The tail of a shih tzu is a remarkable thing. For something seemingly so simple, it has garnered many questions among shih tzu owners about its proper care and appearance. From show dogs to pets around the house, shih tzu tails need the proper care. What follows are some basic information about shih tzu tails, their proper care, and what their shape means.
What Determines the Shape of a Shih Tzu Tail?
For the most part, it is heredity that does the determining. The shape of the tail will be passed down through the generations. This means that a tail with some quirks in the shape may show up in your shih tzu. The size, shape, and color of the fur are traits that are passed down, so you should expect them to be carried on by future generations.
What is the Perfect Shih Tzu Tail?
In other words, what is a shih tzu tail supposed to look like in its natural state? The answer is that for most shih tzus, the tail should set high on the back and curl towards the front. With many shih tzus, there will be a large plume associated with the tail as well. For show dogs, the tail will never touch the back, but hover and bob over it as the shih tzu moves about.
While this may be the perfect shih tzu tail, it is not the only form that it may take depending on the dog itself. It is common for many shih tzus to have tails that lay on the back or flopped to the side. It rarely drags on the ground. Unless there is something wrong with the tail itself, the shape and location are individual to each shih tzu.
Are Curled Tails Common?
That is an interesting question since there is a substantial difference between a tail that is curled and one that is curved. The most common shih tzu tails are curved over the back, usually in an arc where the end of the tail will bob over the back.
A curl indicates a twist in the tail itself which is generally not present in most shih tzus. The tail of a shih tzu should not resemble that of a pug. Also, a tail that is straighter and does not curve as much is not common with shih tzus either. That does not mean something is inherently wrong, it is just that a curled or straight tail is not that common. Unless there is an actual deformity, your vet will probably not look twice at a straight or curled tail.
Should the Tail be Shaved?
This is one of the most asked questions and there is no definitive answer. Just like facial hair on a human, fur on the tail generally does no harm. Shaving it is generally for appearance only and when done properly does not harm to the dog. You should ask an experienced dog groomer to shave the tail as nicking it would cause an injury.
There is a myth that shaving a shih tzu’s tail will cause them to lose their balance. But the truth is that the weight of the fur removed from the tail is so little that the dog will not notice. Therefore, you can shave the tail if you want, but it is not a requirement.
Another common question is what to do if fecal matter commonly gets stuck to the fur that is located right below the tail. The answer is do so to make the area more hygienic. This will prevent you from having to clean the area frequently.
Should I Dock the Tail?
Only if there is something wrong with it that causes pain or interferes with the daily activities of the shih tzu. You should consult with your vet about whether surgical docking is necessary. Keep in mind that while some breeds have docked tails, the shih tzu is not one of them, so this would be unusual.
Is Lack of Movement a Sign of Something Wrong?
If your shih tzu no longer moves his or her tail, then it may indicate something is either wrong with the tail itself or more likely something is bothering the shih tzu. A sudden lack of tail movement might mean the following.
- Anal Gland Problems
- Being Frightened
- Aging or Back Issues
You should observe for a few days to see if they start moving their tail again before contacting the vet. A shih tzu’s tail is an important part of their body, so it may indicate something is wrong when not moving.