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I know it sounds funny, but since yesterday morning Anton's tail has been hanging down. We had a run and a swim on the beach, and we had quite some exercise and fun. Then we had an not so nice encounter with a big aggressive Akita who pinned Anton down without any reason.


Anyway, I coulnd't detect anything wrong with him, so we tried to forget this incidence and continued our morning. However, when we came home, i noticed that his tail was hangingn down, actually as if he was unhappy about something (he does this when he gets his eardrops). Or maybe his canine ego has been hurt :))


His tail perked up again when we went to another beach this morning (not where the wild Akita is). We had a good hour swim and run and he was fine - until we went home. Now, his tail is limp again. So I can't imagine it's anything physical. Any suggesttions what could be wrong with him?

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Hi Ilona

I suspect Anton is suffering from 'dead tail' - don't worry, the tail should recover again in a few days...

Have a look here: http://www.dockdogs.com/index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&...

Two weeks ago I had a call from the owner of a dog I bred, she feared her dog had broken his tail and thought they needed an emergency apointment on a sunday at the vets. The dog did not seem in pain, though, so she was uncertain what to do. It turned out this was the same thing: within 3 days the tail was back to normal.


Bang on the button Susan - cold tail/dead tail good advice
It sounds like he has damaged his tail or spine somehow but I would have expected it to be hanging down all the time if he had.It may just be a fear thing and an association of the memory of that fear causing the droop when he gets back home.If it continues I think you should get him checked over by a vet.

I've had one with this and I agree with Susan it sounds like what I know as ''cold water tail'' My boy was back to normal in 4 days.


Dawn R.

I call it cold tail   when a dog etc  is bathed or been swimming the tail gets too cold   you can give anti inflammatory tabs for this as it is the most sensitive part of a dogs body.  So they can feel some pain from it,

Nothing to worry about  just keep the dog  warm until it is better

I also agree with the others...two of my English Setters suffered with dead tail if they got wet and cold whilst playing outside, I would always dry them off when they came in but sometimes the damage is already done.


There are varying degrees of it, some dogs recover as soon as they warm up but others need pain killers from the vets...both my boys had to go on Rimadyl as they would get it bad, I had to be very particular with them when I bathed them and make sure I dried them off thoroughly otherwise I risked it happening again.  Apparently it can be one of the worst pains ever, and I know my boys would cry out if they had it and I touched their tails, or if one of the others accidently went near it.


I hope your lad will be ok.

..but was the 'dead ' tail to do with the sea or with the Akita who pinned Anton down?

I've come across this problem maybe 4-5 times, once in my own dog, bathed ready for the show and the next days there was that tail hanging limp... no winning that day;o))

In all other occasions either the dog was bathed, went swimming or most recent: had been out for a long time playing in the snow. I make very sure when bathing a dog that I dry them really well around the tail.

A local vet knew nothing about this 'wet dog = dead tail' and was convinced the dog had broken his tail after swimming in the local river. He was surprised when nothing showed up on x-rays.

I have however also had a dog who got run into from behind in rough play, yelped, and the tail hung limp with no movement. This was clearly a different matter and needed a trip to the vet as the dog was in pain. Fortunately no serious damage was done. 

I am interested to know if Anton had been swimming or not, cause knowing where Anton lives and they are experiencing 40 degree heat at the moment, it's hard to think it was "cold tail". 


I know of a male Irish Setter who experienced this "dead tail" condition a few years ago.  People knew of the condition and said it would right itself in a few days, but no-one really understood it. 

With this conversation, I was trying to work out how the coldness could be connected with the condition.  As you probably know, we don't get the cold extreme in my area. so I think the excessive wagging might also be a cause of his as he had a bitch at home in season and so was a very excitable boy and perhaps that plus he may have had a bath prior to the show and so the two episodes combined caused the dead tail?


Thanks for posting this Ilona as it has been an interesting topic.  I hope Anton's tail is recovering well.


Ho Ilona,

It can be cold water tail, in which case it will disappear within 3-4 days or, hopefully, sooner.  If it isn't then it could be broken (worse case scenario) or dislocated.   Though, if he can get it up it is not likely to be broken. Both would need veterinary intervention.  The other possibility, again given the Akita experience, is that it could be bruised.  If it doesn't completely disappear within the alloted time then it might just be advisable to get the boy checked over.   In the meantime, keep pinching the end of the tail.  If he feels that then he is still getting blood supply to the tip, which is important. 

I have had experience of all the above.  Whatever your vet might tell you, as long as the blood supply is getting to the end, you can save a broken tail.  I did it with a syringe casing over the broken bit taped either side and padded with cotton wool.  Good luck and fingers crossed for you.


Hi Eva, that's great advice re the broken tail and checking blood supply.  I haven't had any of my dogs experience a problem with their tail, but will keep this in mind.  cheers

Well I don't know about this case, but I've had several instances of 'dead tail' or 'drop tail' in several of my boys over the years, but never the girls...draw your own conclusions here...also never when they've been in the lake/river/sea, but after showering (outside) in warm water for a show. Once I knew what it was, I've always protected the vulnerable area under the tail, as much as possible when showering them off, and got them indoors and dried them off thoroughly, and haven't had a problem for a long time now (all fingers crossed and touching wood!!) It usually lasts a couple of days or so, and I've noticed they can still wag and hold tail out when really happy, but it drops pretty quickly again after the effort.

Hope Anton is better soon.




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