French Bulldogs generally have short tails. Sometimes, though, you will see one with a longer tail. Is this normal? Does having a longer tail disqualify Frenchies from being purebred? Read on to find out.
They Used to Have Longer Tails
Way back in history, French Bulldogs had longer tails than they do now. While their tails used to be short compared to other long-tailed breeds, it was still far longer than it is today. You see, Frenchies were initially bred as “ratters” – a collection of small dog breeds intended to catch mice, rats, and other vermin, mostly on ships. To be practically useful, these dogs had to be small, quick, fierce, and have a short, muscular tail.
Why the short tail, though? Well, sailors on board the ships would grab the dog by the tail to hoist them into manholes and other small spaces where they had to catch the pesky critters. Breeding dogs with shorter, powerful tails meant that the dogs didn’t get hurt or suffer any other discomfort from being picked up in this undignified, but practical manner. In fact, this was common practice until the late 1800s. Wow.
Another reason for the Frenchie’s short tail is their history as fighting dogs. These pups were often used in dog fights and bull-baiting. Long tails are a hazard in these questionable sports, so breeders selected dogs with shorter tails to avoid tail injuries.
Frenchies Now Have Short Tails
Frenchies are bred to have short tails – it says so in the FR FCI and UK KC French Bulldog breed standards. The shorter tail could lead to some severe health issues, though. It seems that the breeding societies are aware of this since they stipulate both a minimum and maximum tail length.
If your purebred Frenchie has a tail that is too short, it is automatically disqualified from any purebred competition and can’t win any prizes. Tails that are too long don’t necessarily lead to disqualification, but it does carry a penalty, so you can’t win. Sorry, folks.
The official guidelines state that a Frenchie’s tail should be at least long enough to cover the anus.
5 complications with short tails
An overly short tail – or no tail at all – leads to spinal deformation. This is also common in Frenchies with coiled or corkscrew tails. Spinal deformation comes in many forms, with various levels of seriousness. Unfortunately, your pooch’s quality of life could be severely affected by this defect, since these pups are often unable to walk correctly, and usually can’t run. Added to that, the deformed spine could also lead to severe pain. Not a pleasant thought.
Spinal deformation also leads to incontinence issues, since the deformed spine pinches the nerves leading to your pooch’s hindquarters.
The Frenchie’s shorter tail leads to the formation of a tail pocket. Say what now? The tail pocket is a tiny pocket of skin formed underneath the base of the tail. It’s sometimes hard to spot and often only develops when your pup is around 6 months of age. Since your pooch can’t reach here with their tongue or paws, they can’t clean here, and all sorts of nasties lurk there. So, if your pooch falls in this category, you have the questionable task of regularly cleaning this tail pocket. This is a delicate process since rough handling could hurt your pup. If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, you could always get a trained dog groomer or vet to help you out. They generally know what they’re doing.
It seems that these poor dogs just can’t get a break, now, can they? The French Bulldog’s tail usually lies flat against their bums, which could cause issues when they, um, go to the toilet. It’s a pretty gross topic, so we won’t dwell on it. Suffice to say, that doing their business could get their tail in a pretty disgusting state, which leads to hygiene issues and potential infections.
It’s pretty standard for Frenchies to develop all sorts of skin problems around their tails. They often get eczema under their tails – an itchy affair that can be treated with specialized shampoos.
Then, there’s the notorious tail pocket again. It’s not uncommon for Frenchies to develop painful skin infections in their tail pockets. That’s why you should clean it regularly.
Yup, if your pooch spends a lot of time in the sun, they could get some nasty sunburn on their stumpy tails. Like most of us, these guys love being out in the sun, though, so you have to manage things on your pup’s behalf. Avoid going into the sun around noon, when the sun’s rays are at their most savage. Also, put some sunscreen on. A mild kid’s sunscreen should do the trick.
Purebred French Bulldogs have short tails – longer tails aren’t recognized by the official breeding societies. While a longer tail would lead to fewer health risks for your pup, it would, unfortunately, take him out of the running as a prize-winning show dog. Sorry! We hope that this article sheds some light on the health issues you could expect to encounter with your purebred Frenchie. When in doubt, always consult your vet for advice.
¹ Photo by Seongbin Im