What Does A Border Collie Tail Look Like? (Docking & Grooming)

Do you know how a border collie’s tail looks? You might have seen a border collie but couldn’t tell if it was a border collie because there are other breeds of dog that look almost exactly like this dog breed but with a slight difference. 

Moreover, knowing how a border collie tail looks can help you recognize one and also differentiate it from other breeds when you see it.

This article will give you information about what a border collie tail looks like, its length, position, and meaning. This article will discuss the following:

  • What is a border collie?
  • Border Collie tail
  • What is the length of the border collie tail?
  • Does a border collie’s tail need docking?
  • Can border collie tails curl?
  • How border collies wag and communicate with their tail.
  • Problems of border collie tail.
  • Grooming border collie tail.

What is a Border Collie?

Border çollie is a farm herding dog that carries out specific functions. It is a pure breed and one of the most intelligent, energetic, smart, and loveable dogs. It was meant to control and herd sheep in the hilly border country between Scotland and England. 

The border collie is so vigilant and can identify different colors of objects. It has an intense stare, with strong looking eyes which it uses to control and herd sheep. Therefore, making it the most intelligent dog in the world.

Read Also: Are Border Collies Aggressive? Tips To Stop Aggressiveness?

Border Collie Tail

Tails vary from dog to dog, even if it is of the same breed. This makes it so complicated when you don’t know the difference between a dog’s tail.

Border Collies have a fluffy and average long tail which is set low on their body. Their tails are barely upward and stretch out of their backside.

A border collie that is fully bred usually has the shepherd’s lantern, which is a symbolic white tip. It is called a shepherd’s lantern because the shepherds follow its white tip to know their way home after a long day of herding.

A border collie without a white tip on its tail or curls slightly instead of straight means it might be mixed with another breed.

What is the length of the border collies tail?

Border Collies’ tails have an average length of about 12 to 16 inches. However, some border collies have tails ranging from 3.5inches to 16 inches in length.

Does Border Collie’s tail need docking?

Before now, the main reason for tail docking was to avoid injury for working dogs. Although border collies are herding dogs, their tails moderately stay in line with their body and are not easily broken.

If a border collie has a short or docked tail, it might probably be because of some reason. Several dog owners in the pastoral areas dock their dog’s tails to differentiate between wild and trained ones.

Also, if it had an injury on its tail when it was a puppy, it might be docked to prevent more havoc to the dog.

Hardly, when a mother dog bites through the umbilical cord after birth, it might mistakenly bite the tip of the tail off.

Nonetheless, docking a dog’s tail benefits, but it is not advisable to dock border collies’ tails.

Read Also:

Can Border Collies Tail Curl?

Generally, a border collie’s tail does not curl. Most border collies with short hair have a recessive gene that causes their tail to curl. It is assumed to be a weakness in genetics. But most times, owners believe it is a specifically unusual trait they love.

Border collies’ correct tail length usually enlarges to the back but not below. Whenever the dog is relaxed, its tail does not curl, but it comes down normally.

How Border Collies Wag and Communicate With Their Tail.

Border collies communicate with their owners by wagging tails. There are many reasons why border collies wag their tail.

Although dogs wag their tails whenever they are happy, wagging them does not always indicate happiness or excitement. It might be expressing other emotions like fear or being anxious.  

Other body language should be put together to understand their tail wag easily. For example, how is their posture? What are their eyes starting at? What are their ears doing? 

Catching sight of these body languages will help you know the reason behind your border collie’s tail wag.

Some of the things a border collie might be communicating through its tail are;

  • Happiness or excitement: It displays a happy facial expression, wags its tail fastly, and sways its body. Goes in circles roundabout the object that is causing its excitement.
  • Aggression: It barks, with tail up in the air and strict, making direct eye contact with the object or person, causing its aggressiveness.
  • Being anxious or frightened: Places its tail between legs and moves it slightly. It rests ears behind with a tightened body and its eyes looking downward. Could further try to communicate with a submissive position.
  • Interest or Curiosity: Tail wags gently and backward. It might be detecting with a curious and enthusiastic stare.
  • Calmness or Composure: The tail rests in its natural position. It may be walking around casually, sleeping, or resting.
  • Welcoming or Entertaining: Usually, eye contact with a carefree wag. It comes to you, hopping on you and trying to get your attention.

Generally, it is natural and normal for border collies to communicate using their tail. It is unusual to find a border collie that does not wag its tail.

Occasionally, medical problems limit border collies from wagging their tail. It is advisable to visit a vet to handle any health issue your dog may be experiencing in such a case.

However, it might also be a temporary issue caused by stress or environmental changes; it may go back to normal once things have been resolved.

If your border collie suddenly stops wagging its tail, there is something you should put into consideration:

  • Environmental changes: This happens mostly when you move to a new apartment, or if they are new to your home, they might be anxious, and it will take some time for them to adapt to their new environment.

Unfortunately, if your border collie does not wag its tail at all, you should learn to find other body languages that could help you understand what they are trying to communicate to you.

Problems With Border Collies Tail

Dogs’ tails are a unique and essential part of them which they use to express themselves. It can be shocking if they feel hurt or in pain whenever something is wrong with their tail.

Always consult your vet immediately if you notice any problem with your border collie’s tail.

Do you know the problems that can affect your border collie’s tail? Knowing some of the common problems of border collies’ tails can help you tell whether to involve your vet or something you can handle or correct.

Here are some of the problems border collies experience:

1. Chasing or biting its tail:

Mostly, border collies chase their tails just for fun. However, there are some other reasons why border collies chase their tails, and they might sometimes need a vet checkup. Below are some reasons why border collies chase their tail:

Boredom: This is one of the most common reasons border collies chase their tails. Whenever a border collie has nothing to do, it tries to create something to do; border collies are majorly meant to work.

Moreover, being idle makes it feel so dull, and as a result, it chases its tail to keep itself busy.

Fleas: Another reason why a border collie may be chasing its tail is because of fleas. A flea can quickly get into its body if it is not taking prevention treatment, making a border collie very uncomfortable.

Fleas invasion and bites can be very itchy, and it might be chasing its tail while struggling to catch it and bite to reduce the itch.  

2. Limp Tail

This condition mainly affects working dogs, and border collies are not exempted. When a limp occurs in a dog, it cannot move its tail.

Few signs that show a border collie has a limp tail include:

  • Walk lamely, hanging its tail in between legs.
  • Does not wag its tail.
  • Feels uncomfortable when lying down.
  • Moaning or crying.
  • Licking or biting its tail. 
  • Inability to stand up after lying down.

Causes of Limp tail in border collies.

Energetic activity that requires border collies to use their tail can cause limp tails. Some common reasons that cause limp tail include:

  • Energetic exercise
  • Active hunting

These physical activities require a border collie to use its tail excessively. Moreover, some dog sports and activities can also result in this problem.

How can you prevent a limp tail in your border collie?

Having a limp tail does not always imply your dog is sick; the activities that a border collie carries out can also cause it to have a limp tail. The best way to prevent your dog from having a limp tail is to:

  • Reduce its workload.
  • Allow it to rest regularly during or after excessive activity since work is common for border collies.

But if you suspect it to be sick, call the attention of a veterinarian immediately.

Treatment of limp tail in Border Collie

It is very easy to treat a dog with a limp tail, but this doesn’t necessarily imply it should not be given medication.

Giving it anti-inflammatory medications together with enough rest will allow the tail to heal in a few days. However, rest and medication for up to a week might be needed but still, treating a limp tail is simple compared to other tail problems.

3. Medical Conditions 

Whenever you see a change in your border collie behavior, it is an excellent idea to find out if it has any medical issues. It might be chasing or biting its tail because it hurts.

Usually, dogs focus on their tails even though the pain is not on the tail; it might be in the lower back or back legs. It could also be an issue with anal itching or worms.

If it suddenly starts chasing its tail, it is advisable to visit a vet to ensure there is nothing more severe affecting it.

Grooming A Border Collie Tail

Dogs’ tails are prone to collecting residue and sometimes feces and urine because of their anatomical region.

Grooming your border collie tail is very important, and it is an easy thing to do. This is done to ensure your dog’s tail is clean and free from dirt.

Below are ways you can groom your border collie tail:

  • Groom around the base of its tail to ensure that mats don’t accumulate at the tail head.
  • Comb or brush out the hair in its tail to remove dirt at least once weekly.
  • Trim the hair carefully, not too short, so that it can spread evenly on the whole tail.
  • When trimming your border collies’ tails, ensure to make use of good quality tools.


Border collies are great pets and working dogs because they got a drive and focused intelligence that is unpaired. They are searching, and rescue dogs used to herd sheep.

Border collies’ tails are used as a tool in herding. They use their tail to enable them to keep their balance when making turns while herding sheep.

The white tip of the border collie tail is used as a banner to help their owners see their location easily. 

Common problems of border collie tail are the limp tail, chasing or biting its tail. A dog chasing or biting its tail might be a result of boredom, being idle, and flea infestation. Limp tail mainly occurs when a border collie carries out active hunting and energetic activity. 

It is vital to groom a dog’s tail to keep it neat and avoid skin infections associated with dirt. Always trim, wash, and brush its tail when needed.

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