A tail can tell us so much about our dog, they are a very beautiful and important trait on our lively Cavapoos. But what is it about the tail that makes it so special? How do we know if our Cavapoo has a normal tail, or if something may be off or different? Should a Cavapoo tail be docked? What is the best way to groom and style your dog’s tail? How do you know if they have limber tail (swimmers tail) and what to do about it!
I was curious about this too so I took some time to Paws and Learn so I could find all the answers to every question you could have about your Cavapoos tail. I’ve done my research and talked to a lot of Cavapoo owners and vets so you can have all the answers in one place.
Do Cavapoos have tails, and what should they look like?
Cavapoos naturally have long fluffy tails, that when relaxed usually point straight out behind them. Because Cavapoos are mixed between a Poodle and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, the look of Cavapoo tails can vary depending on which breed it favors.
Some Cavapoos will have tails that curl nicely over their backs, others have tails that extend behind similar to a Cavalier Spaniel. A few Cavapoos have tails that stand straight up. If your Cavapoo has a short stub tail then it probably has been docked.
How long are Cavapoo tails?
Cavapoos’ natural tails are on average are 8 to 10 inches long however it is not uncommon for Cavapoos to have tails ranging from 3.5 inches all the way to 16 inches long. Cavapoos who have docked tails will have tails no longer than 4 inches.
Do Cavapoo tails curl?
Normally Cavapoo tails don’t curl. A curly tail may be considered a flaw in genetics, but as there are no strict standards for how a tail should look. A curly tail should not be cause for concern. Normally both Poodles and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have an erect tail held behind the dog’s hocks not curled at all.
For Poodles, the AKC standard states that the tip of the tail, when erect, should be at the same height as the top of the dog’s head. Around, 1/4 to 1/3 of the end of the tail is docked. Depending on the size of the poodle (mini, toy, or standard) the tail length will be different.
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For a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Ideally, the tail is carried horizontally and is in constant motion while the dog is in action. Under excitement, the dog may carry his tail somewhat higher, but not cocked up.
It stands to reason that your Cavapoos tail will look similar to the two breeds it comes from.
Do Cavapoos get their tails docked?
As a general rule Cavapoos should not get their tails docked, however about 25% of owners say their puppy came with a docked tail. Historically tail docking was done to prevent injury for working dogs. Cockapoos are bred as companion dogs and so there is no reason for them to have their tails docked.
Unfortunately, a breeder who is following the AKC standards for poodles and Cavalier Spaniels will dock their Cavapoos litters tails.
There is a lot of controversy around docking tails but as far as Cavapoos are concerned there is really no reason to have any Cavapoo puppies get their tails docked as Cavapoo are not traditionally recognized by AKC, and will have no conforming appearance standards to uphold. Cavapoo can join AKC Canine Partners Program but are not required to conform to a certain appearance to join.
Why do they cut (dock) Cavapoo tails?
Docking is a tradition that dates back to Roman times when they would dock a dog’s tail because they believed it prevented rabies. In the United stated the practice of docking tails for cosmetic reasons began in the 1950s. This was done to conform to the breed standards and be accepted into the AKC.
The parent breeds (Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Poodles) tails were traditionally docked to prevent injuries while herding livestock. Cavapoos’ tails are docked for cosmetic purposes and often because breeders are used to seeing docked tails on the parent breeds of this mix.
Fun Fact: In the 18th century there was a tax imposed on all dogs unless they were working dogs. So naturally, people decided to cut all ‘working dogs’ tails off to tell them apart from non-working dogs. And well, that led to owners cutting off their non-working dogs’ tails just to avoid getting taxed.
Traditionally Spaniels work as hunting dogs and Poodles as retrievers working out in the underbrush and around other animals provided a measure of danger of getting their tail caught on something, stepped on, or just injured in general.
Cavapoos also have a naturally long fluffy tail and if not taken care of and brushed routinely they can get mats in their tails very easily which can cause pain or other problems such as an increased risk of fleas and ticks.
Why do breeders dock Cavapoo tails?
Simply put, breeders will dock Cavapoo tails if they like the look of a docked tail, or if they are just used to docking tails because that is what is standard for the parent breeds.
Some breeders think that they may be able to charge more for a puppy with a docked tail since following the AKC standards (even if it’s just for the parent breed) is sort of a status symbol and may also represent that the breeder is serious and does genetic and health testing on their dogs as well.
Some buyers may prefer to buy a puppy that has a docked tail. It makes proper care and maintenance of the tail much easier.
Note: Most of the owners I talked to say they prefer their dog have a long natural tail. The ones that do have Cavapoos with docked tails say that their pup’s tail was docked before they brought their pup home or before they found their dog.
The process of docking a Cavapoo tail (when and how)
Cavapoo tails are most often docked between 2-5 days old. There are 2 ways that the docking may be done. One is to make a surgical cut with special shears about 1 in below the base of the tail, the other is to band the tail in the same place and allow the remaining part to either be reabsorbed or to drop off on its own.
Either way, the docking should always be performed by a licensed vet in order to ensure that there are no complications such as infection or nerve damage.
Docking is done on puppies at such a young age because the cartilage is soft and the bones have not yet developed.
Dogs who are older than 8 weeks will have vertebrae in their tails that will need to be carefully cut around. Dogs this age and older will need to have anesthesia in order to avoid the sharp pain of the procedure.
What do docked tails look like on a Cavapoo
Docked tails can be short and stubby with only an inch or two or they can be a bit longer about 4 inches. Depending on the cut of the dog sometimes the docked tail blends and makes it look as though they have no tail at all.
Cavapoo tail styles and grooming
There are a lot of fun and stylish cuts to choose from for your Cavapoo tail grooming. Depending on how your Cavapoo tail sits and how much grooming you want to do on a weekly basis can help you determine which style or cut you would like. You may also want to think about the kinds of activities you do with your dog to help you decide which cut to do.
Pom tail or lion style
How to achieve the look: Two–thirds of the tail, starting at the base, is trimmed closely, with a long plume of hair left at the end. If you arch the tail over the dog’s back, the spot where the tail begins to bend is approximately where the plume should begin.
Good for: A more traditional Poodle type look. Owners I talked to also said that they prefer this style for easy grooming as there is less hair at the end of the tail to get tangled and less of a chance for the hair to get stepped on or stuck in something.
How to achieve the look: This is a fun look that is named as such because it looks like the outline of a flag. The base of the tail and around the anus is cut short for the first 2-3 inches then the rest of the tail is trimmed into a rectangle shape.
Good for: Owners who like a nice neat look but still enjoy the beautiful natural look as well. This style needs to be brushed out at least once a week to keep mats from forming.
How to achieve the look: This look is mostly left natural except that it is trimmed up a little around the anus and trimmed just enough to straighten up the edges, but not in a set rectangle shape like the flag style.
Good for: Owners that like a natural look but prefer to have it trimmed up just a bit to look more neat and tidy. This look needs to be brushed 2-3 times a week.
Long and fluffy (all natural)
How to achieve the look: Do nothing as far as trimming or cutting goes. This look is meant to be all-natural showcasing the original beauty of your gorgeous doodle. You will need to spend some extra time brushing and keeping this tail mat and tangle-free.
Good for: Owners who love the all-natural look and long billowy tail of their Cavapoo. It’s great for owners who don’t want to take their dogs to the groomers as often but requires at least 2-3 times a week of brushing if not daily in order to keep it free from mats and bugs.
How to achieve the look: Neat and trimmed short in the same style as the rest of the body the hair can be anywhere from 2-4 inches long and is the same length through the entire tail.
Good for: Owners who are very active and don’t want the hair to get caught or pulled on anything. Also good for owners who don’t want to spend as much time brushing the tail out multiple times a week. It will still require brushing about once a week but should be quick and easy.
How to groom a Cavapoo tail
Depending on the cut you choose for your Cavapoo will determine how you cut it, but for a lot of owners part of the charm of having this beautiful breed is the gorgeous plume flowing from their rear end. This does require daily or at the least bi-weekly brushing.
If you plan on trimming or grooming your Cavapoo hair yourself then it’s very important to have good high-quality tools to use. This scissor kit is a great place to start and can help you get the high-quality look you are going for.
Here is a great video overview on trimming a Cavapoo tail.
Cockapoo tail wagging and communication
Cavapoos wag their tails for many different reasons. It’s a big part of how they communicate with you. Wagging their tail doesn’t always mean they are happy. They could be conveying other emotions like nervousness or fear as well. The key to understanding their tail wags is to put it together with all the other contextual clues they are giving you. What are their ears doing, their eyes, how is their posture? Noticing these things as well will help you know why your Cavapoo is wagging its tail.
Here are some things your Cavapoo could be communicating to you with its tail.
- Calm and chill – Tail in the natural resting position. Sleeping or resting or casually walking around.
- Greeting or I love you – Usually, a big carefree wag, accompanied by eye contact, coming to you and jumping on you or trying to get your attention.
- Curious or unsure – Backwards and gentle wagging. Maybe sniffing around a little, intense and curious staring. Looking to you for reassurance.
- I’m nervous or scared – The tail between their legs and possibly slightly moving. Body tense, eyes down, ears laid back. Could also be trying to communicate a submissive position.
- Aggression – Tail high in the air and rigid. Poised, rigid, and making eye contact. Could be barking or growling as well.
- Happy and excited – Fast care free wagging. Wiggling body, happy facial expressions. Body not tense, possibly going in circles around the object causing excitement such as a treat or toy.
There’s also been a study done that shows the direction that your dog wags its tail can show positive or negative emotion. Wagging their tail towards the right side of their body can indicate more positive emotions such as relaxed, and happy. Wagging their tails on the left side of their body is a sign of more negative emotions such as nervousness or fear.
For most Cavapoo wagging their tails to communicate is a natural and normal thing for them to do. Occasionally you will find a Cavapoo that doesn’t wag its tail at all. Don’t worry, you are not alone.
If your Cavapoo doesn’t wag its tail it’s most likely just part of its personality or genes. It could also be that they have an extra curly or short tail that makes it more difficult for them to wag, but it could also indicate a medical problem and they should be seen by your vet to rule out any serious issues.
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If your Cavapoo has recently stopped wagging its tail then there are some other things you should consider. If you have just moved, or they are new to your home this could just mean they are nervous and need some time to get acclimated to their new environment.
Some dogs are bigger tail-waggers than others. If your Cavapoo doesn’t wag its tail at all then you will have to learn to identify other body language cues to help you understand what they are trying to tell you.
Other Tips for Cavapoo Tail Problems
What is limber (or swimmer’s) tail, and what to do
If you notice your Cavapoo tail hanging down and it looks limp and unnatural then he may have a condition known as limber tail.
Limber tail, also known as swimmer’s tail, frozen tail, dead tail, broken wag, or cold tail, is a condition that causes your dog to hold his tail limp and down instead of the usual upright position. Its official name is Acute Caudal Myopathy.
It is most likely to happen after your dog has had very active or strenuous play, exercise, or excessive tail wagging. Sometimes a lot of swimming can cause it, being in cold wet weather, if they are confined to their crate too long, or if your doodles tail is wagging and getting whacked on various surfaces.
This could cause your dog pain and swelling in their tail, make it difficult to sit. Usually, this condition will go away on its own after a few days of rest. It’s important to try and limit exercise and movement if you notice that your dog is experiencing this problem. If it is causing your doodle a lot of pain then consulting your vet is a good idea.
Usually, this isn’t a chronic problem, but it is a good idea to figure out what may have triggered it in the first place and try to avoid that activity if possible. Coldwater play, or being confined in a crate too long are often things that could trigger this condition.
Cavapoo licking chasing or biting tail
If your dog is chasing, licking, or biting his tail it could be a simple game, or there could be something more going on. Chasing and biting could be an indication of fleas or mites, licking could indicate allergies.
To learn more about Cavapoo licking, read this: Cavapoo Obsessive Licking (Quick Solutions Guide)
How to keep poop from sticking to your Cavapoo butt
This can be a common smelly problem for long hair dogs. If it happens often and doesn’t get taken care of it can also lead to serious health issues as well.
Here are some tips to keep your fur baby’s fluffy rear end clean.
- Keep the hair near their rear clean and trimmed.
- Keep wipes handy to clean it out right away.
- Add more fiber to your dog’s diet.
- Check for infections or parasites such as worms.
While we strive to give the most accurate and helpful information about your pet’s health that we can, this article is meant to be informational only and not medical advice. Never disregard, avoid or delay in obtaining medical advice from your veterinarian or other qualified veterinary health care provider regardless of what you have read on this site or elsewhere.