How to Groom a Dog's Tail

Easy
5 - 15 Minutes
1 Week

Introduction

Believe it or not, grooming a dog's tail seems to be a controversial subject. Who knew?!  

Many dog owners and groomers do very little to a dog's tail in the way of grooming, besides brushing it out, even when the dog is getting a full clip everywhere else!  While clipping and trimming the tail as part of a groom seems to be a matter of personal preference for most pet owners, depending on your dog's breed there are strict guidelines for show rings regarding how and whether or not tails should or should not be trimmed. 

For most pet owners, however, the main concern is whether or not their dog's tail is clean and mat-free. Tails, like the rest of your dog's body, can form mats, and in fact can be even more prone to collecting debris and sometimes urine and feces, due to their anatomical location. Washing, brushing and trimming your dog's tail may be necessary to keep it clean. Also, most groomers, at the very least, will groom around the base of a dog's tail, to ensure that mats don't for at the tail head and that hair hanging down from the base does not get covered in feces. Depending on your personal preference, your dog's breed, and your overall clipping and grooming strategy, you will need to determine what is the best way to groom your dog's tail so that he looks great from tip to tail.

Dog's Perspective

Your dog’s tail is part of his spine!  As such, your dog may be  a little reticent about you handling and manipulating his tail, so care should be taken to make this comfortable for your dog. Tails are also prone to injuries; they get stepped on and hit things. When grooming your dog’s tail, be sure to check it for injury before grooming. You don't want to pull hair on a delicate spot and hurt your dog. You may need to get your dog used to having his tail handled if he is not too crazy about this at first, to ease him into the idea of having his tail brushed and trimmed.

The Natural Tail Method

Effective
0 Votes
Spray
Scissors
Pin Brush
Comb
Step
1
Use detangler
Use detangler spray, especially if your dog has a dense bushy tail, and separate tangles with your fingers.
Step
2
Trim out knots
Trim out any stubborn knots or mats with scissors. Hold scissors parallel to your dog's body, pointing away from your dog towards the tip of the tail, not at his behind. Move and manipulate your dog to make this possible. Have someone restrain your dog if necessary so your dog does not get nicked. Use a comb between your dog's skin and the scissors to protect him.
Step
3
Brush tail
Brush tail with a pin brush. Hold tail gently and securely, do not pull hairs.
Step
4
Comb tail
Comb tail with a wide tooth comb, gently. Then use a finer tooth comb to finish.
Step
5
Trim base of tail
Trim the base of the tail close to the anus with caution, to avoid tail hair becoming contaminated with body waste. Blend into the longer hair of the tail if desired, by cutting hair at an angle between the short area and the long tail hairs.
Recommend grooming method?

The Trimmed Tail Method

Effective
0 Votes
Scissors
Pin Brush
Comb
Clipper
Step
1
Brush tail
Brush and comb out your dog's tail so there are no mats.
Step
2
Trim end
Grip the end of the tail and slide your hand down to cover the end of the tailbone. Put your thumb and index finger just past the tip, trim excess hair at end of the tail so that it is about ½ to ¾ of an inch. Your hand protects the tailbone, and using your fingers as a guide prevents cutting tip too short.
Step
3
Trim backside and base
Trim hair down short around the base of the tail near the anus. Use scissors carefully or an electric trimmer body blade to keep the tail from getting feces on it.
Step
4
Thin tail hair
If your dog's tail is particularly thick, use thinning scissors to thin it out.
Step
5
Shape tail
Trim and shape tail as desired, following the natural curve of the tail and to the desired length. You will usually need to work on both sides to ensure that the tail is symmetrical. Blend shorter parts near the tail base into the longer hairs further down the tail by trimming at an angle with scissors or electric trimmers.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • Look for injuries on the tail before grooming. Tails are prone to injury and are part of your dog's spine.
  • Your dog uses his tail to communicate by wagging, not all dogs like having their tail manipulated. Work with your dog until he feels comfortable having his tail handled.
  • When working with clippers to cut tail base and anal area short, ensure they are not overheated. Use coolant.
  • Always point scissors away from your dog and hold them parallel to the skin.
  • Use a comb or your fingers between your dog and scissors if possible, to protect your dog's skin.
  • Be careful your dog does not move while working on his tail, avoid pulling hair to avoid hurting your dog.
  • Brush and comb tail before trimming and remove mats.

Conclusion

Whether you have a dog with a curly tail, or straight, long or short, your dog's tail needs to be groomed just like the rest of his body. Even more so, as it needs to be regularly examined for injury and to prevent it from being contaminated by waste. Whether you opt to trim or just brush your dog's tail, be sure to work gently. Your dog's tail is part of his spinal cord and you will want to take all precautions to avoid injury to this sensitive and important structure. Don't let your dog's tail be an afterthought. Make a plan to keep your dog’s tail clean and neat that works for you and your dog.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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