Most dogs are born with a short or long tail. But some breeds, like the Brittany Spaniel, are born without a tail entirely.
The appearance of some of these breeds has been altered through gene mutation and selective breeding. In that context, it is important to understand why some dogs are tailless and why it is not always natural.
- Why Are Some Dogs Born without Tails?
- Boston Terrier
- Brazilian Terrier
- English Bulldog
- French Bulldog
- Croatian Sheepdog
- Brittany Spaniel
- Braque du Bourbonnais
- Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog
- Pembroke Welsh Corgi
- Australian Shepherd
- King Charles Spaniel
- Miniature Schnauzer
- English Shepherd
- Austrian Pinscher
- Jack Russell Terrier
Why Are Some Dogs Born without Tails?
Some dog owners prefer their pets without a tail. Over time, this has encouraged breeders to adapt to gene mutations. In that context, let’s learn the words tail docking and understand the process.
It is an old practice where parts or the whole tail of a dog is removed. When it happens after the dog’s birth, it is called tailed docking and such dogs are said to belong to docked breeds.
It is done surgically with scissors, typically with dogs older than six months. So, it is basically amputation.
This should not be confused with bobtail breeds where the lack of a tail is a natural occurrence.
Here are some dog breeds that are born without tails.
The Boston Terrier is the result of a cross between the English Bulldog and the White English Terrier. It is a natural bobtail breed, meaning it naturally comes without a tail.
A lot of them are born with a little tail called a nib which is mentioned as a standard characteristic. If a Boston Terrier has a long or docked tail, it might be difficult to register and recognize as purebred.
This dog breed is referred to as the “American Gentleman”. It is a small, friendly and outgoing dog.
Boston Terriers are intelligent and eager to please their owners. They are easy to train and are protective about their family.
So they might get aggressive if they are not trained well. They can also get aggressive if their territory is challenged.
Boston Terriers are loyal watchdogs and great companions. But they bark only when necessary.
They have a black and white coat that they are famous for. They have big eyes that are wide apart.
They are great with dog sports that require agility, dock diving and obedience.
This is an interesting one. A Brazilian Terrier’s tail can go from long to nothing at all. The breed’s standard, however, is the docked tail.
In Brazil, the tail is always docked but when left untouched, it has a thick and short tail. In some countries, removing the tail with scalpels and scissors without anesthesia has been banned.
It is a tri-colored dog with the Jack Russell Terrier and Fox Terrier for ancestors. These are alert and intelligent dogs.
They like to play and dig holes. They must be trained and constantly need stimulation otherwise they will go out on their own in search of entertainment and you don’t want that.
They are small dogs with narrow chests and folded ears. Brazilian Terriers are popular for their triangular skulls.
They are active dogs so small apartment spaces do not work for them.
Now, these dogs don’t always appear without a tail. This often leads to confusion with many pet owners being asked if they docked their dog’s tail.
Some English Bulldogs have a short tail bob which is often not considered a real tail. So in that sense, English Bulldogs don’t have a tail.
But in all honesty, some tails are more visible than others. Most English Bulldogs have an incredibly short or medium-sized tail.
This is not to say some dogs aren’t docked. This practice, however, is illegal in the US and the UK.
Tails are also removed for medical reasons sometimes. Most of them, though, are born with a short straight or screwed tail.
English Bulldogs with a straight tail are preferred. It is the breed standard.
Bulldogs are born stubborn but become patient and friendly dogs. They are a great family dog breed and are known to create strong bonds with the owner.
They are a low energy dog that can adjust to any environment quite well. They get along with children and other pets quite well too.
English Bulldogs with a long tail exist but are an abnormality.
This one is a descendant of the English Bulldog. French Bulldogs have been bred to have short and stumpy tails which often leads to questions about docking.
They come with three types of tails—straight and stumpy, screwed and stumpy, thick root with a fine tip. Unfortunately, whatever the type, these (almost non-existent) tails can cause health problems.
Because of the way the tail has developed in recent times, it does not align well with their spine. This could lead to deformity or instability in the spinal column.
Not only is it severely painful but it can lead to nerve damage too. It is a genetic condition that occurs as a result of breeders trying to get the screwed tail which is the preferred look.
Otherwise, French Bulldogs are small dogs that make for excellent companions.
It is a very intelligent dog and quiet but a good watchdog. It is a very patient and fun-loving dog which is, unsurprisingly, referred to as the “clown dog”.
French Bulldogs are very protective of their family and home.
At some point, the Croatian Sheepdog used to be born with a long and curly tail that was docked after birth. But since the practice became illegal in Croatia, the only way to keep this breed of dogs without a tail was through selective breeding.
Today, most puppies are born with a very small tail or none at all. They may also be docked to one inch in length depending on the country they are in. In case they are born with a tail, it is moderately high and covered in bushy hair.
It is carried low at rest and above the dog’s back when it is alert. It is legal to dock the tail of a Croatian Sheepdog in the US.
It comes under a herding dog group and has been bred and used as a sheep and cattle herder for many centuries in Slavonia. The breed dates back to 1374.
It is a medium-sized, rectangular dog that has short hair on its head and legs.
Most Brittany Spaniels are born without a tail. Occasionally it has been seen that a Brittany Spaniel will have a long tail.
It is still quite common to dock the tails of this breed. These are compact dogs that can be tailless or have their tail docked. In that case, it is done to approximately four inches.
A dog’s tail is crucial to its well-being. In some breeds, a tail helps the dog maintain their body balance.
Some dogs use their tail to communicate with other dogs. It is also helpful when they swim. It serves as a rudder.
Brittany Spaniels are a medium-sized body with a great deal of agility and good looks. It is a strong and energetic dog that moves quickly.
It is a rugged dog probably because it was originally a hunting dog. It is hyperactive and was used specifically while hunting birds.
They are great family dogs but they need a lot of physical activity and daily exercise.
Braque du Bourbonnais
You might be able to find similarities between a Braque du Bourbonnais and a Brittany Spaniel. It is because the mutation of both dogs’ tails is identical.
A Braque du Bourbonnais is also called a short tail pointer. It has been bred to be born with a short tail or no tail at all.
In fact, breeders stuck to taillessness and stringent color requirements. This led to Braque du Bourbonnais being a dog focussed on looks more than performance.
This even led to breeders losing interest in the dog. No puppies of this breed were registered for a decade from the mid-1960s to mid-1970s.
There was an active revival of the breed when the standards were relaxed, docked tails were accepted and its hunting instincts were restored.
The Braque du Bourbonnais is originally from France but it is now mostly bred in the USA.
Today, this is a hunting dog that very much likes to be active. It is a small dog but it likes to change directions quickly.
It has two possible coat colors: Liver or Wine Dregs or Faded Lilac and Faw or Peach Blossom. It has a rustic appearance and the females are usually a lot longer, thinner and more elegant than a male Braque du Bourbonnais.
Related: Top 17 Dog Breeds With Floppy Ears
Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog
Popularly known as “The Heeler,” the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is a medium-sized dog. It is a working dog with a natural bobtail.
It is different from an Australian Cattle Dog with a docked tail. However, this one is also bred in Australia to herd cattle.
The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is a high-energy dog that is alert, watchful and obedient. It is very loyal to its family and is reserved when in the presence of strangers.
The natural bobtail is the result of selective breeding of dogs without a tail or with a really short one. Today, it naturally has a stumpy tail which is no longer than four inches.
It was bred with the intention of withstanding harsh weather (like in the Australian Outback while herding livestock). It is officially bred only in Australia and Canada which makes it a rare breed.
It is also called the “Stumpy”.
Related: 17 of the Top Blue Heeler Mix Breeds You Don’t Want to Miss
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi does not have a pretty story. It is one of the two breeds that are known as Welsh Corgi. The other one being the Cardigan Welsh Corgi.
The tail is the main difference between both the breeds. The Pembroke is born without a tail or a really short one but the Cardigan Corgi has a long tail.
Now, a short tail is very desirable so many of them have their tails docked. In fact, breed standards dictate that the tail must be docked as short as possible without causing an indentation.
They were docked everywhere for a long time until some countries deemed it illegal. Some of them were bred only because the breeders wanted a bob-tailed dog.
The tiny tail is the result of a recessive mutation in the T-gene. It is also desirable because it helps distinguish the Pembroke from the Cardigan Welsh Corgi which has a long tail.
These are herding dogs. So, naturally, they are very active but also tender and affectionate pets.
This one is a medium-sized dog that is born with a natural bobtail. However, a vast majority of Australian Shepherds are born with long tails.
This has led to confusion about which is natural to the Australian Shepherd. It has also led to debates about which is the “correct” version of the dog and what is healthier considering both occur naturally.
The truth is, one in every five Australian Shepherds is born without a tail. So while it is not the majority, it is natural.
Many pet owners choose to dock the tail for aesthetic reasons or to comply with breed standards in their country. The length of a dog’s tail depends on the dog breed and the bloodline.
The number of vertebrae in the Australian Shepherd varies by one or two. So the tail tapers as the vertebrae get smaller towards the tail.
But in a bobtail Australian Shepherd, the vertebrae at the end will be missing. This creates a blunt look.
This is a working breed dog with a lot of energy and hence needs a lot of exercise. It is intelligent and demands that you throw a lot of challenges at it.
Related: 24 Dog Breeds That Are Perfect Outdoors
King Charles Spaniel
The King Charles Spaniel is also called the English Toy Spaniel. It is a small dog that likes company and makes for a great lapdog.
It is sometimes born with a full tail but if a dog is born with a kink in its tail, breeders like to dock it. When it does have a tail, it is to be at the same level as its back. It should be moving constantly when the dog is at work.
UKC standards say docking of this breed is optional but if you do, you must leave at least two-thirds on.
It is a descendant of hunting dogs but not anymore. It is friendly and intelligent but also has stable temperament which has made it a good therapy dog.
This one is a low-energy dog but can bond with children and families well. Pet owners are advised against rough handling on this dog.
It is a good watchdog and might bark at the sight of visitors too. The King Charles Spaniel has dark eyes and a short nose.
This is a friendly and caring dog that is also very alert and hence a good watchdog. Most of them are born with tails but some have naturally bobbed tails.
This is the result of a mutation in a number of breeds including the Miniature Schnauzer. This mutation, however, can be lethal as it can lead to deformities in puppies that survive the process of birth.
In some breeds, like the miniature schnauzer, natural bobtails occur without the lethal gene.
This one is an intelligent and obedient dog that wants to please its owner. So it is easy to train. It’s an active dog that requires daily exercise but can live in the city and the country just the same.
Most of these are born with a long tail. Dogs that are docked are part of the American Kennel Club terrier group.
This one has an interesting story. Legend says that it is a combination of native dogs of the British Isles and the Roman Sheep and Cattle Dog.
Roman statesman Julius Caesar brought English Shepherds to the British Isles during the 55 BC invasion. And it was brought to the American colonies by the first settlers.
Typically, you will find it with a moderately long tail with the tip of the bone reaching the joint. When the dog is resting the tail is held straight up or over the back.
You will also find English Shepherds with a natural bobtail, which is accepted by the United Kennel Club. The bobtails are about six to eight inches long with a back line.
It is a medium-sized dog with good balance. It is energetic, intelligent and quite courageous. It is a great companion dog and responds quickly to its master’s commands.
The Austrian Pinscher was primarily used for hunting. But in the 1970s it almost became extinct.
So, dogs with working ability were chosen and bred with mixed breed landrace dogs. Emphasis was on traits like strong protective instincts and being gentle and dependable with their puppies.
As a result, this breed looks more varied than any other breed belonging to one region. So it is hard to say where a particular dog gets its traits from.
It has a relatively short tail that is curved towards the back. When it is docked, it is kept short to an inch or two in length and stays high.
However, with a lot of debate around docking, this has been declared illegal in much of Europe. Naturally, the tail varies from dog to dog.
Some Austrian Pinschers have a tightly curled tail while others almost have a straight tail. These dogs have a wide visual range of body shapes, ears, tails, faces, coat colors and patterns.
Jack Russell Terrier
The Jack Russell Terrier was developed by a 19th century parson called Reverend John Russell who had a passion for hunting. This is also where the Parson Russell Terrier comes from.
Both these dogs come from the same strain. The Jack Russell Terrier is a small dog with a long body. It has short legs and is used to hunt vermin and bolt rabbits.
The tail is straight and set on high. If the tail is docked, it is usually to a length so that the tip of the tail is at the same level as the top of the ears.
When the dog is alert or moving, the tail is likely to be straight or with a small curve forward. It could be carried erect or cheerfully. When the Jack Russell Terrier is resting, the tail is likely to drop.
It is also referred to as “puddin’ dog” or “pud”.
For many dogs, it is also a helpful tool while swimming or balancing while running. Those without a tail have to work extra hard to make up for the lack of it which has led to a lot of debate on the subject.
The process might have started off as something that helps dogs with agility and hygiene but it’s tough to say that’s what it is for today.