In this image you can clearly see Luke using his tail to maneuver a sharp turn.
This is a controversial subject; and these writings are my opinion on the subject. Everyone has the right to their own opinion. Now donning my safety suit.
How important is the tail for a dog? Way important; and this crucial piece of anatomy is often chopped off. Certain breeds; even mixes sometimes have their tails removed or docked (full or partial removal of the tail.) My own breed; the standard poodle has their tails docked as do Jack Russells. My dogs all have docked tails; do I agree with this procedure? Nope. I would love my next dog to have an intact tail but sadly they are removed as young as three days old. There are a few breeders who will set aside a specific pup with tail intact but at three days old you have no idea if that is the dog for you temperament wise so not a good idea when choosing a puppy.
Dogs tails are essential for optimum communication and maneuverability. I also feel that they deserve to keep their tails just because. Who are we to say that a dog looks better with their tail chopped off? Hogwash is what I say. Wolves have long tails and all of our dog are decendents of the wolf. Luke has a longerish tail which I love; it is a nice visual and is a tell tale about how he is feeling.
Tails are huge in communication; I watch tails all the time if they have them. Tails speak volumes and cutting them off hinders a dogs ability to fully communicate. Dogs who have little or no tail create a challenge for the receiver of their communications. And if you watch dogs in action you see just how much they use their tails. Tails are used for balance and direction changes. As a lover of action photography I get the chance to see the tail in action alot. By freezing dogs in full out maneuvering positions you see the tail usage clearly.
Tilley almost lost her tail several years back due to a severe injury. On our second visit to the vet for this reason he suggested that we amputate. At 11 years of age I did not want her to undergo surgery nor did the idea of chopping her tail off sound good to me. I could just imagine the pain she would have to endure. I gladly report that she still has her tail, completely intact. It took around the clock nursing for several months but we came through with a full tail. :)
I am also happy to say that there are a few rebel breeders out there who are taking a stand and not chopping off tails. Many of these people are involved in some type of performance with their dogs and see how much dogs do use their tails. If you do some research you can find these breeders. Perhaps there will come a day when we look back shaking our heads at the idea of cutting off tails, we can hope.
Here are several links in regards to tail docking.
Young Lawyers Animal Rights committee
Advocates for animals