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The French bulldog’s tail – how short?

| French Bulldog Facts, Frenchie Owners menu | May 1, 2008

CarreraImage by Conson via Flickr

When you look back at some of the first ever French bulldogs you notice one thing straight away, the length of their tails. French bulldogs back then had much longer tails than the dogs of today, however there is no doubt that bulldogs selected for breeding did have the shortest tails or that tails were docked for one of the following reasons:

* As a way to avoid paying tax.

* To strengthen the back and increase the speed.

* To help prevent the tail being bitten while the dog was “ratting”.

* To make better sport when bear baiting or fighting.

It is thought that the longer tails were at one time a natural part of genes inherited by the frenchie, but that over a period of time frenchie breeders went for a shorter and shorter tail. The breed standard in 1937 stated that “the tail should be short and set low, lying flat on the buttocks, thick at the base, naturally broken and should be tapering at the ends”.

It also mentions that the tail shouldn’t be raised or too long, not reaching much beyond the thigh this therefore gives us the indication that the French bulldog tail in those days was longer than that of in the breed today. By 1950 however the wording for the standard was changed to match almost what we see in the frenchie today, “very short, set low, and thick at the root while tapering quickly to the tip.”

“Today most frenchies do indeed have a very very short tail which sometimes doesn’t even cover the anus. The breed’s standard of today however does state that the tail should be “undocked, low, and thick at the root while tapering quickly towards the tip”, so how short is short? Do today’s breeders take short to the extreme and could this be having an undesirable effect on the overall health of the French bulldog?

The actual importance of the tail itself is to act as a counter balance when the dog is carrying out movements such as leaping, walking along narrow structures or climbing. Their tail muscles are also used in stabilising the vertebral column and supporting the extensor muscles of the back as well as those of the buttocks.

Other aspects of the tail are its ability to show pleasure by wagging the tail and its movement relating to showing weakness, anger, dominance or fear to its fellow animals. Thought should be given to this aspect when we think about breeding for shorter and shorter tails, while it might not seem significant to us, the tail plays a significant part of who the dog is.

5 Responses to “The French bulldog’s tail – how short?”

  1. Bob Hasenstab on July 7, 2008 @ 9:44 pm

    I want a French Bulldog but I don’t like the “Bat Ear”.

    I know there are French Bulldogs with ears like a British Bulldog.

    How do you determine were to get such a French Bulldog.

    I have seen many in photos and 1 or 2 in real life.

    Can you guide me.

    Thank you,

  2. I have one. Where do you live? There is a breeder here in Texas that has a stud with it’s ears down. Here is her site. tell her Mack’s Mom sent you.

  3. you do realize that a french bulldog with “downed” ears is incorrect and a serious hereditary fault. Any breeder that breeds such a dog is violating everything that constitutes a reliable breeder. This brings up the question: what else are they doing wrong for the sake of $ perhaps breeding a dog with a serious health problem?

  4. Jennifer Quinn on August 24, 2008 @ 7:37 pm

    A French Bulldog with downed ears is not a French Bulldog. That’s like getting a Dalmatian with no spots! If you don’t like the bat ears then you should get an English Bulldog or another type of dog. Or get a pug. If a Frenchie’s ears are down then there is something very wrong with that breeder and with that dog. It would basically be a deformed version of the breed. Please do not encourage that bad behavior in breeders.

  5. I have two pure bred french bulldogs. They actually mated and just had the puppies. Reading all of this, it makes me second guess the actual papers of on one of my dogs. The puppies all have about 1-1 1/2 inch tails. Is this perfectly normal? I have the Pedigree on both, but it worries me seeing them like this. What are your thoughts and is there something that I can do?

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