Are English Bulldogs Born With a Tail Or Are They Docked?

Though many find the Bulldog’s appearance slightly frightening or even unappealing, their nature is far from frightening. In fact, many English Bulldog owners call these dogs gentle, loving, and loyal companions fit for a family with children. 

Enough about their character, what about their appearance, particularly their tails! 

All English Bulldogs are born with a tail. Their tail can have one of four appearances. Only in rare conditions due to health risks, their tail may be docked on the advice of a vet. 

Let us elaborate on what we mean. 

Do English Bulldogs Have Tails? 

Although you may have seen an English Bulldog without a tail, all are born with a tail. An absent tail is probably due to docking.

Sometimes illusions give the impression that there isn’t a tail. But, there is always one lying closely behind their rear. 

All dog breeds have tails, and if they lack a tail it is due to a process called docking. The tail of an English Bulldog rarely undergoes docking. But, when an owner opts for docking, it is for an important health purpose and the well-being of the dog only.  

The tail of an English Bulldog is unique. They come in a wide variety of appearances in both length and form. Let’s take a look at some of the tails an English Bulldog can have. 

Check out some facts about the Lilac English Bulldog. 

What Tail Can English Bulldogs Have?

English Bulldogs can have any tail from four unique tail types. Within a single litter of this breed, there can be variations of tails between the puppies. In fact, while they are still puppies, their tails will start to show their true shape and characteristics. 

Here are the types of tails you are likely to find on an English Bulldog. 

Straight Tail

English Bulldogs with straight tails are very common. Note these tails are not very long, instead they are short but straight. Their shortish length makes it appear as if their tails have experienced cropping.

The AKC recognizes this type of tail as one of the standards for this dog breed.  

Straight tails are soft while the dog is young but stiffens as he gets old, making movement slightly difficult in old age. 

Corkscrew Tail

The corkscrew is one tail that most owners would love to see on their dog since the American Kennel Club endorses it.

This tail curls inwards from the point at which it connects to the body, getting curlier as it grows. As the dog grows so does the tail, eventually, it can be distinguished as a cinnamon roll attached to your dog’s rear.

At birth and throughout puppyhood, the tail remains soft and flexible, and easy to wave. But, as the dog begins to age the tail slowly loses its softness and its ability to easily move about. This causes problems and he will require your help with hygiene. 

The tail can swipe against the anal area and initiate a range of issues. 

Long and Wavy Tail

Bulldogs can be born with a naturally long and somewhat wavy (curly) tail. But, be aware that many dog associations consider this type of tail a serious fault! You might not be able to win any dog shows with this type of tail.

Even though a dog has a different tail doesn’t mean it’s any different than its siblings with the standard type of tail. 

No Tail! 

Another scenario is where an English Bulldog lacks any form of tail at all! In this case, tail removal is evident. It is safe to say docking is the culprit for the lack of tail. Docking is a medical procedure to remove the tail completely.

Although this procedure is usually cosmetic and done to enhance the appearance of the dog, it is not the case with the Bulldog breed. A Bulldog undergoes docking exclusively for health reasons. 

Docking: What is It?

The word docking may be new to some people.

Docking is an age-old tradition of purposely cutting off a dog’s tail. It usually takes place a few weeks after birth without any pain medication. If an adult dog is docked, there has to be pain medication involved. 

This tradition was started almost 200 years ago to distinguish between working dogs and companion dogs. This is because owners of working dogs were exempt from paying certain taxes. Clearly, there was a need to distinguish between working dogs and companion dogs. 

Also, farmers would turn to dock in cases when a dog’s tail would hinder its ability to do its job or risk injury during work.

Today, the docking process is purely cosmetic and done to keep up a dog’s appearance.

Researchers have come to the conclusion that a working dog’s tail is not at risk when working. Therefore a dog should be able to keep its tail. But, many still continue the tradition of docking anyway. 

However, there are some exceptions to the rule. The English Bulldog is one such dog that may need his tail docked for a very important reason. 

Why Docking Is A Last Case Scenario For English Bulldogs

Docking paints a traumatizing image of a dog losing its tail and the pain associated with the medical procedure. It should be the last resort. The reason being that a dog really needs his tail, it is naturally a part of him! 

A tail acts as a communication tool, helping a dog express what emotion he is feeling. Happy when his tail is wagging, in fear when his tail is low or tucked between his legs. Without such indicators, how will you know what emotion your dog is feeling? 

That’s not it. Dogs that are enthusiastic about swimming leverage the help of their tails. Without their tail, they might not be as athletic as they could be. This poses a threat and disadvantage to your dog.


Should I Get My English Bulldog Docked?

Occasionally, you may get the chance to see an English Bulldog without his tail. Before you think the worst, it was probably done for his own good!

English Bulldogs are prone to getting infections from having a corkscrew tail. As they age, it becomes very tough to move their tails around. While using the toilet, their tails can act as a way for bacteria to enter the anal area. 

Thus, high chances for infections exist in aged English Bulldogs with stiff corkscrew tails. In this case, a vet will start suggesting docking if infections are occurring too frequently. 

Furthermore, Bulldogs are at increased risk of getting infections due to their inability to clean their tail pockets.

This requires attention every time they use the bathroom! This is something a prospective Bulldog owner must carefully think about before getting this dog. 

Why Are Dogs Docked? The Truth

We know why English Bulldogs might be docked, but why are other dog breeds commonly docked just after birth? Well, because they think the dog looks better without a tail.

Certain dog shows penalize certain breeds for having a tail. This is because the breed standards state having a tail is a ‘serious fault’. So, people who are serious about dog shows and competitions adhere to breed standards, most often requiring docked dogs. 

This means in order for docking to stop, dog associations must change their breed standards to effect real change. No matter what people say, we believe docking is a primitive and unnecessary action that a dog must not suffer for. 

Do Dogs Feel Pain During Docking?

Tails are a part of their body having tissues, so yes there is pain!

A puppy, getting docked will still feel it. Even more so since pain medication is not used on puppies during docking.

Breeders who say there is no pain during the process just do so to not draw attention to the whole docking debate. They say that the nerves in the tail region are not fully functional.

This is false! Scientists say that the nervous system is fully developed at birth. Meaning a dog can feel pain as soon as he is born. 

Your English Bulldog may end up with a docking appointment due to medical complications.

What Are Tail Pockets?

Tail pockets are a small flap of skin present below the Bulldog’s tail. A stiff tail, diminished mobility, obesity, and old age are all factors reducing a dog’s ability to clean this area. 

Eventually, it becomes the owner’s job to make sure this area is always clean, especially after he has used the toilet. Failure to keep this tail pocket clean mostly results in an infection of sorts. You will then need to consult a vet for medication and advice. 

Despite the occurrence of tail pockets, there is much to enjoy about the Bulldog. It even features on our list of 10 Most Popular Wrinkle Dogs. 


Do all English Bulldogs have tail pockets?

No, all English Bulldogs do not have tail pockets. It is not possible to distinguish the presence of these pockets in a puppy. Over time they will or will not develop, it is a 50/50 chance that an English Bulldog puppy will or won’t develop them.

But, even if they do develop you should maintain hygiene to avoid possible health risks. The last resort is docking when the tail becomes stiff. 

Should a Bulldog have a tail? 

Yes, every dog should get a chance to flaunt his natural tail. Only in rare cases when the tail is at risk of injury or poses a threat to health, should docking be an option.

But, the use of docking for cosmetic appearance enhancements is not recommended.

Are French Bulldogs born with tails?

Yes, French Bulldogs are born with tails. The fact that they are so short or curled makes it appear as if they were docked! Their tails are naturally like this and are no cause for concern.

Their short tails may be an in-bred feature from the days of the creation of this designer dog breed.