Bulldog tail: Want a healthy one? Just follow these EASY steps!

VET’s Edition for Non-VETs!

How to properly take care of Bulldog’s tail! When talking about Bulldogs, one of the main things that make them stand out from other breeds is their lack of a proper tail. It’s a common misconception that their tails are docked.

Edited by Dr. Jo

Bulldogs Tail Care – Why?

They are actually one of the few breeds in the world that have been bred to have almost no tail.

In this article you’ll learn:

#1 – The description of the different types of Bulldog tails.

#2 – Some of the issues Bulldog tails are prone to develop.

#3 – All about their anal glands and how to clean them.

#4 – And more interesting facts about Bulldog’s tails!

When you finish reading this article, you’ll be free of any doubt regarding those beautiful stumpy tails. Let’s get started!

Types of Bulldog tail

There are two types of accepted tails in Bulldogs:

#1 – Stumpy and straight

#2 – Stumpy and corkscrewed (but not curly)

The American Kennel Club doesn’t put a preference on the type of tail, however, the perfect tail would be ‘either straight or “screwed” (but never curved or curly).

In any case, must be short, hung low, with decided downward carriage, thick root, and fine tip.

If straight, the tail should be cylindrical and of uniform taper.

If “screwed,” the bends or kinks should be well defined, and they may be abrupt and even knotty, but no portion of the member should be elevated above the base or root.’

The exact genetics of this condition have yet to be worked out; however, Bulldogs are considered to be predisposed to hemivertebrae because of the breed characteristic of a screw-tail. The gene(s) causing the screw-tail deformity (which involves hemivertebrae in the tail) are thought also to be involved in producing hemivertebrae elsewhere in the spine


Reasons for a short Bulldog tail

Historically, Bulldogs used to have much longer tails than the ones we see today.

But gradually, breeders selectively-bred their dogs to produce Bulldogs with shorter tails. Why?

Bulldogs have a dark history. They are related to the original ‘Bulldog’ breed which was used for bull-baiting and fighting several centuries ago.

This has since been banned, but selective line-breeding to create the Bulldog, led to progressively shorter tails.

While this might have originally been advantageous as the tail would not get damaged when the dog was fighting, breeders now breed Bulldogs with very short tails for cosmetic appeal.

Bulldog anal glands

Bulldog anal sacs or anal glands require a bit of attention. It is rather common that their anal glands become engorged quickly.

This is directly related to their diets and poop. When their diets are not right or if they’re having digestive issues accompanied by diarrhea or soft poop, their anal sacs will get filled.

This happens because harder poop, obtained when they have fiber-rich diets, press them naturally, and take care of the issue while they do their business.

Other reasons for their anal sacs to be filled are deformed anal glands, which can be caused by recurrent infections or mispositioning when they developed.

If you don’t pay enough attention to them, they can get full and infected, and this will cause immense pain to your dog.

How often should I clean my Bulldog anal glands?

If your dog has had anal gland issues in the past, he may need his cleaned occasionally. If that’s the case, a good rule of thumb is to do this every time he gets a bath.

So, if you stick to the recommended bath schedules, you should clean them every two to three weeks.

It’s important to note that if your dog is undergoing bowel movement issues such as diarrhea or food allergies, you’ll need to clean them on a need-to basis.

How to know if a Bulldog’s anal glands need some squeezing?

When your Bulldog starts to:

Signal #1 – Smell fishy around their derriere.

Signal #2 – Leave brownish or yellowish stains wherever they sit.

Signal #3 – And scoot their butt on the floor or walls.


How to express Bulldogs anal glands: Practical and easy STEPS!

Even though it’s recommended that a vet does this, you can easily do it at home if you want to, saving you at least 20 bucks per month if this is a recurrent issue. Here’s how to do it:

Step #1 – Place your fingers

Thumb and index ones on both sides of your Bulldog’s anus.

Step #2 – Swipe up and down a few centimeters while gently pressing

You should notice a little pea-sized bump on each side

Step #3 – Again

Gently, yet firmly press one inch beside each gland until you can fill them with the inner parts of your fingers

Step #4 – Squeeze gently

But remember to cover the exit with a wipe!

Step #5 – Reward!

“Who’s a good boy?” Giving your Bulldog a reward will help you to train him and even look forward to getting his wrinkles cleaned every day.

TOP TIP: Get some Grooming Wipes and do this in a splash-safe place.

This is not something most people are willing to do for their dogs, yet that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know how it’s done.

Many owners don’t realize their dog even has a tail pocket until it develops a stinky infection or the dog shows signs of irritation. This does not make you a bad dog owner—that little tail pocket is great at hiding out!… Puppies may not develop a tail pocket until they reach 6 months or older, around the time they start to fill out. That’s why it’s important to re-check for a tail pocket after your dog is fully grown.

The Natural Dog Company

Other issues of Bulldog tail

There are other issues directly related to Bulldog’s tails that you must pay attention to. The most common ones are:

#1 – Hemivertebrae

Deviation in Bulldog’s tails causing nervous-system related issues. It is more common in Bulldogs with corkscrewed tails.

This results in abnormal spine shapes, trouble walking, and hind leg impairment. Typically, they wobble and scuff their toes as they walk.

Some Bulldogs are directly born with this condition and they need special care for life.

#2 – Skin-fold infections

Similar to the infections that can occur in their flat-faces, these can be caused by an excess of humidity and poor hygiene habits.

Bulldog tails can be so tight to their back, that the skin fold at their base can be hard to notice, let alone clean, leading to localized infections.

Some also have a small tail pocket, where they curl tightly over the anus. Making sure to both clean and dry the areas directly eliminates this annoying issue.

Check out the wrinkle care page, and apply the helpful steps to your Bulldog’s tail too.

The Breed Council in 2011 asked for the following to be added ‘Lack of tail, inverted or extremely tight tails are undesirable’. There has been a tremendous amount of work on the selection of dogs to improve tails and the breeders are to be applauded for their achievements. In a short amount of time, the dogs in the show ring are now commonly exhibited with mobile tails which are easy to care for.

Bulldog Breed Council

Useful products to treat Bulldog’s Anal glands

Aside from some gloves, an apron, and a mask (you can thank us later!), you should get two more items to help you with your Bulldog’s anal gland cleaning:

Product #1 – Grooming wipes

They are useful to clean all residues. Still, you need to get alcohol-free ones, and not human wipes. The perfect brand to get is Earthbath, specifically Earthbath’s All Natural Grooming Wipes.

They are easy to use, itch-free, and completely safe to use around sensitive areas.

Product #2 – Dog shampoo

A little bit of your good ol’ dog shampoo can be really helpful to wash away everything if they get extra dirty. The most recommended one would be from Earthbath.

Get Earthbath’s All Natural Shampoo in any of their different presentations to obtain the best itch-free results.

If your dog is allergic, there’s also a completely hypoallergenic version. Only the best for your Bulldog’s derriere!

Product #3 – Wrinkle balms

Yes, this is a thing! Wrinkle balms are lifesaving options to put on your Bulldog’s butt if it’s inflamed or if there’s a mild infection.

Natural Dog Company Wrinkle Balm is especially good because it has antifungal properties. Try it out to soothe their itchy behinds!

How to take care of Bulldog

Frequently Asked Questions – Bulldog Tail Care

Do all Bulldogs need their anal glands expressed manually?

In Bulldogs that have had issues in the past with them, yes, you must do it manually. If that’s not the case, you still should check them occasionally to see if they’re full or not, or simply pay attention to the mentioned signs.

Can Bulldogs get sick if I don’t express their anal glands?

Yes! When they’re full, anal glands can get infected, inflamed, and in extremes cases, develop abscess filled with pus. This can be really painful for them!

How can such a small tail cause so many health problems?

The tail is a feature that has been selectively-bred to excess in the Bulldog breed. While this does make them cute, it results in more problems than normal, since the folds and tail pockets are bigger, and the vertebrae are malformed.


Bulldogs’ tails matter! Tails are often overlooked pieces of an Bulldog’s health, especially since they barely have tails!

When you realize that they can cause trouble, it’s probably already too late, which is something you can directly avoid taking care of your Bulldog’s rear-end from the beginning.

Knowledge on how their tails should look, some attention on how your Bulldog’s unique tail looks, proper diet, and hygiene should eliminate all of the issues they may suffer.

As we said; tails matter. They are actually one of the most important tools Bulldogs have to communicate with us, whether they control it or not.

They might not have much of a tail, but they can certainly wag it enthusiastically! If you take that into account, you would protect their tails as much as you protect their eyes!

That makes sense, especially if, as all of us at BulldogsClub.org do, you love an Bulldog’s waggy tail whenever you get home.

Editor’s Choice – Cleaning a Bulldog’s Tail

So, are you paying attention to your Bulldog’s butt?

Dr. Joanna De Klerk

Dr. Jo is a graduate of the Royal Veterinary College, University of London. She was one of BBC's Young Vets and experienced in telemedicine services, interviews, and public speaking about dogs and cats. Author of Harper Collins' Tales from a Young Vet and Tales from a Wild Vet, and a series of books on different dog breeds. She currently has 2 dogs at home. This article is the result of her experience not only as a Vet but also as a dog Parent.

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