Cocker Spaniel Tail Problems


As any other dog, a tail of a Cocker Spaniel performs an essential role in species communication. By means of the tail, a dog is able to show its mood (cheerfulness, aggression, excitement, for example). Also, a tail helps to maintain the balance in the environment, especially during swimming.

But if there are some problems with the tail, they should be identified and eliminated in-time. There are some common tail problems in dogs that every Cocker Spaniel owner should know.

Tail Docking

The main reason for tail docking in Cocker Spaniels – some ‘traditional’ Cocker look that should be always adhered to (Spaniels with long tails don’t look ‘natural’). This tradition begins upon the use of field ‘working’ Cocker Spaniels in flushing games. The thing is that during the hunting, the tail of a Cocker Spaniel would often get snagged and badly damaged and it was very necessary to have it removed.

Recommendation: ask the breeder, how does he perform docking: in vet clinic or at home. ‘Home-made’ docking is very dangerous for a puppy: breeders sometimes neglect the basic health and safety measures, thus, provoking deadly bleedings and various infections. A puppy may even die of the pain shock. Please, decide, whether you want your future dog to undergo such a procedure.

Break, Sprain or Fracture

These problems may occur due to the various reasons: slamming door, accidental footing, careless play with family members or dogs. If your Cocker Spaniel has a tail break or sprain, your dog may whine or yelp if you try to touch the injured area. Also, it is painful for a dog to wag its tail; a dog is restless; there is a swelling or bruise on the tail.

If your Cocker has a fracture, the tail is usually droop right at the position of the break. You will also notice some swelling; the injured area is sensitive; a dog has an acute pain. If your Cocker Spaniel has a fracture, it will need an emergency aid.

Warning! A break or fracture can hinder balance and coordination. It is recommended to take the tail off, since tail fractures are rather difficult to lock.

Sores or Hair Loss

Excessive biting or rubbing of the tail due to itchy skin, parasitic infection or bacteria may lead to sores or hair loss in the region. If you have discovered some fleas (or already flea dermatitis), it is necessary to treat a dog with special anti-parasitic products.

Advice: to start with, wash your Cocker Spaniel with anti-flea shampoo paying attention to the tail area.

After the dog is dry, you can use some of the anti-flea products such as:

  • collar;
  • drops (topical liquid);
  • spray.

Sores or hair loss on the tail can signal that your Cocker Spaniel has bacterial infection, general body illness, allergy, or it just need balanced diet with some vitamins, micro- and macro elements.

Limber Tail Syndrome

This particularly condition is very difficult to diagnose. This syndrome affects all breeds, no matter what tail do they have: docked or not docked. But, primarily, sporting and hunting breeds are prone to the syndrome.

Be careful! If your Cocker Spaniel suddenly hangs its tail flaccidly and the tail becomes painful, immediately visit a vet doctor to check for LTS.

The nature of LTS is still unclear, but generally it develops due to overexertion, climate changes, swimming, excessive exercise or improper crating. The dog is treated with antibiotics and rest.


We hope, that the article will help you to understand your Cocker’s tail problem and get in-time medical aid.

10 Photos of the Cocker Spaniel Tail Problems

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Author of Silvia Brown
Written by Silvia Brown
Glad to see you, my friends! I started this blog several years ago as a hobby and continue to write articles about dogs.
I'm a dog lover and the proud owner of two wonderful dogs: French Bulldog Maya and Beagle Tom. It's been more than 10 years since I had a dogs and worked closely with them. I've raised four dogs throughout my life and have experience assisting in the births of two dogs. At least once a week, I volunteer with friends at a dog shelter AMA Animal Rescue and Animal Care Centers of NYC in NY.
Medically reviewed by Awilda Rodriguez, DVM on June 4th, 2017,

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