How to Brush a Dog's Tail

5 - 10 Minutes
1 Weeks


Fluffy the Shih Tzu’s tail is not looking very fluffy. She was out with her owner visiting a farm and ended up romping through the bush and the pasture, in the rain. She dried off on the way home, but now she looks pretty scraggly and her tail, especially, is a tangled mess full of vegetation, weeds, burrs and her owner does not even know what! 

Fluffy’s owner needs to brush her and her tangled tail before company comes over tonite. She does not even have time to bathe her, but where does she start? Her groomer normally handles this.  Fluffy’s owner does not want to hurt Fluffy by pulling on her tail. It is several weeks before Fluffy's next appointment with a groomer, her tail will be a matted mess if it is not brushed out. 

Many owners are not familiar with how to brush out their dogs tail and are leery of hurting their dog by handing his or her tail, which is part of the dog’s spine. Done carefully, there are several options for brushing your dog's tail so that it looks great and protects your dog's delicate tail area.

Dog's Perspective

Most dogs are not super crazy about having their tails touched or handled--they definitely don't want the hair on their tail pulled! Dogs may be sensitive, because tails often get injured by being slammed in doors, or stepped on, so they are nervous of having them handled. Also, the tail is part of your dog's spine and a sensitive body part they will try to protect. Working to avoid pulling tail hair and making your dog comfortable with having their tail brushed will be necessary to get your dog’s full cooperation in the tail bruising procedure.

Caution & Considerations

  • Remember, your dog's tail is part of his spine and is very sensitive. Protect it from being pulled by supporting the tailbone.
  • Work slowly and gently with knotted tails to avoid pulling. Support the tailbone and hold hair to avoid pulling as much as possible.
  • If your dog is sensitive about having his tail worked with, provide treats and get someone to hold him or distract him during the process.
  • Use a slicker or pin brush in good shape with no missing or broken tines that could snag tail hair and hurt your dog.


Brushing your dog's tail does not have to be a difficult chore. Using the right tools, working methodically from base to tip, and holding and supporting the tail and tail hair as much as possible to avoid pulling, will make it more comfortable for your dog. Use products that will lubricate hair to help loosen snarls and use your fingers as much as possible to remove debris and knots, as your fingers can feel knots and avoid undue pressure better than a grooming tool like a brush or comb can. Keeping your dog's tail regularly brushed will keep it looking great and avoid mats forming, which can accumulate debris and feces, presenting an unsightly, and sometimes smelly, mess!

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

Book me a walkiee?
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd