Why Do Some Dogs Have Curly Tails?

A dog’s tail comes in all shapes and sizes. Some are short, some are long, some are straight, and some curl on and on.

Having a dog with a curly tail is something to be happy about rather than a cause for concern. A dog’s tail is a good barometer of its emotional and physical conditions, and curly tails are often even more expressive. When curly tails curl no more, there are usually warning signals such as the dog having back problems, feeling stress, or pain.

Before panicking and rushing to the clinic, know that a curled tail rarely causes problems. Read on to understand what curly tails are, why some dogs have them, and some warning indications for tails that shouldn’t curl.

Find out more about curly tail dog breeds in this video!

What Exactly Do Curly Tails in Dogs Mean?

The term “curly” refers to the end of your dog’s tail curling over itself like an S-shape in contrast to a straight tail or when its tail curves to one side (called “wry”). There are different types of tail curls:

Corkscrew Tail

A corkscrew tail is also known as a screw tail or an ingrown tail. It is a vertebral malformation where the vertebrae may be fused or otherwise abnormally structured, leading to the tail’s abnormal shape and curvature.

Affected dogs have a deep skin fold surrounding a tightly-curled, malformed tail. A corkscrew tail is commonly observed in Pugs, although it may also occur in other breeds.

Sickle-shaped Tail

Dogs whose origins trace back to cold climates often have sickle-shaped tails. It is a less intense curl with more flexibility. As the dog settles to sleep on a cold night, it will curl up in a ball with its front paws folded next to its body, and its tail clamped tightly around it.

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The shape of his tail allows him to have the end of his tail over his nose to keep it warm. Sometimes when he stretches, he’ll straighten his tail out and then pull it back curled up. The sickle-shaped tail appears in breeds like the Akita and Siberian husky. These dogs can still show their emotions through their tails.

Common Dog Breeds With Curly Tails

There are many dog breeds with curly tails. Check out the list below to see if you can spot your loyal buddy there!

  • Basenji
  • The Pug
  • Pomeranian
  • The Shiba Inu
  • The Akita
  • American Eskimo Dog
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Swedish Vallhund
  • Swedish Lapphund
  • Norwegian Elkhound
  • Norwegian Buhund

Reasons Why Some Dogs Have Curly Tails

Dogs have curly tails for a variety of reasons. The most common reason for having a curly tail is that it is a recessive trait, meaning both parents need to pass down the gene responsible for the tail’s curl.

A curly tail can be caused by what is known as hemivertebrae, a small bone or even cartilage within the tail that allows it to curl. It is where the spine’s bones have become shaped more like a wedge.

Many curly-tailed dogs originated from places with colder climates. Over time, these dogs will have evolved so that their tails curl, allowing them to be used as a warming device to rest on the dog’s nose while keeping their coat and skin warm and from freezing to death in freezing temperatures.

Another reason is that dogs have used their tails throughout the centuries to drag objects, like sleds, across surfaces. Their tales would likely be injured during every working shift if their tails didn’t curl a safe distance above the ground.

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Selective breeding is often responsible for the type and amount of curl in a dog’s tail. Breeders want to produce dogs with curly tails for aesthetic and monetary value.

A Curled Tail Can Mean Health Problems

Curled tails are normal; however, in some cases, they can indicate an underlying health problem. Here are some warning indications that your dog’s curly tail may be causing health problems and that you should take it to the vet for a checkup.

Your Dog’s Breed Does Not Have Curled Tails

Some breeds of dogs have a natural tendency to have curly tails. If your dog has a curly tail and its breed is known for straight tails, it may be a sign that its tail is injured or damaged.

Back Problems

Dogs can also get scoliosis, making it not solely a human condition. Fortunately, you can tell if your pet does not have it by looking at its back for any unusual curves.

Remember that curly tails shouldn’t compromise your pet’s spine. A trip to the veterinarian is necessary if your pet has back issues ( However, it’s unlikely that their curled tail has anything to do with these issues),

Extended Growth of the Tail Curl

If your pet’s curly tail is losing its curl, there may be an issue with the spinal cord or vertebrae. You should take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible so they can determine what is going on and if the dog will require surgery.

Dog tails can send signals you may be ignoring. Learn more about it in this video!


If your puppy has a curled tail but otherwise exhibits no symptoms of spinal problems, it is safe to believe that your dog is completely healthy and happy. However, if your dog shows any signs of pain, visit your nearest vet.

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!

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