When you think of a French Bulldog, you often picture the snuffly nose on their squished-up face, the big, puppy-dog eyes, and the adorable snorts and snuffles that he makes as he’s playing with his toys of snoring in his doggy bed.
However, often overlooked, yet very important to his doggy body is his tail. You need to understand his tail’s characteristics to take proper care of him. This is your guide for that.
In terms of what you should know about your French Bulldog’s tail, there are quite a few details to learn and remember about his little tail!
These include where it comes from historically, what it looks like (including variations), and how to recognize health and tail issues (and tail pocket) so that he stays healthy and happy.
Are French Bulldog tails docked?
NO, French Bulldogs’ tails are not docked. French Bulldogs are often best described as having a stumpy tail. While there are several other tail types, including a knot, screw-shaped or tapered, all Frenchie tails are still short.
It’s thought that this is from the early days of breeding. Despite how “suspicious” they may look to untrained animal rescue enthusiasts or even the nosy neighbor down the street.
While breeders of unsavory roots back in the day used to deliberately change the shape of Frenchie tails while they were still newborns, this practice has long since been banned.
If you have a Frenchie whose tail does look like it’s been modified, a trip to the vet will tell you for sure. If they discover it has, you’ll want to contact the local animal authorities in your area to have the breeder reported!
So, even though they often look as though they’ve been chopped off, your sweet snuggly Frenchie has not had any malicious hacks made to their sweet little tushies! Talk about a need-to-know fact when it comes to parental satisfaction.
Can a French Bulldog wag his tail?
NO, French Bulldogs can’t wag their tails. Because there is not enough of a tail there to wag! To show their happiness, Frenchies often wag their whole scrunchie butts instead!
As in, they run around wiggling their entire bums when they’re happy! Except for a few that have a bit of a longer tail (more on that in a moment). Adorable, hilarious and so completely Frenchie-esque, it’s a loveable feature of this dog breed.
They’ll, of course, give you other signs they’re happy, too, such as snorting and snuffling and other body language cues.
What do French Bulldogs tails look like?
So, now that you know your Frenchie’s tail is in its natural form, what are the kinds of tails that you may find developing in your Frenchie puppy as he grows up? The three main kinds are below.
French Bulldog screw tail
A common one to find on the websites of dog breeds or online, if you do a wider search, is a Frenchie Bulldog screw tail. This tail waves from left to right and back, or, more commonly right to left and then back to right again. It forms an “s” or, a screw. These tails are popular with breeders and, therefore, in Frenchies.
However, screw tails are considered to be painful for Frenchies. Whether the screw is tight or a bit looser for a gentle curve, a screw tail brings pain for Frenchies due to the health problems that it usually brings along with it (more on that in a moment).
French Bulldog long tail
If you ever take a look at the classic French Bulldog (in history, that is), you’ll see that they’ve got a longer tail. The length itself can vary, but most of them were about 3-5” (7.62-12.7cm).
Over time and breeding, that length shortened to the French Bulldog long tail that is now almost 2” (5 cm) instead. This tail is often thick at its root and then thin at its end. It usually will tilt down like a standard tail you’d see on a pooch.
French Bulldog straight tail
The preferred French Bulldog tail by the AKC and other popular breeding overseers is the French Bulldog straight tail.
This sounds like its historical tail, but it’s shorter. To our human eyes, it looks like the Frenchie has his tail swooped into a bun.
The tail is considered “knobby” and it’s thought that it’s the most comfortable for Frenchies as far as pain and health conditions. The knob size itself can vary from pup to pup.
What is a French Bulldog tail pocket?
Have you been hearing the term “tail pocket” and wondering what it is? One of the cool things about a Frenchie tail pocket is that it’s as simple as it sounds!
It’s a small pocket (concave skin) that forms under your Frenchie’s tail and it often can “hold” all sorts of stuff (read: bacteria, dry skin, and even debris such as leaf or grass bits).
Not all French Bulldogs have tail pockets, but it is a common characteristic to Frenchies. Some have simple, almost invisible little indentations under their tail. Others have rather deep pouches that can be tricky to keep clean (keep reading for help with this).
This varies from litter to litter and from pup to pup! While abnormal, perhaps, a pocket is nothing to be shy about, and having one or not having one doesn’t make your Frenchie any more (or less) loveable.
French Bulldog tail problems
French Bulldogs can be prone to health problems that are thought to be connected to either their tail form or their tail pocket.
The most common issue is tail pocket infections. Knowing about these, and watching for any signs of problems, will help you to make the most out of your pooch’s quality of life.
This condition is most commonly associated with a French Bulldog screw tail, which is one of the reasons why a lot of the professionals out there frown upon this tail type.
While hemivertebrae can be an issue with Frenchies that have straight tails, the likelihood (genetics aside) is thought to be lower.
This is a scary word for a scary condition, unfortunately. A Frenchie gets his characteristic tail due to the vertebrae in the spine being compressed together. In some cases, this compression is unequal, and it can lead to a crooked and physically stressed spine that is called hemivertebrae.
This can happen early in a puppy’s life, or later as he grows into a dog. This is a serious condition as it can lead to issues with mobility or even limb paralysis, incontinence (in seniors), and more.
If your Frenchie is diagnosed with hemivertebrae, treatment often revolves around therapeutic details such as massage therapy or even physiotherapy.
Hemivertebrae is a painful condition, and these kinds of strengthening and relaxing treatments can help ease the discomfort for your pooch.
In some cases, your dog’s vet may even recommend corrective surgery. Mild to severe, a vet’s assessment and monitoring of hemivertebrae are crucial to help confirm your Frenchie’s overall quality of life.
French Bulldog tail pocket infection
Another common health issue for your Frenchie’s tail is in his pocket! Even with proper care of his pocket (more on that in a moment), you may have to deal with an infection of your Frenchie’s pocket at some point.
French Bulldog tail pocket infections can come from all sorts of causes. Popular ones include droppings that find their way in there, bits of grass, pollen or dirt, and even a moisture build-up that leads to an infection on its own.
Symptoms of an infection include swelling and redness around the tail and its pocket. The area may also be itchy and dry, compelling your pooch to do some scooting across the floor.
While it may seem mild to us, an infection can be excruciating and even life-threatening.
You’ll want to make sure he’s seen by a vet as soon as possible for an assessment and a series of antibiotics to clear it up.
How to properly take care of your Frenchie and his tail pocket
So now that you’re feeling terrified of a tail pocket infection, here are some real tips that will help you to make sure that you give your Frenchie the best chance to steer clear of infection.
Or, if there is one, you’ll catch it very early and will prioritize everyone’s comfort and safety!
Inspect it regularly
Firstly, you’ll want to make sure that you keep a close eye on his tail pocket regularly.
When you’re doing your regular grooming or cuddle session with your French Bulldog, make sure that you visually and, if it’s deeper, physically get a feel for the pocket’s health.
The more often you do this, the easier it will be to catch something before it even has a chance to start and cause discomfort to your Frenchie.
Clean it regularly
As you may already know, Frenchies have sensitive skin and this is included in their tail pocket. You’ll want to keep your Frenchie’s pocket clean daily.
When he comes in from the yard after a bathroom trip, or he’s been playing with friends or even just out for a walk, use baby wipes to gently clean his tail and his pocket, too.
If you don’t want to use baby wipes, you can use a soft cloth with a Frenchie-approved skin cleaner instead.
If you notice a serious amount of build-up, you can also try hydrogen peroxide. This is stronger than a wipe or a regular cleaner, of course, but it can kill bacteria and mold growth effectively.
Even if you do keep his pocket clean, hydrogen peroxide should still be used regularly to make sure you’re getting everything.
On that note, you may find that French Bulldogs don’t like having you in their tail pocket. Whether it’s ultra-sensitive or they just don’t enjoy their tush being handled, it’s something you may have to get him used to over time with patience and treats.
Proper inspection and handling of his pocket are going to be as integral to his health as proper grooming, nail clipping, and teeth cleaning.
If he seems uncomfortable on certain days, it could be a sign that he’s starting to have a sensitivity that you can inspect closely, too.
Limit their sun exposure
French Bulldogs are prone to sunburns because their fur is thin and fine.
What you’ll find is that their tails and tail pockets are especially thin-furred and, therefore, at-risk for sunburning.
Limit his direct exposure to sunshine and also really make sure that you slather on the doggie-friendly sunscreen, paying particular attention to his tail and pocket.
This will keep the skin moisturized, strong and a lot easier to take care of as far as cleaning and keeping healthy.
There’s a lot to keep in mind when it comes to French Bulldogs and their tails.
But, what it all comes back to is remembering that they are natural, undocked tails and that proper assessment, cleaning, and protection of tail and tail pocket will help keep you and your pooch happy and healthy for a long time to come.