Is The English Bulldog With A Tail Normal? + How To Care For It

English Bulldogs are lovely dogs with a sturdy small build. They have two specific things in their appearance that people know them for. Their flat face, and their tails.

You may be surprised to know that the English Bulldog with a tail is the normal type of English Bulldog. The tails can come in a few different ways: straight, curly, corkscrew, or long and wavy. The Bulldogs with their tails docked are surgically made that way for a few reasons.

Key Takeaways

  • All English Bulldogs are born with tails.
  • There are a few types of tails: straight, curly, corkscrew, and long and wavy.
  • The straight and corkscrew tails are desirable by the AKC.
  • The corkscrew tails come with some medical issues.
  • Common medical issues are Tail fold pyoderma, Spina bifida, and Thoracic Vertebral Canal Stenosis.
  • Not all English Bulldogs have a tail pocket underneath their tail.
  • English Bulldog tail docking is a procedure for cutting off the dog’s tail and it is painful for the dog.
  • Most USA states have not yet made tail docking illegal. Most of Europe has.

The English Bulldog – Does It Have A Tail?

The English Bulldog is a dog breed that has existed for centuries. It was bred in England and was used for bullbaiting, a sport that does not exist anymore.

It is a medium-sized dog with a muscular and sturdy build. It has a short and dense coat and a brachycephalic face that makes it hard to breathe well. The English Bulldog is a stubborn dog, but it is also very intelligent and a loving member of the family.

Are Bulldogs Born With Tails?

Yes. All English Bulldogs have their tails from birth and keep them throughout their lives. Their tails are quite short compared to other breeds so that’s why it may look like they don’t have them.

The tails are formed from the coccygeal vertebrae or tail bones of the spine. Usually, full-tailed dogs have 19-23 coccygeal vertebrae. English Bulldogs have just 6-13.

Types Of Tails In An English Bulldog

There are a few different types of tails that your English Bulldog can be born with. These include staring, curly, corkscrew, and long and wavy.

Straight Tails

These tails are also known as pump-handle tails. They are straight, short, and low hanging and taper down at the end. Being some of the most common English Bulldog tail types, the American Kennel Club considers these tails a standard and desirable. The tails are soft while the dog is young and stiffen once it gets older. 

Curly Tails

These tails usually spiral on themselves like a pig’s tail, or curve back on themselves like a Basenji’s tail. Breeders consider these tails as least desirable. They usually avoid breeding puppies with this tail type. This makes the English Bulldog with a curly tail a less common occurrence.

Corkscrew Tails

These tails start by wrapping around themselves to get the characteristic corkscrew shape. The corkscrew tails are some of the most common English Bulldog tail types. They are accepted by the American Kennel Club. When the dog is young, the tail is flexible and can extend. In time, it hardens and gets the bun shape or cinnamon roll shape. This can cause problems with hygiene.

Long And Wavy Tails

Although it happens very rarely, the English Bulldog can have a long and wavy tail. These tails are long, wavy, and perfect for obtaining good hygiene. But the American Kennel Club considers these tails to be “faulty”. Dogs with these tails can’t win in dog shows because of the breed standards. That’s why they are less common.

Tail Problems In English Bulldogs

Some of the different types of tails go along with diseases caused by their nature. These diseases are most common with corkscrew tails. The English Bulldog long tail and straight tail are not associated with these health problems. The corkscrew tails are a genetic malformation but people have selectively bred the English Bulldog so they are quite common.

Tail Fold Pyoderma

Tail fold pyoderma is common with corkscrew-tailed English Bulldogs. This condition happens because the skin folds of the corkscrew tails rub each other and create inflammation. Because the area is warm and damp, bacteria build up and can lead to infection. This is also exacerbated by the fecal matter coming from the close anus.

You may notice your dog not allowing you to touch its tail because of pain. It may also rub itself on the floor or furniture to relieve itching. There can also be a foul odor at the site of the tail folds. English Bulldogs do not bark a lot typically, but they may express this behavior in this situation. You will notice your English Bulldog with a red inflamed tail fold and ulcers in later stages.

You should contact your vet about this condition. They will most likely prescribe antibiotics and recommend proper ways to keep the area clean. This condition can repeat and sometimes surgery is needed.

Spinal Column Malformations

The corkscrew tails also come with some other spinal column malformations. Two are most commonly spoken about:

Spina Bifida – This is a genetic malformation where the spinal cord doesn’t get fully enclosed like it’s supposed to. This lets the spinal cord and nerves exposed to the outside which comes with some consequences. The symptoms of Spina Bifida vary with every dog. Some are completely mobile and partially incontinent. Others are fully paralyzed and fully incontinent. Your dog will leave odorless wet spots on its beds because of the incontinence. In some dogs, you can even see a dimple in the place where the deformity is located. The care for these dogs can be a bit different. Dogs with incontinence require wearing diapers.

Thoracic Vertebral Canal Stenosis – The English Bulldog with a corkscrew tail may develop this malformation. It happens because the vertebrae become malformed and squeeze the spinal cord. This condition is common in young male English Bulldogs with corkscrew tails. You may notice your dog walking improperly with uncoordinated movements. Usually, these dogs require surgery.

What Are Tail Pockets And How To Clean Them

Not all English Bulldogs have tail pockets, but some do. These are small skin flaps beneath the tail that become visible in the first few months of your pup’s life. Because it is a flap of skin, it collects dead skin and dirt during everyday life. In time, this dirt piles up and leads to an infection. Diminished mobility, obesity, a stiff tail, and old age can make the chance for infection higher. This can cause a big problem for your dog, so you should make sure to clean it properly at least once a week.

Here is how you can clean the English Bulldog tail pocket: 

  • Use a moist paper towel or a cleaning wipe to clean the area of dirt and grime. Do this gently and carefully because this area is sensitive.
  • Dry the area with a dry paper towel or an absorbent tissue to absorb any moisture in the place. This will stop the bacteria from piling up.
  • Use a diaper rash ointment to protect the pocket from infections.
  • Make sure to keep the area dry. You can apply a medicated powder if the area becomes infected and moist.

If you feel like you are not properly cleaning the dog, consult your vet. You can also let your dog groomer know that you want the area cleaned so they will do that for you.

Adult English bulldog with a tail

What Is Tail Docking?

Tail docking is a procedure that involves cutting off or shortening the English Bulldog natural tail. This might sound very barbaric and traumatizing, but it is a procedure that has been done a long time ago.

Shepherds used to do it because they believed it will stop the spread of rabies among dogs. People who had them as hunting dogs, docked their tails because they wanted to prevent tail injuries. Some people do this procedure simply because of cosmetic purposes. Some dog shows even require this.

There are cases where tail docking is needed. This is usually with English Bulldogs that have corkscrew tails. Because of medical reasons, cutting off the tail may be the best option to keep the dog healthy and safe.

English Bulldogs aren’t the only breed that this procedure is done to. For example, Corgis are also born with a long tail, yet most people know them as having it docked.

Does It Hurt The Dog?

Cutting off the English Bulldog puppy tail will be painful. It is a procedure that involves cutting into muscles, tendons, cartilage, nerves, and bone.

Some breeders lie about the procedures when they say that the puppy hasn’t developed its peripheral nervous system to feel pain. But this is false. Symptoms like loud excessive barking, shrieking, and whining was noticed in the puppies that felt a lot of pain.

Tail docking can also result in forming a chronic neuroma on the site of amputation. This is a tumor of the nerves that can cause a lot of chronic pain to your pup.

Another thing to mention is that by cutting off the tail you remove an important part of the dog. The tail is used as a communication tool and for swimming.

If you decide on doing this procedure, do not do it yourself. Contact your vet and make sure it is done with anesthesia.

This procedure is illegal in most countries of Europe, including the UK. However, it is not illegal in the USA. Only a few states prohibit tail docking.

The English Bulldog With A Tail – Final Thoughts

English Bulldogs are born with tails and most of them have them throughout their lives. There are a few tail types that can be found. These are the straight, curly, corkscrew, and long and wavy tails. Out of these, the straight and corkscrew tails are the most desirable. The curly is the least desirable type of tail.

There are some health issues common with the corkscrew tail. Diseases like tail fold pyoderma happen because of a lack of hygiene. Spinal malformations like spina bifida and thoracic vertebral canal stenosis are congenital.

Because of those, you need to make sure you keep proper hygiene of your dog. You can also consider tail docking if there are spinal malformations that cause pain for your dog. Make sure this procedure is done by a professional veterinarian, and only because it is helping your pup.


Can English Bulldogs wag their tails?

An English Bulldog with a full tail can wag it to show affection and excitement. This is especially noticeable if they have long and wavy tails. The short and the corkscrew tails are much harder to wag.

At what age do puppies get their tails docked?

Tail docking is done at the age of 3-5 days. Some people say that at this time the puppy still doesn’t feel pain because it hasn’t developed its peripheral neural system. But this is completely false.

How long does it take for a tail dock to heal?

If done by a veterinarian, the stitches need to be removed after 5-7 days. After this, you would still need to take care of the wound for a while.

What type of tail is the standard for the AKC?

You should have an English Bulldog with a tail that is straight or corkscrewed. It needs to be short, hung low, with a thick root and fine tip. If straight, it should be cylindrical and of uniform taper. If corkscrewed it shouldn’t be elevated above the base.

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