English Bulldogs: Natural Tails or Cosmetic Alterations?

As an English Bulldog owner myself, I’ve often encountered curious passersby wondering if our adorable furry friend had his tail docked. Let me clear things up for you. Tail docking, a painful and now illegal practice, has not been performed on our boy. But the question remains: are English Bulldogs born with tails? The answer is a resounding YES! However, the appearance of their tails can vary significantly. Let’s dive deeper into this interesting topic.

The Natural Variety of English Bulldog Tails

English Bulldogs indeed have tails, although their shapes and lengths differ from dog to dog, making each pup unique. Some may have short tail bobs that follow the curvature of their spines and hang low. Others may sport small corkscrew tails or even straight tails. In rare cases, you might come across an English Bulldog with a longer, wavy tail. However, keep in mind that if you ever see an English Bulldog with a curly or wavy tail, it might indicate that the dog has been bred with another breed.

Myth Busting: Are English Bulldog Tails Docked or Cropped?

Contrary to popular belief, English Bulldog tails are NOT cropped. That adorable stubby or corkscrew tail you see wagging on their wiggly rear end is entirely natural. The misconception arises due to their naturally short and stubby tail appearance, which may lead some to assume they have been deliberately cut for cosmetic reasons. But rest assured, their tails are intact and undocked.

The Tail Length Mystery

Now, let’s shed light on another question: can English Bulldogs have long tails? The answer is YES again. The length of an English Bulldog’s tail can vary due to different breeding factors. Some individuals may have longer tails, which could be a result of crossbreeding. It’s worth noting that a breeder shared their experience of breeding English Bulldogs with tails of various lengths, including stub, long, and corkscrew tails. Ultimately, the tail length is nothing to worry about if your English Bulldog happens to have a longer tail.

Exploring Different Tail Types

English Bulldogs can exhibit three common tail types.

  1. Straight Tails: These tails, also known as pump-handle tails, hang low and taper down to a point. Bulldogs with higher-set straight tails are considered a minor fault but still possess a healthy and natural shape.

  2. Corkscrew Tails: This tail type is widely associated with the breed. As puppies, Bulldogs with corkscrew tails have more flexibility, but as they grow older, their tails stiffen into a fixed, bun-like shape.

  3. Long or Wavy Tails: Although rarer and sometimes viewed as “faulty” by breeders, wavy tails can actually be healthier for Bulldogs compared to corkscrew tails. These wavy tails allow for easier wagging.

It’s important to remember that no two English Bulldogs are the same, meaning their tail shapes and sizes can vary significantly.

The Truth About Tail Docking

Let’s delve deeper into the subject of tail docking. Tail docking involves the partial or complete removal of a dog’s tail, mainly for medical or cosmetic reasons (although cosmetic docking is now illegal in many countries). Unfortunately, due to overbreeding, English Bulldogs often face health issues, with their short tails sometimes causing problems. As Bulldogs grow older, their corkscrew tails can become tightly bunched, leading to infections, skin problems, and general discomfort. Vets may recommend docking to prevent future health issues and provide relief for the dog.

Docking: The Exception, Not the Rule

Yes, there are cases where English Bulldogs’ tails are docked, but this should only occur for medical reasons, never for cosmetic purposes. It’s essential to consider the potential pain and stress caused by tail docking before proceeding with the procedure. Discussing the pros and cons with your vet is highly recommended.

A Historical Perspective on Tail Docking

Tail docking is not a recent trend; its origins can be traced back to Ancient Roman times. Shepherds used to dock tails in an attempt to prevent the spread of rabies, although the efficacy of this method is questionable. In more recent history, hunting dogs had their tails docked to avoid injuries during chases. This decision is understandable, considering that approximately 14% of working dogs sustain tail-related injuries annually. Finally, there is the controversial practice of tail docking for purely cosmetic purposes, where breeders believe it enhances the dog’s appearance. This can be performed by a veterinarian or, more cruelly, by constricting the tail’s base with an elastic band to halt blood flow.

Does Tail Docking Hurt Dogs?

Supporters of tail docking often claim that puppies do not feel pain due to an underdeveloped nervous system. However, the Australian RSPCA suggests otherwise. They state that docking a puppy’s tail involves cutting muscles, tendons, highly sensitive nerves, and severing bone and cartilage connections. This painful procedure is accompanied by intense shrieks from the puppies, indicating significant pain. Inflammation and subsequent tissue damage cause ongoing pain during the healing process. Chronic pain and distress, such as neuroma formation, can also result from tail docking.

Legal Restrictions on Tail Docking

In the United Kingdom and the United States, tail docking for cosmetic purposes is strictly illegal except for certain working breeds. Therefore, docking an English Bulldog’s tail purely for cosmetic reasons is against the law. To illustrate this, I’ve included a helpful graphic highlighting the legal regulations in different countries.

Legal Regulations on Tail Docking

Tail Troubles for English Bulldogs

English Bulldogs, with their unique breeding history, often face various health issues such as breathing difficulties, skin conditions, and hip dysplasia. Tail-related problems are among the common issues that Bulldogs experience. The short length and curl of their tails can cause them to stiffen into immovable masses, making cleaning difficult. This stiffness, combined with skin folds, creates an environment prone to infections. Additional concerns include anal gland compaction, tail pockets, screw tails, tail fold dermatitis, and intertrigo. The tightness of skin folds can lead to grime accumulation, moisture retention, and subsequent infections. While antiseptic creams can help, surgical removal of infected areas may be necessary for a long-term solution.

Understanding Tail Pockets in English Bulldogs

Tail pockets, though not present in all English Bulldogs, are flaps of skin located beneath the tail. They tend to become visible in puppies and persist throughout their lives. These tail pockets can collect dead skin, dirt, and other undesirable materials from the dog’s day-to-day activities. If left unattended, infections may occur, leading to pain and sensitivity in the area. It is crucial to regularly clean your English Bulldog’s tail pocket with soap and water or specialized cleaning wipes about once a week. By ensuring cleanliness, you can prevent potential infections from taking hold. Remember to blot away excess moisture to avoid creating an infection-friendly environment. If your Bulldog’s tail pocket becomes infected, consult your vet for appropriate treatments to address the issue and prevent future occurrences.

A Glimpse into American Bulldogs

As an extra treat for my readers, let’s briefly discuss American Bulldogs, the larger and taller relatives of English Bulldogs. American Bulldogs differ in appearance, boasting longer legs, muzzles, and a shape resembling that of a Pit Bull. The breed encompasses two types: Johnson Bulldogs (also known as “classic” or “bully” types) and Scott Bulldogs (also known as “standard” or “performance” types). In contrast to English Bulldogs, American Bulldogs possess long, powerful tails that are thicker at the base and taper to a point. Resembling a pump handle, these tails naturally hang down but can be raised when the dog feels happy or excited. Some American Bulldogs may exhibit curled or kinked tails, which, while not desirable in show dogs, are normal and shouldn’t cause any difficulties.

In Conclusion: Embrace Your Bulldog’s Tail

So, in conclusion, English Bulldogs should indeed have tails. However, their size and shape can vary significantly. Just as some dog breeds possess remarkably long tails, English Bulldogs exhibit shorter, often stub-like tails. Short-tailed dogs can be trendy, with some enthusiasts desiring naturally bob-tailed companions or opting for medical dockings. Whatever your English Bulldog’s tail looks like, cherish its uniqueness—it’s part of their charming personality!

Happy English Bulldog

Want to learn more about buying an English Bulldog? Check out my comprehensive guide!

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