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Should English Bulldogs Be Born With Tails Or Should They Be Docked?

By Kerry
Updated on

If you have ever seen an English Bulldog, then you might have wondered if their tail has been docked or if they were born this way.

French bulldogs tail

Something that you should know when it comes to answering this question is that tail docking is actually illegal in both the US and the UK. This is a painful process that should never be forced upon any dog.

You may also wonder if they were simply born without a tail, which is another commonly asked question regarding English Bulldogs. There is actually a good explanation for the way that English Bulldogs are, which we are going to explain for you here.

In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about English Bulldogs and their tails, so you can find all of the answers to the questions you have been asking. Just keep reading to find out more.

Are English Bulldogs Born With Their Tails?

Yes, English Bulldogs are born with tails, but each Bulldog can have different kinds of tails. Some of these dogs will have short tails that hang low and follow the spine’s natural curve downwards. However, other English Bulldogs will have smaller corkscrew tails or straighter tails.

There are even some that will have longer and wavier tails. Sometimes, their tails can indicate whether they are a mixed breed, which is often the case for those with curly tails.

Do English Bulldogs Have Their Tails Docked?

No, generally, English Bulldogs do not have their tails docked, and the short stub or corkscrew of a tail that you can see is completely normal. This is the most common type of tail that an English Bulldog will have at birth, but it is not uncommon for them to have different types of tails too.

The main reason why people often think that English Bulldogs have their tails docked is that they appear to be very short and stubby. This leads people to think that the tail has been docked for cosmetic reasons, but this isn’t true.

Can English Bulldogs Have Long Tails?

English Bulldogs can have long tails, but there is a lot of variety in how they can look. Some of them will have short stubby tails, and some can have longer tails that look much more like the tails of other dogs. Essentially, all dogs will have tails, but the way in which they present themselves can be very different.

So, English Bulldogs can have longer tails, but the main reason for this is the way that they have been bred. These dogs are much more likely to have longer tails if they have been cross-bred, although this isn’t always the reason for this.

Many English Bulldogs will develop longer tails when they are bred with other dog breeds.

Even though the majority of people will look for an English Dog with a stub tail, this is not the only type of tail that is normal. Nothing is to worry about if your English Bulldog has a longer tail.

The tails of the dog can also depend on the shape and size of the dog, but you may even come across English Bulldogs that do not have a tail at all. This can be due to tail docking that has occurred strictly for medical purposes.

What You Need To Know About English Bulldogs And Their Tails

English bulldogs tail

More often than not, English Bulldogs will be born with very short tails. However, the size and shape of the dog can influence the type of tail that they will have.

We typically think of English Bulldogs as having short tails, but 3 different tail types are quite common for English Bulldogs to be born with. We will list them down below for you to read about.

Straight Tails

The straight tail is also sometimes called the pump-handle tail, which is a short tail that hangs low and will taper down to a point. This is the most common tail for English Bulldogs, and it is considered desirable by the American Kennel Club.

However, some tails will be set higher and curve upwards, although the AKC considers this a fault. However, it is still normal and healthy.

Corkscrew Tails

The corkscrew tail is another prevalent type of tail for English Bulldogs to have, and this type of tail will wrap in a corkscrew shape that heads in a downward direction.

These tails are quite flexible when it comes to movement in puppies, but when the dog starts to grow older, the tail will become more stiff and fixed.

Wavy Long Tails

Although they are usually quite rare and are thought to be a fault in the eyes of breeders, the long and wavy tail can be better for a dog than the corkscrew tail. This is because it is made easier for the dog to wag their tail.

All English Bulldogs will be different, just like people, and this means that even these 3 types of tails can present themselves in different ways. English Bulldogs can have tails of all different shapes and sizes, and many of them are perfectly normal.

What Does Tail Docking Mean?

It is essential to be aware of tail docking and what it means, as it is still a topic of conversation today, and it is something that everyone should be aware of. Tail docking is a medical procedure that involves cutting the tail so that it is shorter or completely removing the dog’s tail.

This can be for medical reasons at times, but many people do this simply for cosmetic reasons, which is completely unacceptable. This is why it is illegal in many countries if it is only done for cosmetic reasons.

English Bulldogs have been overbred in the past, which is why they can suffer from various health problems. Sometimes, their short tails can be the thing that is causing the problem.

When an English Bulldog is growing larger, a corkscrew tail will become stiffer and turn into a bun shape that will sit against the top of their rum.

If this bun becomes too tight, it is possible for infections to occur, which can lead to sores and various other skin problems. As well as this, it can be generally uncomfortable or painful for your dog.

This is an example of a time when your vet may recommend tail docking to help prevent any future health problems and discomfort for your dog.

Tail docking is only legal if your dog has medical issues that can be prevented through this procedure. It should only ever be done for medical reasons and never for cosmetic purposes.

If your English Bulldog does not have any health issues when it comes to its tail, then it should never be docked. This is because tail docking is something that can be extremely painful and stressful for your dogs.

As well as this, the procedure can affect their overall mood and their ability to balance. Even tail docking for medical purposes is something that should be greatly considered before you go ahead.

Why Do People Dock Their Dog’s Tails?

Tail docking is actually something that is quite a modern concept, and the earliest evidence of tail docking dates back to Ancient Roman times. People also used to dock the tails of shepherds back in the day to help stop the spread of rabies, although it is not entirely known how they came to this conclusion.

More modernly, the tails of hunting dogs were sometimes docked to decrease the chances of them becoming injured. This does make a little bit more sense than the previous reason, but it isn’t something that was entirely necessary.

Another reason why some people have chosen to dock their dogs’ tails in the past is due to cosmetic reasons. This is when the breeder of the dog wants to create a dog that looks better than it did before. This was something that could have been done by a vet, but sometimes, even more, unethical methods were used.

Some people used to tie an elastic band around the bottom of the tail to cut off the blood supply to this area. Eventually, the tail would die, but this would have been an excruciatingly painful process for the dog.

Is Tail Docking Painful?

Some people today would argue that when tail docking is done to puppies, their nervous systems are not yet developed enough for them to feel the pain of the process. However, the majority of people would disagree with this.

The RSPCA themselves have stated that a dog’s nervous system is fully developed when they are born, and this means that puppies have a very similar sensitivity to pain as adult dogs do. When a dog’s tail is docked, the process will involve cutting through muscle, tendons, bone, cartilage, and various sensitive nerves.

Puppies have been known to yelp and are very vocal during and after this process, which means that they are experiencing a great deal of pain. While the wound is healing, the dog will also experience inflammation and pain as the wound is healing.

Tail docking also leads to a high risk of infection and other medical complications, and it is totally unnecessary.

Ultimately, tail docking can lead to avoidable and unnecessary long-term chronic pain and distress. Many things can go wrong during or after the process, and this can have a big impact on a dog’s quality of life.

These reasons are why tail docking is illegal in many countries and is a completely unethical process.

UK and US Laws On Tail Docking

Tail docking is illegal in the United Kingdom and the United States, apart from certain working dog breeds. It is illegal to dock the tail of an English Bulldog for cosmetic reasons, and the same applies to most breeds of dogs.

It is also a practice that is illegal in various other countries, but unfortunately, it is still legal in some places.

What Issues Can English Bulldogs Have With Their Tails?

As we have already mentioned, due to the breeding history of the English Bulldog, they are more likely to develop certain health conditions, mostly to do with breathing difficulties, joint problems, and skin conditions.

However, one of the most common health problems for English Bulldogs to experience is down to their tails. The shortness and curliness of their tails will eventually go stiff and will not be able to be moved.

This means that English Bulldogs are at a higher risk of developing infections in the folds of their skin. These areas are challenging to clean, and this is an issue that can occur multiple times.

As well as this, the anal glands of this breed can be compacted tightly, which can lead to things like pain and bad smells. This is something that can need medical treatment by a vet.

Something else that can be an issue is the tail pockets, which are the flap of skin that will fold underneath the tail. Dirt and debris can collect in this area, and it can lead to an infection if it is not cleaned properly.

Some other common health issues that are related to the tail include screw tails, ingrown tails, dermatitis, and intertrigo. The majority of the problems that we have listed are caused by the tightness of the folds of the skin, which will collect dirt and moisture and lead to infections and fungal growth.

Many of these conditions can be treated with antiseptic creams, but they can keep occurring.

What Is a Tail Pocket?

Not all English Bulldogs will have a tail pocket, but for those that do, the tail pocket is a flap of skin that can be found below the tail. They are most visible between when they are first born and when they are a couple of months old. The tail pocket will be there for the dog’s whole life.

Just like any other bits of skin, the tail pocket can collect things like dirt, debris, and dead skin. As this area is not in the most visible of places, it is often forgotten about when it comes to grooming and cleaning this breed. This means that an infection can develop, which can lead to pain and sensitivity.

This is why it is important to ensure that you keep your dog’s tail pocket clean if they have one.

While dogs do clean themselves, they might not be able to access this area, so it becomes your responsibility to keep it clean. You can do this by washing the area with soap and water around once every week.

You will also need to make sure that you completely dry the area to prevent moisture from lingering in the area and causing an infection.

You will also need to clean underneath your dog’s tail, especially if they can’t reach the area. If you take your dog to a groomer for these things, then you should ensure that they keep on top of this.

If you think that your English Bulldog has a tail pocket infection, you should take them to see a vet as it will need to be treated.

Are American Bulldogs Born With Tails?

Just in case you were wondering if the same applies to American Bulldogs, you might be interested to learn that their tails are quite different from English Bulldogs. American Bulldogs are bigger and taller than English Bulldogs and have longer legs and muzzles.

Although most English Bulldogs will have shorter tails, this is not the case for American Bulldogs, who usually have longer and more powerful tails. Their tails are usually thicker at the base, and they will taper to a point.

The tail of an American Bulldog will usually be shaped like a pump handle, and they will hang low normally, but they are often raised if the dog becomes happy or excited.

So, American Bulldogs have a more classic style of the tail, unlike the English Bulldog. You can easily tell the difference between their tails by looking at these two dog breeds. Although, some American Bulldogs have curled tails that will curl up over their backs.

However, just like with other breeds, the curled tails are not as desirable when it comes to showing dogs, but they are still perfectly normal and healthy for the dog to have.


Now you know that English Bulldogs do have tails, but they are not always the same as other breeds of dogs. They can come in various shapes and sizes depending on the individual, and while some English Bulldogs have longer tails, others will have shorter and stubbier tails.

So, while it may appear that their tails have been docked, this isn’t always the case, although it can be if the tail needs to be docked for medical reasons. There are many definitions of normal when it comes to the tail of the English Bulldog.


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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.