Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails?

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Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails?Our dogs are weird. Some of them can’t help but jump up in bed with us in the morning and give us a tongue bath, while others want nothing more than to take a toy and shred it into a million tiny fibers and decorate your floor (and how proud they seem to be when they’ve finished!).

Some dogs chase their tails. The image of a dog spinning like a little tornado has been shown on TV, in movies, and is about as normal of a phenomenon as leaves regaining their spring color or cars buzzing down a busy street.

But why do dogs chase their tails? The answer is equal parts scientific and hereditary, and each dog might have a different reason he will spend his free time trying to catch that hairy thing that follows him around all day.

What are Dog’s Tails for?

Before we try to understand why they chase their tails, let’s examine why dogs have tails in the first place.

Conveying Emotion

  • Tail Wag –canines wag their tails to show excitement or that they’re happy to see you.
  • Stiff Tail – dogs are tense and either sense danger or are showing aggression.
  • Tail between the Legs – canines show fear by hiding their tail between their legs.


  • A dog can use his tail as a sort of rudder when swimming.
  • Like a tight rope walker, a dog adjusts his tail to better change direction or for general balance.

Spreading Scent

  • Communication – tails are used to help secrete liquid from the anal glands to spread their scent.
  • High Tail – a dog that holds its tail high might be doing so to release more scent for other dogs to pick up on.

Why Dogs Chase Their Tails?

Now that we understand a little more about our dogs’ tails, we can begin to understand why they might want to chase them.

Canine CD (Compulsive Disorder) or CCD

  • Psychological – canines are sometimes predisposed with the inability to concentrate.
  • Other signs of CCD – constant lip licking, barking or chasing anything that moves might be signs your dog has Canine CD.


  • Itch – dogs can chase their tails if they have an itch, which can be caused by fleas, ticks or bowel irritation.

Predatory Instinct

  • Born to Hunt – dogs’ predatory nature sometimes forces them to “chase” anything that moves and catches their eye.


  • Cholesterol – Dogs that have shown high levels of cholesterol have more sudden changes in mood or behavior, and are more likely to chase their tails.

General Boredom

  • Sometimes there isn’t a real answer. Dogs are a little weird sometimes, and they might just chase it for pure enjoyment.

How to Stop your Dog from Chasing its Tail

If you are concerned about your dog’s tendencies of chasing his tail, there are some things you can do to curb that behavior. Below, see a video from Dr. David Randall who explains some of the reasons a dog chases its tail and how to curb that behavior.


  • A tired dog is more likely to have a tired mind, which would prevent spontaneous acts like tail-chasing.
  • Interaction with other dogs is another way to stimulate your dog and may decrease the likelihood of him chasing his tail.


  • There are some medications that your vet can prescribe to your dog to help ease his mind and make him less likely to chase his tail.

Tale of the Tail

In general, dogs chasing their tails should not be a concerning thing. Dogs are all unique and all have different, strange and odd reasons they do the things they do. If you think your dog has a real problem, then you can talk to your vet about it and see if there is something you can do. Otherwise, get some good video and post your pup online for the world to enjoy! 😉

Why do you think your dog chases its tail?

Ryan Rauch graduated from Scripps School of Journalism in 2009 and has been writing for Canine Journal since 2012. Ryan enjoys writing and researching new and evolving home security measures, and has a passion for technology.

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