6 Terriers with Curly Tails

Photo by Ger Dekker on Flickr

According to a list compiled by the AKC, there are thirty one different Terrier breeds. 

And in all of the breeds that I have used in my lists about dogs with curly tails, I can honestly say that there isn’t a Terrier breed with a tail that has a real curl to it.

And the Terrier with the curliest tail, isn’t a true Terrier. 

The Black Russia Terrier has a tail like this

Photo by Petful on Flickr

But it developed using a mix of seventeen different breeds and only one of them was a Terrier.  

The best I can give you is a list of six Terriers that have tails with a curve in them and three breeds, where any type of curly tail is forbidden. 

Many of the Terrier breeds have traditionally had docked tails.

And although many of us would now see the practice of docking tails as being unnecessarily cruel, it served an important purpose.

By and large, Terriers are small dogs whose role traditionally was to hunt prey such as rabbits and rats and if necessary to follow them into their burrows.

Shorter tails were far less likely to be injured than a full length tail and a docked tail was just long enough for the dog’s owner to be able to grab onto if the dog got stuck anywhere.  

First let me highlight those six terrier breeds that have a slight curl in them. 

American Hairless Terrier

The American Hairless Terrier is a relatively new breed but is already fast becoming a favorite among dog lovers, especially for those who are sensitive to allergens. This lovable, highly active breed is practically identical to the Rat Terrier – minus the hair, of course – which makes total sense because one was bred from the other. 

In fact, the breed of the American Hairless was created practically by accident from the Rat Terrier, but I think we can all agree that it was a happy sort of accident that benefits dog lovers all over the world.

In terms of its tail, according to the breed standard, it should be held “upward in a slight curve when the dog is alert”

Despite looking like a toy dog, the American Hairless is actually considered a working breed, with the high energy and intelligence that goes with the category. They are quite sociable and are well suited for families with children, friendly, and lively. 

The American Hairless can weigh anywhere between 5 to 25 pounds and can grow to a height of 7 to 18 inches. 

Bedlington Terrier

A true terrier in sheep’s clothing, the Bedlington terrier is quite possibly the cutest of the bunch, with its fleece-like curly fur and its adorable pear-shaped snout. 

It’s tail should be “set low, scimitar shaped”

Like most of the terrier breed, the Bedlington has energy to spare and can jump, play, and frolic the whole day. 

Affectionate and a good companion, the Bedlington is also highly intelligent with good intuition, making it a favorite in the show ring and also an excellent watch dog.

The Bedlington can grow to about 15 to 16 inches at the shoulder and can weigh as much as 17 to 23 pounds. The permitted colors for their coat are blue, liver, sandy, or any of these colors with tan points.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Another terrier that can easily be mistaken as a toy dog or lap dog, the Dandie Dinmont takes the prize for cuteness, short stature, long body, large head, and big round eyes. 

Like the Bedlington, A Dandie’s tail should be scimitar shaped

Unsurprisingly, the Dandie Dinmont is intelligent, energetic, affectionate, and sociable, making this breed a good choice for active families with kids. 

What sets this terrier apart is its innately reserved personality, the calmest of the bunch, which has earned the Dandie the nickname “the gentleman Terrier.” 

Keep in mind that while they are quieter than most terriers, they need just as much affection and company.

The Dandie Dinmont is quite hard to find and is a prized breed. 

In fact in 2019, very few of them were registered with the AKC.  

They ranked 176 out of 196 breeds- such a low ranking doesn’t just make them hard to find, it means they are in danger of dying out!

They grow to 8 to 11 inches at the shoulder and weight between 18 to 24 pounds.

Manchester Terrier

Cute is not the word that most people use to describe the Manchester Terrier. Agile, maybe, or athletic, but not cute. 

Growing 15 to 16 inches to the shoulder and weighing between 12 to 22 pounds, it’s hard to imagine that the Manchester and the Dandie Dinmont belong to the same family of dogs. 

And yet, the two share the innate terrier intelligence, spirit, energy, friendliness and liveliness that makes them so endearing. 

While the Manchester looks like the older brother of the Dandie Dinmont, both share a somewhat reserved personality – there will be no pawing or begging – but both crave affection and attention from their human family. 

Keep in mind that the Manchester can be stubborn and even more energetic and have very strong hunter instincts than most terriers, making them less than ideal for families with children.

And their tail? Like the American Hairless Terrier, their tales should be carried in a slight upward curve

Soft-coated Wheaten

Clearly a cousin to the Bedlington, the Soft-coated Wheaten shares the same pear-shaped snout and curly coat but has its own distinctive short tail making it a favorite pet among kids. 

The Wheaten in turn is a happy, devoted, loyal, and intelligent pet, that is highly extroverted and loves being on the receiving end of affection. 

For these terriers, a docked tail is preferred but a natural tail should be upright with a slight curl forward

The Wheaten needs to be exercised regularly, maybe even a bit more than other terriers, and while that beautiful curly coat doesn’t shed as much as it looks, it does need to be brushed almost daily to avoid matting. 

The Soft-coated Wheaten can go from a pale beige to an almost gold color. 

They grow to a height of 17 to 19 inches and a weight of 30 to 40 pounds. Incredibly kid friendly and great for active families with attention to spare. 

Lakeland Terrier

The Lakeland Terrier, or Lakies as they are affectionately called were originally bred to hunt foxes that preyed on sheep. With that in mind, don’t let their adorable snouts and stature fool you – there’s a lot of muscle under that hard, wiry coat. 

It’s tail should be docked and upright with a slight curve towards the head

Lakies do have the same terrier innate intelligence, playfulness, and alertness but they can be strong headed and need a confident hand or a more experienced pet parent to make sure that they are trained and socialized well. 

Their small size makes them a good fit for apartment living but only if they are exercised daily, and a yard or any outdoor space to roam in will do this breed a lot of good.

Lakies grow 13 to 14 inches tall, weigh 15 to 17 pounds, and generally don’t shed much. 

And now that we have looked at those terriers that should have a slight curve in their tails, it is time to move on.

Our next three breeds are forbidden to have any sort of curly tail.

Airedale Terrier

The Airedale, the largest of the terriers, is nicknamed the “the King of the terriers.” Like most terriers they are intelligent, friendly, and affectionate but the Airedale is even more playful than most, with a clever and witty streak that will delight their human parents. 

They are charming and sociable, but keep in mind that the Airedale is quite intense and needs a firm hand in training and setting boundaries. Not at all ideal for apartment living, the Airedale needs a wide running space, like a yard or trips to the beach, to manage its energy levels. 

If you can’t maintain the King terrier’s physical needs, it’s best to opt for a less demanding pet.

Airedale terriers will grow to 21 to 23 inches and weigh between 40 to 65 pounds. 

Their tail should be carried gaily but not curled over the back

Norfolk Terrier

The Norfolk terrier is often referred to as a big dog in a small package, with the same intelligence, athleticism, and working-dog resilience of most terriers but in the body of toy dog proportions. 

It shouldn’t have a squirrel tail, but it should be straight

The Norfolk needs daily exercise like all terriers do but is more able to adjust to small space living due its own small stature. It is friendly – even downright gregarious – sociable, and affectionate, and would love to romp and play with you. 

And unlike some of its terrier cousins, the Norfolk is very trainable and responds well to directions.

The Norfolk can grow to a maximum of 10 inches at the shoulder and will weigh in at 11 to 12 pounds.

Scottish Terrier

The Scottish Terrier is the quintessential terrier – highly intelligent, strong small prey instincts, will love digging holes in your backyard, extremely alert, and completely affectionate and loyal. 

Highly agile with an athletic build, the Scottish Terrier doesn’t carry itself like a small dog despite its size and has a powerful bark that’s sure to scare away unsuspecting burglars. Their short legs will mean that they won’t become your regular jogging companions anytime soon but they’re always up for long, brisk walks. 

The Scottish Terrier grows to a maximum height of 10 inches and weighs between 19 to 22 pounds.

And its tail? It should never be docked and carried erectly

James Grayston

My name is James and I love dogs. have owned four Golden Retrievers in the past 15 years. Currently I own two "Goldies"- a five year old and a seven month old. The photo shows me with our youngest when she was about 7 weeks old!