Ever looked at a Frenchie’s butt and wondered ‘do French Bulldogs have tails?’ In this article we take a thorough look at the French Bulldog butt, and some facts you need to know about their tails.
French Bulldogs have naturally short tails which may be straight, or corkscrewed. The anatomy of their tail makes them prone to a range of health problems, which potential owners ought to be aware of.
Do French Bulldogs Have Tails When Born?
Let’s start with the basics: are French Bulldogs born with tails? And the answer is yes, they are. French Bulldogs are born with naturally short tails. Most dogs have 18 to 23 tail bones, which are an extension of the vertebrae in their spine. But French Bulldogs have as few as nine, so their tail is very short.
French Bulldog Tail Structure
According to the American Kennel Club’s breed standard for the Frenchie, their tails should be straight or screwed, but never curly. Straight tails start thick at the base and taper towards the tip. Screw tails have a series of tight bends in them, so that they sit like a cinnamon roll below the root. When Frenchie puppies with screw tails are born, their tails are supple enough to be gently unrolled. But as they mature, they set in place in a tight bun.
In the UK, the Kennel Club breed standard for Frenchies prefers only straight tails since 2010. This is a wise change for the welfare of the breed, and we’ll look at why in a moment.
Do French Bulldogs Have Docked Tails?
French Bulldogs do not usually have their tails docked. Tail docking started out as a way of protecting working dogs from tail injuries, but Frenchies have no working history. When taxes were introduced on pet dogs, docking some pet breeds in order to pass them off as working dogs became popular too. Later, tail docking remained popular in these breeds as part of maintaining a ‘traditional’ aesthetic. However, more recently, tail docking has fallen out of favor again, because it can be painful and it is rarely in dogs’ best interests.
What Do French Bulldogs Have Their Tails Docked?
French Bulldogs do not traditionally have their tails docked, but some do end up requiring surgical tail amputation for medical reasons. Which isn’t quite the same thing, but the results can look the same to a casual observer.
Frenchie dogs without tails
The anatomy of the Frenchie tail means that their tail sits flush against the skin on their butt, creating a pocket underneath. This makes them vulnerable to a condition called intertrigo. Intertrigo is when two skin surfaces rub together, causing irritation and inflammation. The damaged skin becomes an entry point for bacteria, causing a tail pocket infection. Some French Bulldog tail pocket infections can be treated with antibiotics, but severe or recurring infections can only be resolved by removing the tail altogether.
Do French Bulldogs Have Long Tails?
No Bulldogs have tails as long as, say, a Labrador or a Golden Retriever. But, Some French Bulldogs have straight tails, which naturally appear longer than a tail with a series of tight kinks in it. The frequency of the two French Bulldog tail types depends partly on your region. In the USA, both types are allowed, and there’s no requirement for a straight tail to be a minimum length. So breeding lines with screw tails or ultra short straight tails tend to be popular because they are ‘cute’.
In the UK, not only should their tails be straight as previously mentioned, but the breed standard also says it ought to be long enough to cover the anus. This minimum length requirement isn’t just about looks, it’s good for their health too. We’ve already touched on this before, so now let’s look more closely at how having a corkscrew tail affects Frenchie health.
Health Concerns of Frenchie Dogs With Short Tails
Unfortunately, there are numerous complications associated with screw tails, the most notable of which are hemivertebrae and spina bifida.
Hemivertebrae are misshapen bones in the tail and the base of the spine. The change in shape can result in pressure on the spinal cord, which affects dogs’ control of their back legs and/or bladder and bowel. Hemivertebrae are widespread among French Bulldogs, and highly heritable. Which means the puppies of affected dogs are likely to be affected too. Which is why removing screwtail Frenchies from breeding programmes and making straight tailed dogs the most acceptable and desirable option is the surest way to securing the future health of the breed.
Spina bifida is when the spinal cord doesn’t develop properly in the womb. Like hemivertebrae, spina bifida can result in lameness and incontinence. Both conditions are expensive and difficult to treat, and cause a whole lot of heart ache. You can read more the health problems associated with screw tails in this article.
Health Problem Associated With Flat Faces
Even though we have mostly focussed on the Frenchie butt in this article, it would be wrong not to also mention the problems many Frenchies experience at the other end of their body. In fact, the two are actually linked, because screw tails and hemivertebrae are closely associated with flat faced dog breeds including Frenchies, English Bulldogs, Pugs and Boston Terriers. An extremely flat face with a very short muzzle is also described as being ‘brachycephalic’.
Brachycephalic faces put dogs are risk of:
- Obstruction of their airways caused by a normal muzzle’s worth of soft tissue being squeezed into a much smaller bone structure.
- Heat stroke caused by the difficulty breathing.
- Dental problems.
- Damage to the surface of the eyes because the sockets are shallow and the eyeballs protrude from them.
- Infections in the wrinkled skin over their nose and brow.
Elsewhere in their bodies, brachycephalic dogs like Frenchies also have higher than average frequencies of gastrointestinal problems, skin diseases, and difficulties giving birth. For all these reasons, unfortunately we do not recommend flat faced dogs including French Bulldogs as pets.
Frenchie Tail Summary
French Bulldogs are in fact born with tails, but they are short and inconspicuous. The two Frenchie tail types are straight and corkscrew. Owing to the health problems associated with corkscrew tails, some breeders and breed clubs are making a conscious decision to move away from them and focus on breeding lines with straight tails.
What do you think? Would you prefer to see more Frenchies with longer, straighter tails? Let us know in the comments box down below!
Alternative Dogs With Short Tails
Unfortunately the best known dogs with short tails, such as Pugs and Bulldogs, share many of the same health problems as the unlucky Frenchie. The handsome Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a well known alternative with a naturally short tail and a normal length muzzle. But as a renowned herding dog, it’s temperament is very different! Here are three other less well known breeds, which can all be born with naturally short tails.
- Australian Stumpy Cattle Dog
- Braque do Bourbonnais
- Brittany Spaniel
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French Bulldog Breed Standard. Kennel Club. 2021.
Gutierrez-Quintana & De Decker. Tail end of the brachycephalic problem: diagnostic and treatment options for spinal malformations. InPractice. 2021.
Kaye et al. Relationship between brachycephalic airway syndrome and gastrointestinal signs in three breeds of dog. Journal of Small Animal Practice. 2018.
Ladlow et al. Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome. Vet Record. 2018.
Official Standard of the French Bulldog. American Kennel Club. 2018.
Paterson. Nursing intertrigo in the dog. The Veterinary Nurse. 2018.
Penderis. Congenital vertebral abnormalities associated with screw tail conformation. BSAVA Congress Proceedings. 2018.
Schlensker & Distal. Heritability of hemivertebrae in the French bulldog using an animal threshold model. The Veterinary Journal. 2016.