Havanese Tail Complete Guide (Docked, Curled, How to Groom)

The soft billowing beautiful plume on the cute little rear end of a Havanese dog is in my humble opinion one of the best features of this breed. Their fluffy tails are able to communicate a great number of things to us! This is why I think it’s not a bad idea to invest a little bit of time and love into not only caring for our Havenese every need but especially in taking care of their cute waggly tails!

There are a lot of questions that someone might have when it comes to your dog’s tail, such as what does a normal Havanese tail look like? Should a Havanese tail ever be docked? What is the best way to groom and style your Havanese tail? What should you do if your Havanese tail is hanging down?

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 Havanese tail. I’ve done my research and talked to a lot of Havanese owners and vets so you can have all the answers in one place.

Pro Tip: If you are interested in the best grooming tools for your dog you can find them by clicking here now!

What does a Havanese Tail Look Like

A normal Havanese tail is high-set and curls up and over the backside of the dog. The long billowy tail plume falls to either side of the dog’s body. Some Havanese tails will hang down when they are relaxed or scared.

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Do Havanese have tails?

Purebreds and Havanese mixes do have tails. Your Havanese should naturally have a long tail that has a gentle graceful curve up and over their back. The tip of the tail should rest just to the side of their hind end. If your Havanese or Havanese mix has a very short stub tail then it was either born with a stub tail as a result of a possible genetic defect or possibly docked.

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How long are Havanesetails?

Havanese Tails are on average are 3 to 6 inches long. Think the length and curve of a very small banana.

Do Havanese get their tails docked

Havanese are not a breed that gets their tails docked. Some Havanese mixes will have their tails docked if the breeder was following the standard for the other breed that your Havanese is mixed with.

Historically Havanese are bred to be companion lap dogs therefore there is no reason that their tails should ever be docked.

Some small breeds such as the Yorkshire Terrier and poodles will often have their tails docked for aesthetic purposes. These dogs are historically working dogs, they have been bred in the past to do certain jobs. For example, Yorkshire Terriers were bred to catch and exterminate rodents for coal mine workers.

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As working dogs, it was safer for these breeds to have shorter tails to prevent them from getting caught or injured in the line of duty. Some owners like to maintain that historical appearance even if their dogs are only bred to be companion dogs.

The AKC (American Kennel Club) has different standards for different breeds. The standard for Yorkies and Poodles have docked tails so breeders who have a desire to follow those standards will most likely dock the tail of their puppies. If you have a Havanese mix such as a Havapoo or a Havashire it is possible that their tails may be docked, however, it is completely unnecessary.

Do Havanese have curly tails

Havanese do not have curly tails. Their tails should make an arc from the base of the tail up and over their back. Any tail curling more tightly than that may be considered a flaw in genetics or breeding.

Some Havanese owners have noticed that their Havanese tail curls more than normal and almost looks like a pig’s curly tail. If this is the case for your Havanese don’t panic, it shouldn’t cause any problems, but you may want to check with your vet at their next appointment to be sure.

It would also be recommended that you don’t breed your Havanese as this flaw can be passed down to the puppies and become more problematic for each generation going forward.

The one issue some owners have with their Havanese curly tail would be that it can make grooming more difficult. Having a curly tail can cause more matting at the base of the tail.

Havanese Tail Wagging and Communication

Havanese 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 Havanese is wagging their tail.

Here are some things your Havanese 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.
Thank you Boomer Nelson For letting us use your photos! Check out his Facebook Page Here!

There’s also been a study done that shows the direction that your dog wags their 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 Havanese wagging their tails to communicate is a natural and normal thing for them to do. Occasionally you will find a Havanese that doesn’t wag its tail at all. Don’t worry, you are not alone. 

If your Havanese doesn’t wag their tail it’s most likely just part of their personality or genes. It could also be that they have an extra curly 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.

If your Havanese has recently stopped wagging their tail then there could be other factors involved. 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 Havanese doesn’t wag their 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.

How to Groom Havanese Tails and Different Styles

Most of the time a Havanese tail is left full and uncut. Part of their charm is the gorgeous plume flowing from their rear end. This does require daily or at the least bi-weekly brushing. This Brush works really well for keeping the mats away on long hair dogs like Havanese.

There are several different types of cuts and styles that you can have your Havanese get including:

Puppy Cut – The hair is cut short all over so that it’s only 1-2 inches long

Teddy Bear Cut – Similar to the puppy cut except the hair is left around 3 inches long and rounded around the edges.

Kennel Cut – Mostly keeping the natural length, but Just a short trim in problem areas.

Pro Tip: Having a grooming kit at home can help you maintain your dog’s beautiful coat and keep their tail looking nice and tangle-free! Here’s one that we really like. (We use it for our Maltese/Chi Mix)

Regardless of the cut that your Havanese gets, usually the tail is just brushed out and trimmed. It’s really up to you how long or short you want your dogs long silky hair to be.

If your Havanese does get mats in their tail it’s probably a good idea to trim it up or possibly thin it out a little bit. Here is a video that will help you know how to trim your Havanese tail.

Other Tips for Havanese Tails Problems

Havanese Tail Hanging Down

If your dog is temporarily holding its tail in the down position it’s most likely an indication of submission or guilt, but if your Havanese is unable to hold its tail upright as it has in the past and it seems as if it’s in pain it could indicate a condition called limber tail or a luxating patella.

Luxating Patella in a Havanese

If your Havanese is constantly Holding his tail down or it seems to be in a down position more often than the normal resting position this could indicate a problem called Luxating Patella. This really is just a fancy way to stay a misplaced knee cap. Besides the tail, another indication this may be the problem is if you notice your dog stretching out their rear limbs and walking in circles. Luxated Patella is a common problem for small breeds and often will self-correct after a few days or rest and stretching.

If it seems to be causing your dog a lot of pain or the problem is not going away it’s best to take your dog to the vet. They will assess the situation and if this is a recurring problem for your dog may recommend surgery to fix the problem. If surgery is performed it should be a permanent fix for your dog.

What is Limber (Swimmers) Tail and What to Do

If you notice your Havanese tail hanging down and it looks limp and unnatural then he may have a condition known as Limber Tail.

Limber tail Also known as swimmers 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 a 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 dog’s 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 dog 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.

Havanese Tail Infection (Tail Tip Necrosis)

This is a very serious problem, but thankfully very rare in Havanese. It can be important though that you learn to identify it right away so the issue can be dealt with before it causes permanent damage.

This can be caused by the constant beating of the tail against objects that may harbor bacteria. If the tail gets an open wound and the bacteria gets in it can lead to an infection that will spread and cause the tissue to become damaged or start dying.

Watch for hair loss at the end of the tail. Excessive itching, bloody or brittle skin, foul-smelling, excessive biting or the tail.

Take your dog to the vet right away if you notice any of these things in your dog. The vet will assess and most likely have to amputate the infected part of the tail. This may be a very sad thing to have to deal with, but if the infection spreads it could endanger your dog’s life.

How to Keep Poop From Sticking to your Havanese 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 babies 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 dogs diet.
  • Check for infections or parasites such as worms.

Check out these other articles all about your Havanese dog!

Why Your Havanese Licks so Much. (And What to do!) | Paws and Learn