorite activity.

Written by Brian Rucker

Brian Rucker has been a dog lover since childhood. He has had his Lab Mix with Hound for over 10+ years now! They enjoy playing outdoors together. Brian loves sharing his knowledge about all things dog on this website. Read more of Brian's articles.