The Happy Tail Syndrome

Well, until this morning, I had no clue that there exists something called the Happy Tail syndrome. Now Mia has always been a vigorous wagger! Anyone she knows needs to just enter the premises, and she starts. Thump, thump, thump it goes. At times, even when she is asleep and dreaming!

But over the last few weeks, this vigorous tail wagging has left the end of her tail bleeding. Although the bleeding was not much, the tail would not heal, given her incessant wagging against hard objects. So Dr Google to the rescue again! A simple search for bleeding tails revealed the Happy Tail syndrome (not so happy after all). Who would have guessed that there is a happy disease.

But sadly it’s true. A Happy Tail, is actually an injury to the tail caused when a dog wags his tail against hard objects, such as a wall, doors, crates or a table. This causes the tail to cut open or split and bleed, and may result in blood splatters around the house, as the dog continues to run around and wag his tail (like mine).

The injury itself is not really dangerous nor is the loss of blood, which is usually quite little. What is the most trying part is to get the tail to heal. The tip of the tail takes long to heal and is difficult to bandage. In addition, once the tail heals, the dog may still continue to wag his tail, happily, resulting in injuries, yet again (sigh).

If your dog is afflicted by this syndrome, a trip to the vet is warranted. This is because even though you may be able to stop the bleeding and maybe even bandage the tail, it will most likely not remain in place and might also lead to an infection. The vet will be able to assess how bad the tail is hurt and give medications (antibiotics) accordingly.

Apparently, happy dogs with short hair and strong butts (aka Mia), are prone to Happy Tail. Breeds that are included are Labradors, Retrievers, Pit Bulls, Great Danes, Ridge Backs and any other dog with a poorly cushioned tail tip and a strong wag.

There is no cure for such happiness unfortunately! You would just need to ensure that your dog has enough space to wag around, without hitting anything hard. Happy wagging!!


I took Mia to the vet again last Thursday (3 days after the first visit), and was told that although the cut was healing well, the tip appeared quite black and most likely was dead. They wanted to take her in that same day and cut off her tail! I was not prepared for this at all. So I decided to wait until Monday (today), to see of the tip would heal. I wasn’t sure that it was dead because Mia could still feel it.

Anyway, I took her again this morning – prepared for the op if necessary. But another vet had a look at the wound and was of the opinion that we should wait a little longer (thank God). He agreed that the tip felt warm and might just be ok. But if it were to bleed again, there would be no option but to amputate a part of it.

All I want to say here is, I know I might be stalling the inevitable, but I don’t want to rush into an op until I have exhausted all other possibilities. Mia and her tail deserve that chance.

It’s been three months now since I first took Mia to the vet with her injured tail. Having decided to wait and watch, I am happy to report that the tail has healed completely!! The hair has grown back and she is back being a regular happy dog. I didn’t need to dock the tail and am much relieved. However, I am aware that she could hurt herself again so I am very careful when she rushes out to greet people, wagging that tail. Its been good so far and hope it stays that way.

I would just like to add that in case ypur dog also suffers from a happy tail, please do get a second opinion before going in for amputation. It’s not always necessary.


My little munchkin with her bandaged tail.
My little munchkin with her bandaged tail.

8 thoughts on “The Happy Tail Syndrome

    1. Alfonso is lucky..he is small and tail is curly!. But its been tough..according to the vet we may need to amputate a little bit of the tail coz they think its dead already. I am giving it one more week to make sure…I really dont want to snip off any bit :((

  1. Awww thank God Mia’s tail is healing, if it was my lil dog who happened to have it i couldnt bear to cut of even a single bit off. she looks a cutie.

  2. Thank you for this! My 8 year old Labradoodle experienced ‘Happy Tail’ for the first time last weekend. And, our vet started telling us that once this happens, it’s almost always necessary to amputate the tail. I disagree because it hasn’t been an issue for 8 years of his life. So, that’s jumping the gun! We’re working on letting it heal and keeping him calm for a while. Then, I’m going to try to be creative and come up with some kind of wrap he can wear for a few months for extra precautions. I appreciate your positive spin on this. I hate jumping to such an extreme measure without due cause.

    1. Oh absolutely Marie. …wait and watch and definitely get a second opinion. My mia still whacks it hard every now and then and the yail splits…but it hasn’t been too bad. Just figure out what thr problem areas are in your house and maybe work on them. Hope ur labbie just weathers this storm without any ops. All the best!

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