French Bulldog tail care: 5 Tips that actually work!

Edited by Dr. Jo


French Bulldog Tail Care – Why?

When talking about French 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 French Bulldog Tail is docked. 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:

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

  • The description of the different types of French Bulldog tail.
  • Some of the issues French Bulldog tail are prone to develop.
  • All about their anal glands and how to clean them.
  • And more interesting facts about the French Bulldog tail!

“Undocked, short, set low, thick at root, tapering quickly towards tip, preferably straight, and long enough to cover anus. Never curling over back nor carried gaily.”

UK Kennel Club Standards

Types of French Bulldog tail

There are three types of accepted tails in French Bulldogs:

  • Stumpy and straight
  • Stumpy and screwed (but not curly)
  • Thick at the base with a fine tip

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 not curly), short, hung low, thick root and fine tip carried low in repose.

In the UK, the British Kennel Club launched a scheme to promote the breeding of straighter tails, as the breeding that led to the tighter screwed tail appearance resulted in spinal defects.

french bulldog tail care

Reasons for a short French Bulldog tail

Historically, Frenchies used to have much longer tails than the ones we see today. But gradually, breeders selectively-bred their dogs to produce Frenchies with shorter tails. Why?

French Bulldogs used to be used for ratting. Shorter tails gave them more advantages while they were working, such as increased speed, and fewer rat bites to the tail. French Bulldogs are no longer working dogs today, but their stubby tails have now become somewhat of a cosmetic appeal, so breeders are still selectively breeding them to become shorter and shorter.

“Flat-faced dogs often have a vertebral malformation called hemivertebrae, which causes the oddly-shaped vertebrae that causes the curly tail of pugs and French bulldogs. But as the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare notes, if hemivertebrae are present in other parts of the spine it can “lead to instability and deformity of the spinal column.” This condition then leads to the spinal cord or the nerves that rely on it getting squished or damaged, resulting in pain, wobbliness, paralysis and incontinence.”

Smithsonian Magazine

French Bulldog anal glands

French Bulldog anal sacs or anal glands require a bit of attention. In Frenchies, 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.

frenchie tail

How often should I clean my French 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 French Bulldog’s anal glands need some squeezing?

When your French Bulldog starts to:

  • Smell fishy around their derriere.
  • Leave brownish or yellowish stains wherever they sit.
  • And scoot their butt on the floor or walls.

Yikes!

How to express French Bulldog’s anal glands: Practical (and easy) STEPS!

Even though it’s recommended that a vet does this (sometimes groomers do it too), 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:

  1. Place your thumb and index finger on both sides of your French Bulldog’s anus.
  2. Swipe up and down a few centimeters while gently pressing. You should notice a little pea-sized bump on each side
  3. Again, gently, yet firmly press one inch beside each gland until you can fill them with the inner parts of your fingers
  4. Finally, squeeze gently, but remember to cover the exit with a towel!
  5. Reward! “Who’s a good boy?” Giving your French 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

Useful products to treat French Bulldog’s Anal glands

french bulldog 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 French Bulldog’s anal gland cleaning:

  • 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.
  • Dog shampoo for French Bulldogs: 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 French Bulldog’s derriere!
  • Wrinkle balms for French Bulldogs: Yes, this is a thing! Wrinkle balms are lifesaving options to put on your French 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!

Other issues of French Bulldog tail

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

  • Hemivertebrae: deviation in French Bulldog’s tails causing nervous-system related issues. It is more common in Frenchies with screwed tails. This results in abnormal spine shapes, trouble walking, and hind leg impairment. Typically, they wobble and scuff their toes as they walk. Some French Bulldogs are directly born with this condition and they need special care for life.
  • 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. Frenchie 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 French Bulldog’s tail too.

French bulldog breed information

Frequently Asked Questions – French Bulldog Tail Problems

Do all French Bulldogs need their anal glands expressed manually?

In Frenchies 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 French 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 abscesses 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 French 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.

I’ve got a specific question about my French Bulldog tail that is not covered in the article. How can you help me?

Ask a Licensed VET for more information 24/7 via a video call by clicking here.

Conclusion

French Bulldogs’ tails matter! Tails are often overlooked pieces of a French 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 French Bulldog’s rear-end from the beginning. Knowledge of how their tails should look, some attention on how your French 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 French 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 FrenchBulldogsClub.org do, you love a French Bulldog’s waggy tail whenever you get home.

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


French bulldogs care guides Veterinary

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.