The Furry Critter Network

Tail Chasing

Tail chasing, also known as whirling, can be funny or even troublesome to the viewer, depending on the age of the dog and whether the dog chases its tail to excess. Tail chasing is a natural behavior that is common among the young of predators. Unlike prey species, predators can spend time playing because they do not have to worry that another animal will try to eat them while they're playing.

It is a common behavior for puppies and dogs to chase their tail. It is normal for puppies to chase their tails when they are very young. Some puppies, when in a new home without their littermates, will chase their tail around because there is not a puppy with which it can play. Some observers comment that it is as though the puppy does not know that it's tail is attached to itself as it chases it's tail around.

It is not so normal when adult dogs chase their tail. For an adult dog, there can be several causes of the tail chasing episodes. The cause for the tail chasing could be physical, neurological, behavioral or a combination of all.

Physical causes for tail chasing include fleas, worms or irritated anal sacs. Another cause could be psychomotor epilepsy or other seizure condition. There are also neurological causes for tail chasing associated with the balance of dopamine in the dog’s body.

When a dog chases its tail to excess for no apparent reason, it is considered a dog compulsive disorder. Some dogs will chase their tail and even chew at themselves. It is thought that 2% of the dog population has a dog compulsive disorder.

Causes for tail chasing without a reason include too much confinement or restriction of the dog’s behavior. In some extreme cases, a dog will chase its tail until it is exhausted, sleep a short time to get up and chase its tail again.

Tail chasing may also be done by dogs that are normal without any physical, neurological or behavioral problems. Tail chasing is prevalent in some lines of terrier breeds, although all breeds of dogs will chase their tails.

Puppies will quit chasing their tail, as they get older. If your adult dog is chasing its tail, it is important that you understand why it is happening. It could be a signal that there is a problem.

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The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) was the first humane society to be established in North America and is, today, one of the largest in the world.

Our organization was founded on the belief that animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans and must be protected under the law. Headquartered in New York City, the ASPCA maintains a strong local presence, and with programs that extend our anti-cruelty mission across the country, we are recognized as a national animal welfare organization. We are a privately funded 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, and are proud to boast more than 2 million supporters across the country.

The ASPCA’s mission, as stated by founder Henry Bergh in 1866, is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.”

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Jeff Gold lives in Watkinsville, Georgia on the same property as Rescue Me's Animal Rehabilitation Center, with 18 rescue animals. Shown with him in the photo to the left are Maggie, Izzie and Cortez. In 2003, after learning there was nobody doing boxer rescue work in Georgia, Gold founded Boxertown, an organization which helped find homes for over 500 boxers during its first two years. Based upon this success, Gold came up with the vision for Rescue Me! ― a network which helps all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals find good homes, anywhere in the world. is also a free service of Rescue Me! and provides the world's largest and most up-to-date directory of animal rescue organizations for all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals, including a comprehensive directory of wildlife rehabilitators in over 150 countries.