Why Do Huskies Have Curly Tails? (Husky Tail FAQs)

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This article has been fact-checked by Dr. Dilber Hussain, DVM, to ensure we're providing the most up-to-date guidance. READ MORE

When new owners are looking for a breeder to adopt from, they’ll often decide by the appearance traits of the breeding pair. Some may look for distinctive coat markings, while others will want a husky with the most striking eyes.

One feature that’s rising in popularity is a curly tail, which to many people signifies a friendly and playful personality. Of course, a husky’s appearance is not at all related to its personality, but first impressions matter right?

Have you ever wondered why huskies have curly tails? Or whether all huskies are guaranteed to have curly tails?

The simple answer is that curly tails are related to a husky’s genes – it’s a genetic trait that they may or may not inherit from their parents. It is thought that a curly tail would have helped a Husky to stay warm and give protection whilst sleeping in the cold.

This article will tell you why huskies have curly tails and give you additional information about what different tail types mean. Let’s get straight into it!

Why Do Huskies Have Curly Tails?

Let’s first take a look at the reason for having a curly tail. It might surprise you to know that there is a purpose at all, and it isn’t simply to make them look cuter!

The tail is an essential part of a dog’s anatomy. It’s used for balance, communication, and even heat regulation (it has an insulating effect). As such, the shape of a dog breed’s tail can tell you a lot about the conditions they evolved in.

The reason for a husky’s distinctive curl shape is actually quite simple: it’s designed to help keep a husky warm in cold weather. The curl acts as an additional layer of insulation, protecting against heat loss during harsh winters.

The rounded shape is also ideal for wrapping closely around the husky, almost like wearing a fluffy blanket. The length of their tail means that the tip should reach the husky’s face to cover its eyes and nose. This adds an extra layer of protection from the elements – particularly handy if they ever need to sleep outside in the snow.

You will commonly see curled tails in other winter breeds, such as Alaskan Malamutes, that had to survive in similar conditions to the husky.

Do All Huskies Have Curly Tails?

Let’s not beat around the bush, some huskies will have curly tails simply because of their genetics. The majority of huskies have curly tails because that’s how the breed evolved.

That doesn’t mean that all huskies will have a curly tail, however, as we’ve known huskies to have seemingly straight tails despite both parents having curly tails. A straight tail on a husky is often referred to as a ‘trailing tail’ as it does not curl over the husky’s back.

The degree of ‘curliness’ can also vary hugely between huskies. Some huskies may have only a slight curl which can look practically straight in comparison to other huskies.

Not only that, but a husky’s tail may appear straight or curly depending on its current emotional state. Generally, the more excited or happy a husky is, the curlier (or taller) its tail will become. When a husky is focused or working, you may notice its tail hanging down.

Curly and Sickle Tails in Huskies

Here’s something we need to clear the air on – huskies don’t technically have curly tails.

If we take a look at the AKC breed standard for huskies, we can see the following passage about how a husky’s tail should look:

The well furred tail of foxbrush shape is set on just below the level of the topline, and is usually carried over the back in a graceful sickle curve when the dog is at attention.

Notice the term ‘sickle’? That is the technically correct term for the shape of a husky’s tail. But what actually is the difference between ‘curly’ and ‘sickle’?

Well, a curly tail is just more… curly! The easiest way to demonstrate it is to take a look at the diagram below.

The left two images show examples of curly tails, the right two images show example of sickle tails.
Image source.

As you can see, the curly tails have a more distinctive curl. You would usually see this kind of shape on Akitas and Pugs. By comparison, a sickle tail looks almost straight! The reason husky tails are often referred to as curly tails is because of the way they curve over the husky’s back.

When talking to other husky owners, most will use the term curly rather than sickle so don’t worry too much about the specifics!

Is the Curly Tail a Breed-Specific Trait?

The answer is no. The curly (sickle) tail is not a breed-specific trait, but rather a product of genetics and the environment.

A study published in the American Kennel Club Gazette found that a number of different breeds exhibit a curl in their tails, including German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Shiba Inu, Samoyed, and Pomeranians. Curly tails are also common among mixed-breed dogs.

Once again, the degree of curliness varies greatly between breeds. Some dogs, such as pugs, typically have much more tightly curled tails than a husky’s. This could be a result of selective-breeding for appearance reasons.

What Does the Position of a Husky’s Tail Mean?

If you’re looking for a signal that will let you know your husky is happy, scared, or eager and ready to go running with you – look no further than the position of their tail!

The more relaxed your husky is feeling, the more likely they are to have their tail down. If they feel threatened by something in the room (or outside), they’ll likely raise it slightly as if asking “What do we do now?”.

You might even notice that their tail becomes bushier with certain emotions, particularly fear and anticipation. This can also alter the curliness of their tails, and serves the purpose of making your husky look bigger and more intimidating to potential threats.

However, it isn’t an exact science. A husky’s mood can change quickly and is often based on what’s going on around them at any given moment—making it hard for us humans to decipher their feelings!

In some cases, when an excited husky runs toward something or someone new he or she may wag his body back and forth while keeping his tail straight out behind him—this is called flagging because it looks like a flag flapping in the wind!

Do Husky Puppies Have Curly Tails?

Husky puppy tails are straight in the first few months of their lives. As they get older and become more active, however, their tail starts to curl as it grows.

At four months old it can begin curling slightly; by six months old the tail will start curling more noticeably, and at eight months old your pup’s tail will be curled up like an adult husky’s.

This isn’t a strict timeline – some husky puppies may have a fully curled tail at 4 months whereas others might not develop it until they are fully grown.

Regular exercise helps strengthen the muscles around the tailbone so that they can support the weight of the curled tail without causing damage to it or your dog’s health overall.

A lack of exercise can also lead to muscle atrophy which can weaken bones and joints over time including those around your dog’s tailbone which may result in permanent damage or arthritis later on down the road.

Can Your Husky’s Tail Indicate If They’re Purebred?

No – the tail is not a reliable indicator of the breed. Breed is determined by genetics and is influenced by many factors, including how much time the parents spend together and their genetic makeup.

The only way you can reliably determine whether a husky is purebred is to take a DNA test (although you can usually assume a Husky is purebred if both parents are registered with your country’s kennel club).

As we have previously mentioned, the AKC breed standard does not specifically define having a curly tail as required for a husky to be purebred. The traits that are required are listed below:

  • A well furred tail of foxbrush shape which is set on just below the level of the topline.
  • When carried up, the tail does not curl to either side of the body, nor does it snap flat against the back.
  • Hair on the tail is of medium length and approximately the same length on top, sides
    and bottom, giving the appearance of a round brush.

The listed faults related to a husky’s tail within the AKC breed standard are as follows:

  • A snapped or tightly curled tail.
  • A highly plumed tail.
  • A tail set too low or too high.

We want to remind everyone that a husky’s appearance is not related to their personality or worth. All huskies should be loved equally, regardless of how their tail looks!

Final Thoughts

It’s clear that Husky tails come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. And while some people think that the curl is a sign of purebred breeding, it is not always accurate. Plus, there are other ways you can tell, whether your husky has a curly tail or not!

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About The Author

Caitlin is the owner and lead writer for The Malamute Mom. She has over 10 years of experience with Alaskan Malamutes and Huskies. She is currently working on getting her PhD in materials science but continues to write for The Malamute Mom in her spare time.

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