Holding His Tail Down in Dogs

Written By hannah hollinger
Published: 07/08/2017Updated: 09/17/2021
Veterinary reviewed by Michele K.
Why is my dog holding his tail down?

What is Holding His Tail Down?

Tails are a big way in which dogs communicate with humans. Because they can’t use words, dogs use their tails to tell us when they are happy, sad, scared, and even injured. When determining how your dog is feeling, pay attention to the height of his tail. If it is held high then the dog is excited and alert, while a tail tucked close to the body might show fear and anxiety. It is important to remember that all dogs have different tail height depending on their breed. If your dog has a very loose and flaccid tail, there may be a few reasons why. 

  • Overexertion
  • Exposure to cold weather or water
  • Prolonged confinement 
  • Muscle injury
  • Medical issues

All of these issues can be resolved over time, but it is best to visit your vet in order to diagnose exactly what is causing your dog’s limp tail.

Why Holding His Tail Down Occurs in Dogs

There are many reasons that can cause a dog's tail to be limp, or held down.  Some causes may be related to:


If you take your dog for a long walk or jog after being inactive over an extended period of time, your dog may show signs of a muscle injury. The tail may be flaccid and loose without the ability to wag. These signss are often accompanied with swelling at the base of the tail, and can be quite painful.  

Exposure to Cold Weather or Water

If your dog is sensitive to temperatures, being exposed to cold weather or even cold water can trigger a limpness to the tail. Some dogs are much more likely to have this occur, such as Retrievers who seem particularly prone to showing signs. 

Prolonged Confinement 

Keeping your dog in a crate that is too small for him over a long period of time may cause tail injuries This is due to the tail being in one position much too long and is similar to the way our limbs can fall asleep after being in one position for an extended amount of time. 

Muscle Injury

 In some cases, tail injuries can be caused by a sprain. A sprain is categorized as an injury to a joint and the area surrounding it. An acute inflammation may occur due to irritation of the muscle and the tail goes limp. After a few days, the tail may slowly recover to the point of being normal once again. 

Medical Issues

Conditions such as prostate trouble, anal gland inflammation and osteoarthritis may cause your pet to hold his tail down to counteract pain and discomfort. Any dog can be affected by a limp tail, although dogs with longer tails tend to be affected more often.  

What to do if your Dog is Holding His Tail Down

If your dog has a limp tail , it is always advised to seek veterinary counsel any time a pet may seem injured or unwell. A few home treatments you can discuss with your veterinarian might be: 

  • Use of a warm pack at the base of the tail to ease any pain
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs prescribed by your veterinarian
  • Plenty of rest

When in doubt it is always best to speak with a veterinarian about any concerns you may have while you monitor the recovery period. If your dog continues to show tail discomfort, your veterinary caregiver may decide x-ray imaging is required for further evaluation.

Prevention of Holding His Tail Down

Considering that one of the more common reasons that dogs experience limp tail is overexertion, it is important to ease your dog into any exercise after a period of low activity. In doing so, you will ensure that your dog has a chance to get back into shape before pushing him too hard. 

Always provide the right size crate for your dog and do not keep him crated for long periods of time without a break. This will give your dog the chance to stretch his limbs and tail. Finally, pay attention to your breed of dog and the condition that his tail is usually in. Some dogs are more susceptible to tail injuries than others, so if you notice anything concerning, be sure to speak with your veterinarian about it.

Some causes of this issue can be expensive to treat. To avoid high vet care expenses, secure pet health insurance today. The sooner you insure your pet, the more protection you’ll have from unexpected vet costs.

Cost of Holding His Tail Down

Treatment cost will vary depending on the cause of your dog’s limp tail.  Once your veterinarian finds the cause of the problem, it may be as simple as medication that is needed, or there may be more therapy needed.  

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Holding His Tail Down Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals


Border Collie Dalmatian mix



8 months


13 found this helpful


13 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Tail Down And Lathargic
I am not sure if I should go to the vet he is very tired for a few days now and keeping his tail down :( usually very high energy

Sept. 28, 2020

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

13 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If he seems lethargic or tired, and isn't wagging his tail normally, I think that something is probably going on with him, and having him seen by your veterinarian would be a good idea. They will be able to examine him and see what might be going on, and get treatment for him if needed. I hope that all goes well for him!

Oct. 5, 2020

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Toy Poodle



Eight Years


0 found this helpful


0 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
My dog hasn’t ate or drank water in about two days. She keeps her tail tucked in most of the time and she walks slow. Her belly feels normal but when I touch a certain area on her sides she grunts and hardens her abdomen. She isn’t drooling or vomiting, and she has peed and pooped (greenish-yellowish). What could be wrong with her?

Sept. 24, 2020

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is okay. It sounds like she may have a problem with her back or her abdomen. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment that might be needed.

Oct. 24, 2020

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