Why Does Your English Bulldog Have a Long Tail? 3 Types of Tails Explained

The English Bulldog is a gorgeous breed with an adorable personality. They can vary in appearance with many distinguishing features, right down to the shape and size of their tails.

Although it’s more common to see English Bulldogs with small corkscrew tails or straight tails, there are also many cases of them having a long tail.

So, why does your English Bulldog have a long tail? The reason why your English Bulldog has a long tail is mainly the dog’s genetics and breeding. This kind of tail is very rare and even considered faulty by some breeders, however, they are not something to be concerned about and can actually be healthier for the dog than shorter kinds of tails.

Keep reading to learn more about the different kinds of bulldog tails and the common health problems associated with bulldog tails.

Are English Bulldogs Born with Tails?

English Bulldogs are all born with tails but you will typically see a variety in the shape and size of the tail depending on the dog’s genetics and breeding.

Some dogs might have really short tails, while others have medium to long-sized tails. You might even see an English bulldog without a tail at all which could be a result of having their tail docked for a medical or cosmetic reason.

What Are the Different Types of Bulldog Tails?

The standard look of a bulldog’s tail is usually very short and bobbed, however, there are actually three different types of tails that your English Bulldog might be born with.

So, let’s take a closer look at the different types of bulldog tails:

Straight Tails

It is also known as the pump-handle tail.

  • This type of tail is relatively short, low hanging, broad at the base, and usually tapers down to a triangle-shaped point.
  • It’s a very common tail type in bulldogs and is considered very desirable by the American Kennel Club.
  • It’s the most sought-after by pet parents who want to take their Bulldogs to dog shows and competitions.

Corkscrew Tails

  • It is the most common tail type for Bulldogs. It fits the breed’s official standard and is often considered the most adorable type of tail. 
  • This type of tail slopes downward giving the appearance of being wrapped into a corkscrew shape at the base. It doesn’t extend upwards at all.
  • For newborn Bulldogs, the tail can look wrapped but it’s still flexible in nature. However, as the Bulldog grows older, it will stiffen into a hard, fixed, bun-like shape which might make it difficult to clean.

Long or Wavy Tails

  • It’s the rarest tail type for bulldogs and it’s even considered to be faulty by some breeders as it does not fit the breed standard. However, this type of tail can be healthier for a Bulldog compared to other types of tails.
  • It’s the most flexible in nature and free-flowing allowing the dog to wag it a lot easier.

These are more often seen in old English Bulldogges, learn more about them here.

What Are the Common Problems Associated with Bulldog Tails?

Bulldogs with short or wrapped tails are usually prone to various health problems that cause a lot of discomfort and pain.

So, let’s take a look at the most common problems associated with bulldog tails:

Tail Pocket Infection

A tail pocket is a hidden wrinkled flap of skin underneath the dog’s tail and it’s very common with English Bulldogs. It becomes visible once the dog is a few months old and will remain for the rest of the dog’s life.

This area can be very difficult to keep clean which causes dead skin, dirt, and bacteria to build up eventually leading to an infection.

Symptoms of tail pocket infection include red, swollen, and itchy skin around the area which might cause a lot of pain to our dog as well as a distinctive bad odor.

This infection can be prevented by keeping the tail pocket area as clean and dry as possible. Treating the infection will require a lot of antibiotics or even surgery in more severe cases.


Bulldog’s with corkscrew tails are more at risk of a condition known as hemivertebrae. This is a hereditary condition that causes spine issues and impacts the dog’s ability to function.

Symptoms of hemivertebrae include weakness in the dog’s back legs which makes walking very difficult and puts a lot of pressure on the dog’s spinal cord. It might also cause loss of the dog’s bladder functions in more severe cases.

This condition can only be prevented through responsible breeding and can usually be treated through surgery or a tail docking procedure.

Do You Need to Dock Your English Bulldog’s Tail?

English bulldog with docked tail

Tail docking is a medical procedure in which the dog’s tail is either cut short or fully removed. It can be a stressful procedure for dogs as it will affect the dog’s mood and sense of balance.

You don’t always need to dock your bulldog’s tail as the procedure is mostly done at the recommendation of a veterinarian to prevent or treat some of the health issues your dog might face because of its tail.

For example, if your bulldog has a corkscrew tail, it will stiffen into a tight shape causing dirt and bacteria to accumulate and making the dog more prone to infections and other skin issues. So, docking the dog’s tail would be an effective way to prevent this issue.

However, there are also some breeders or owners who choose to dock their dog’s tail for cosmetic purposes.  

How Are Dog Tail Docking Procedures Performed?

Dog tail procedures are performed by using a pair of scissors to cut off the dog’s tail or by tying a rubber band around the tail’s base to stop blood flow so that the tail would eventually drop off.

 It’s usually performed at birth or later on in the dog’s life in case of any health issues.

Is Docking a Dog’s Tail Legal?

Docking a dog’s tail is illegal in both the UK and the United States if it’s done for cosmetic purposes. Since this procedure is very painful and stressful for the dog, it should only ever be for medical reasons and at the recommendation of a trusted veterinarian.

So, if your dog suffers from health problems because of its tail, it’s recommended to take it to a vet and discuss all the pros and cons of the docking procedure before going ahead with it.

Related Questions

How to Take Care of Your English Bulldog’s Tail?

To take care of your English Bulldog’s tail, you need to regularly wipe down any dirt that accumulates on top of the tail using baby wipes or a soft damp cloth. You also need to lift the dog’s tail to reach the tail pocket area underneath and clean it as well. You can apply a soothing balm to prevent any dry skin or itchiness.

Can a Bulldog’s Tail Affect How It Sits and Plays?

A Bulldog’s tail can affect how it sits and plays as dogs rely on their tails for movement and balance. The shape and size of your bulldog’s tail will also determine whether your dog will suffer from health problems in the future. If the dog’s tail causes any severe issues or interferes with daily activities, a tail docking procedure is usually recommended by vets.

How Much Does It Cost to Dock Your Dog’s Tail?

It costs between $10 to $20 on average to dock your dog when it’s young and the cost will increase as the dog gets older. The procedure is also usually paired with the dog’s check-up, which might cost up to $100. If you plan on going through with the tail docking procedure for your dog, it’s recommended to consult a vet first.

 What Is the Official Breed Standard for English Bulldog?

The official breed standard for English Bulldogs includes having blocky heads, flat faces with short muzzles, square undershot jaws with the lower set of teeth poking out, lower rounder chests, and short wrapped tails. These characteristics are what counts in dog competitions as they determine whether the dog is purebred.

Helpful Resources 

Bulldog standards – AKC

Bulldog standards – UKC

Canine Tail Docking FAQ

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