Even though docking was a historic practice that was used among some types of pedigree dogs, it is a common misconception that this is used for French bulldogs. This adorable breed is well known for having shorter tails, and it even serves as part of their charm to see those little stumps wagging.
But are French bulldogs born with tails? And do French bulldogs have these tails docked when they are born? The good news is that there’s no need to panic.
Despite popular belief, Frenchies are actually naturally born with a much smaller tail. They don’t have the longer tail that we associate with other breeds of dog. In fact, French bulldogs tend to have smaller tails which appear stump like on their rump.
These smaller tails can sometimes appear to have different shapes, including corkscrews, curves, or even appear straight. Whereas other breeds would need to have their tails docked to reach this smaller stature, this small stump is a naturally occurring feature of the French bulldog breed.
Does A French Bulldog Even Have A Tail?
The short answer is that yes, French bulldogs do actually have a tail. It’s just quite a lot shorter than you might be expecting. Whereas other dogs would need to have their tails docked for cosmetic reasons in order to achieve this, Frenchies don’t need this procedure at all.
There are actually 3 main types of French bulldog tail that you can encounter. They can either be in a corkscrew shape, have a thick base which tapers down to a smaller tip, or appear more stump-like and have a straight appearance.
These are all considered to be classic versions of a Frenchie’s tail. So even though they’re not the long, swishy versions that we might associate with a breed such as a Labrador, they are still classed as tails. They are just slightly different types of tails to what you may be accustomed to with other breeds.
So Are French bulldogs Born Without Tails Or With Tails?
So we now know that Frenchies are indeed born with tails – these tails just look slightly different to what you might be expecting. Not every dog is born with a super long tail.
This smaller, stumpier tail associated with French bulldogs is just a natural byproduct of the selective breeding process.
This means that French bulldogs have been bred to have these smaller tails. At some point in their ancestral history, a French bulldog was born with a naturally stumpy tail.
This particular dog would have then been bred to make this the more popular tail gene. This selective breeding made the shorter tail one of the trademark breed standards for Frenchies.
So even though you may be worried that your Frenchie has had their tail docked, we can reassure you that this simply isn’t the case. Your French bulldog has just been born with a naturally short and adorable tail!
Do French Bulldogs Suffer From Health Issues Because Of Their Tails?
As with all pedigree dog breeds, a French bulldog can encounter certain health issues. Sadly, some of these can be caused by that shorter, stumpy tail. According to several veterinary studies, the bones of the tail won’t always align in the correct position with the French bulldog’s spine.
It can even cause the dog pain depending on the formation of the tail itself, giving a certain instability to the dog’s spine. It can even manifest as painful nerve damage. Unfortunately this is a genetic condition that can sometimes occur if the breeder was attempting to selectively breed a tail that was more in the shape of a screw.
This is why the Kennel Club in the UK launched a scheme way back in 2010 to try to eliminate this issue. They wanted breeders to move away from the corkscrew tail, and instead stick to the straighter stumpy tail for French bulldogs.
This is because the tail that is more screw-like is actually a defect from inbreeding further down the Frenchie line. This can cause those painful spine issues that we mentioned more above. The whole point of a tail, of course, is that it stabilizes your dog as they walk, run, and play.
Tails can also give the rear muscles of a dog more support, so it can lead to issues such as hernias, dilation of their rectum, or even incontinence if there isn’t a proper amount of tail in place.
By selectively breeding Frenchies to have a straighter tail, this will then ensure that future French bulldogs don’t suffer. America is behind the UK in terms of this initiative, but it has also been introduced all over Europe.
In fact, this short drop tail was actually one of the breed standards for Frenchies before the appearance of this shorter corkscrew tail. The aim of the UK Kennel Club scheme is to return French bulldogs to a healthier breed and avoid these painful defects in the future.
So How Come French Bulldogs Have Shorter Tails?
It may be confusing to look back at some historical photos of French bulldogs from the 1800s for example and see that they had a slightly more noticeable tail. So how come Frenchies suddenly have a much smaller tail in modern days that can sometimes give people the impression that these tails might have been docked?
The main reason is thought to be because the French bulldog breeds were used for ratting. They would have needed to be bred with a much smaller tail to avoid any potential bites from vermin, as well as to make them even faster for catching these pests.
So as Frenchies have slowly transitioned away from working life over time, the smaller tail has remained mostly for aesthetic reasons. As we have mentioned in more detail above, this would have been achieved through selective breeding.
It’s pretty easy to see why people would mistakenly think that such a short, stocky tail would have been achieved through docking. This is achieved with other breeds such as Dobermans, although it is very much frowned upon nowadays, because it is a procedure that serves no purpose.
People will only dock their dog’s tail for cosmetic reasons, and this can be a very painful process for the dog involved. It is often done without any pain relief such as anesthetic, too, so is very stressful for the puppy.
If you are the owner of a beloved Frenchie, you can confidently tell any nosy bystander that no, your pet’s tail hasn’t been docked – they have actually been born that way.
Do French Bulldogs’ Tails Get Docked At Birth?
No, French bulldog’s tails do not get docked at birth. As we have already discussed in more detail above, they are naturally born with shorter tails.
However, because this has now become seen as a standard of the breed, some irresponsible breeders may have some cosmetic work done on the dog’s tail to give it the classic appearance that they are after.
It’s important to note that only a small few feels the need to customize their Frenchie puppy’s tail in this manner. It is in no way the standard, and for the vast majority of Frenchies, their tails have been left in its natural state.
It will be super easy to tell whether your dog’s tail has been docked. All you need to do is gently feel the top of your pet’s tail. If there doesn’t appear to be a pointy bone at the end, it could indicate that your pet has had their tail docked.
But for the vast majority of Frenchies, they will just have a naturally smaller stump.
Are French Bulldogs Able To Wag Their Smaller Tails?
Yes, French bulldogs are able to wag their tails! The only thing to note is that it won’t look as obvious as it does with other dogs. It may appear to be more of a butt wiggle, but you should noticeably see the little stumpy tail moving enthusiastically.
So the key to working out whether your Frenchie is wagging their tail will be to keep an eagle eye open. Especially if they have a super short stump for a tail. If they have a straight tail it will be far more obvious as to when your dog is attempting to wag their tail. Thanks to the straight tail giving your dog more tail to wag, it will be hard to miss their expression of happiness.
There’s no need to feel sad though just because your dog doesn’t have a super long tail that they can wag. Your Frenchie will also show their affection in many other ways, including licking you or trying to get close to you when you’re sitting down on the couch.
A key way to look at this will be that their stumpy tail just gives your Frenchie more character.
Why Would A Dog’s Tail Be Docked?
So now that we’ve gotten that whole business out of the way – that French bulldogs don’t have their tails docked – you may be wondering as to why this is such a controversial practice in the first place.
We did cover this a little above, but we wanted to go into docking in more detail so that we can get a better idea of why it is frowned upon and even illegal in some places around the world.
The main reason as to why docking is performed is purely for aesthetic or cosmetic reasons. This means that because a certain breed standard has been set by pedigree breeders and organizations surrounding pedigree breeds, some breeders see docking as a way to make a dog look a certain way.
So while it is good news that this isn’t performed on French bulldogs, some breeders do feel the need to do this for other breeds. It is illegal in some states, and typically has to be performed by a qualified veterinary surgeon.
However, some breeders try to get around the laws surrounding docking to get their dog to look how they feel they should look. There are some exceptions. Some working dogs such as Rottweilers and Dobermans can have their tails docked for working reasons.
For example, if they are guard dogs, having their tails docked can prevent these full length tails from being grabbed by assailants. Tail docking can also help “working” dogs to avoid other types of tail related injury while they are working.
Some despicable breeders will try to lie and say this is why they need to have a puppy’s tail docked. But if the dog isn’t intended to be a working dog, there is no need to cause the pup such unnecessary stress.
Is It Painful To Have A Tail Docked?
Yes, it is a painful procedure for a tail to be docked. Some breeders believe that the dog doesn’t feel any pain during the docking process because they are too young for nerves to have developed properly.
However, this isn’t the case, and the dog can be put through a lot of pain if this procedure were to be performed without anesthesia. So if your dog ever has any medical reason as to why they would need their tail docked, it should always be completed by a professional veterinary surgeon who can use the proper equipment.
As the Australian RSPCA states on their website, a dog’s nervous system is fully developed at birth. So the assumption that because a puppy is young that they won’t feel any pain is absolutely false.
Unless docking needs to be performed for medical reasons or working reasons on certain breeds of dog, it is very much frowned upon for other breeds, including Frenchies.
The good news is that because they have naturally short tails, French bulldogs don’t have to go through this process.
What Does The Law Say About Tail Docking?
When it comes to the law, things get a bit tricky. Sadly here in the US, tail docking hasn’t been made illegal in every state just yet.
There are some regulations in some states, which is certainly better than nothing, but unfortunately this cruel practice is still allowed to be practiced across the vast majority of America.
As we have already discussed above, this isn’t performed for any practical reason. It is performed by irresponsible breeders who feel that a dog should look a certain way.
The even sadder thing about the law in America is that it doesn’t specify that tail docking has to be performed by a veterinary surgeon. Some breeders take things into their own hands, and try to use the rubber band method to quicken the process.
This involves placing a rubber band around the base of the dog’s tail, allowing the pressure from the band to cut off the blood flow, until the tail falls off of its own accord.
There is some good news, though. Some states such as New York and Vermont are trying to consider bills which would make the practice illegal.
Elsewhere in the world, tail docking has thankfully been made illegal. This includes in countries like the UK, as well as several other countries across Europe.
There are some restrictions in Canada, but sadly those restrictions haven’t reached an outright ban just yet.
Hopefully this is something that will be considered in the future for other areas around the world so that the cruel practice can be stopped. The good news is that tail docking doesn’t happen to Frenchies, because they naturally have much shorter tails.
But it is something that certainly needs to be banned for other breeds unless it is being performed for medical reasons to prevent a dog from being in pain.
So there you have it! You now know all there is to know about French bulldogs and their smaller tails. Even though there is a common misconception that French bulldogs have their tails docked at birth, this isn’t actually the case.
They just have naturally smaller tails, similar to the British bulldog breed or other naturally short tailed breeds such as terriers and pugs.
French bulldogs do actually have tails – these are just much shorter than you might think. This is all down to selective breeding, with smaller, shorter tails being bred into the breed as standard over time.
There are actually three different types of tail that a French bulldog can have, with the straight tail being preferred to avoid any spinal injuries.
Even though tail docking is a cruel practice, you won’t have to worry about this procedure having been carried out on your Frenchie!