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17 Dog Breeds With Docked Tails Naturally: Pictures, Facts, History

Written by: Chris Dinesen Rogers

Last Updated on May 29, 2024 by Dogster Team

Australian Cattle Dog

17 Dog Breeds With Docked Tails Naturally: Pictures, Facts, History

People often associate docked tails on dogs with the medical procedure that creates this look, which must be done when the puppies are younger than 5 days old. Unfortunately, it’s done without anesthesia. Needless to say, it’s painful and traumatic for the puppies, which is one reason the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) opposes the practice.

Interestingly, however, nature has its own way of creating this look too, though, with genetic mutations causing a naturally docked tail in some cases. Scientists have identified a specific gene responsible for its occurrence in many breeds: the T-box transcription factor T gene (C189G). However, it doesn’t explain all cases where another gene may be responsible. For example, selective breeding is another cause of naturally docked tails.

With all that said, let’s take a look at some of the dog breeds that are capable of having naturally docked tails.

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How Are Naturally Docked Breeds Classified?

Below, we’ve categorized the breeds on our list using the American Kennel Club’s scheme of grouping them by function. Seven groups exist, and research has identified correlations between each breed and their assigned category, with many dogs with naturally docked tails belonging to the Herding Group. That makes sense since a tail might be cumbersome for these pups. After all, it’s a vulnerability if a cow or sheep steps on the pup’s tail.

We’ve also identified the source of the naturally docked tails, if known. Scientists theorize that the mutations occurred relatively early in our canine companions’ evolution. However, the development of the various breeds also played a role. Breeds created through selective breeding for conformation are relatively new, occurring around 160 years ago.

Regardless, it’s also important to know that dogs with naturally docked tails will have tails of various lengths. Some will appear nearly full in length, while others appear to have virtually no tail at all. Our list includes several breeds with the appearance of a shortened tail, some of which are longer than others.

The 17 Dog Breeds With Naturally Short Tails

1. Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog in lying on the grass outdoors
Image Credit: Yana Tinker, Shutterstock
Origin: Australia
Cause: C189G T gene mutation
AKC Group: Herding Group

The Australian Cattle Dog is appropriately named because of the breed’s role in the country’s livestock industry, and they get their tail due to a DNA variant in the T gene, which is important during early embryogenesis. However, some are born with long tails as well.

They are hard-working animals with the tenacity and loyalty to get their assigned job done. Interestingly, early efforts to selectively breed the canine included Australia’s dingoes as part of the mix.

2. Australian Shepherd

australian shepherd dog stands sideways in full growth
Image Credit: Hanna Borysenko, Shutterstock
Origin: United States
Cause: C189G T gene mutation
AKC Group: Herding Group

The Australian Shepherd’s name is a misnomer. It may speak to the breeding stock of the animal but not their origin in the United States. This pup has the intelligence and independence you’d expect to see in a pooch working as a herder. While easy to train, this dog isn’t the best choice for novice pet owners. Note that this dog’s tail mutation is also thanks to the T gene mutation.

3. Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier posing in garden
Image Credit: Ruben PH_Shutterstock
Origin: United States
Cause: Without the C189G T gene mutation
AKC Group: Non-sporting Group

You probably instantly recognize the Boston Terrier for its stocky frame, despite their small size, as well as their naturally short tails. They are a selective breeding success story. You’d be hard-pressed to find a sweeter dog. The breed is relatively old and developed soon after people began this practice. Enthusiasts affectionately know this breed as the American Gentleman.

4. Brittany

Image Credit: Kerrie T, Shutterstock
Origin: France
Cause: C189G T gene mutation
AKC Group: Sporting Group

The Brittany is full of energy, making the dog perfectly suited to life as a hunter, pointing and retrieving upland game. The breed got its start in France in the region of its name. It made its way to the United States in the 1940s, where it quickly found a devoted following. The pup quickly proved themself worthy in the field with their keen sense of smell and upbeat personality.

5. Catahoula Leopard Dog

Image Credit: Mary Swift, Shutterstock
Origin: North America
Cause: C189G T gene mutation
AKC Group: Foundation Stock Service

The Catahoula Leopard Dog gets their name from their unique coat pattern. The breed’s name implies a foreign origin. However, they are native to North America and have a history that goes back hundreds of years. While still a part of the Foundation Stock Service, the breed is destined for the Herding Group, given their initial function.

6. Danish-Swedish Farmdog

Danish-Swedish Farmdog
Image Credit: Kewalin Madsen, Shutterstock
Origin: Scandinavia
Cause: C189G T gene mutation
AKC Group: Miscellaneous

The name of the Danish-Swedish Farmdog reflects their Scandinavian origins. The pup is appropriately named, given their intelligence and hard-working temperament. The Miscellaneous Group is fitting for this pup since they did several jobs from herder to ratter. That makes them an all-purpose dog. The breed is relatively new to the AKC family, with official recognition in the pipeline. Also, note that while some of these dogs have naturally bobbed tails, it’s not out of the question for some to have long tails as well.

7. English Bulldog

Image Credit: Branislav Nenin, Shutterstock
Origin: England
Cause: N/A
AKC Group: N/A

While AKC doesn’t recognize the English Bulldog breed, the United Kennel Club (UKC) places them in the Companion Dog Group. Scientists haven’t identified the C189G T gene mutation in this pup, which suggests something else is at play with this trait. However, they all have differing tail lengths, with some even being curled.

8. Jack Russell Terrier

jack russell terrier dog lying on carpet
Image Credit: evrymmnt, Shutterstock
Origin: England
Cause: C189G T gene mutation
AKC Group: Terrier

The Jack Russell Terrier is a shorter and smaller version of the Parson Russell Terrier, although the two look similar. This breed has the C189G T gene mutation, whereas the other does not. You’ll see this pup with the naturally docked tail, although people often have the procedure done on dogs with long tails.

9. King Charles Spaniel

Image Credit: Fotyma, Shutterstock
Origin: England
Cause: N/A
AKC Group: Toy Group

The King Charles Spaniel is another breed where the naturally docked tail appears without the C189G T gene mutation being present. Its presence is interesting, given the pup’s function for humans. These dogs were companion animals, and their cute faces undoubtedly played a significant influence on the breed’s popularity.

10. Miniature Schnauzer

miniature schnauzer dog sitting outdoors
Image Credit: Debra Anderson, Shutterstock
Origin: Germany
Cause: N/A
AKC Group: Terrier Group

It’s hard to imagine a Miniature Schnauzer with a long tail. The naturally shorter one seems more fitting for the pup’s appearance. Perhaps it is a product of selective breeding, considering that they don’t qualify under the T gene mutation, even if it didn’t necessarily serve an adaptive purpose. They are intelligent animals, which comes from being ratters and having to think independently in their jobs.

11. Mudi

Mudi the rare dog breed
Image Credit: Petr_Zatka, Shutterstock
Origin: Hungary
Cause: C189G T gene mutation
AKC Group: Herding Group

The Mudi is a smaller version of herding dog kept by the Magyar people of Hungary for hundreds of years, although this breed is probably the oldest. We see many traits in this pup that we’d expect from a dog with this job. They are intelligent and independent, but they are also eager to please with the energy to back up what they need to do.

12. Parson Russell Terrier

Image Credit: Artush_Shutterstock
Origin: England
Cause: N/A
AKC Group: Terrier Group

You’ll find the larger Parson Russell Terrier across the pond in Ireland and England. The breed is also popular in Australia. These dogs illustrate the subtle differences we often see in selectively bred animals. The association with the Jack Russell Terrier suggests an older origin and proliferation of the trait between the two breeds.

13. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

pembroke welsh corgi dog lying on bed
Image Credit: Jus_Ol, Shutterstock
Origin: Wales
Cause: C189G T gene mutation
AKC Group: Herding Group

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi provided the first solid evidence of the C189G T gene mutation and naturally docked dogs. We can understand how valuable this trait was for these canines, given their role as herders. Their size alone keeps them safe from kicking livestock, and the lack of a tail means it won’t get stepped on and hinder the pooch in their work.

14. Pug

pug dog standing in the forest
Image Credit: marketalangova, Shutterstock
Origin: China
Cause: N/A
AKC Group: Toy Group

The Pug doesn’t have a naturally docked tail as much as they have a curled tail resulting from a spinal defect. Scientists have yet to fully understand the genetics behind this trait, but it seems certain that it isn’t the product of the C189G T gene mutation.

15. Schipperke

Schipperke puppies
Image Credit: Daria Bystritskaia, Shutterstock
Origin: Belgium
Cause: C189G T gene mutation
AKC Group: Non-sporting Group

The Schipperke began life as ratters on ships, hence the familiar sound of the breed’s name. The pup has a Spitz-like appearance, although it is unrelated to these dogs. Nevertheless, this dog carries themself confidently and will make an excellent watchdog. This pooch has a story to go with their naturally docked tail. Angering a shoemaker supposedly left them tailless, although this is purely anecdotal.

16. Spanish Water Dog

brown spanish water dog playing in the snow
Image Credit: Lucia Romero, Shutterstock
Origin: Spain
Cause: C189G T gene mutation
AKC Group: Herding Group

The history of the Spanish Water Dog is murky and lost to history. The pup has been a fixture in the country of their namesake. Again, they are an example of a herding dog with a naturally docked tail to serve them better in their work. They likely served as herders and hunters to cover all the bases as an all-purpose farm dog.

17. Swedish Vallhund

Image Credit: cynoclub, Shutterstock
Origin: Sweden
Cause: C189G T gene mutation
AKC Group: Herding Group

The Swedish Vallhund excels at their role because of their diligent and energetic nature. They share their history with Vikings, which explains their origin. Their stature resembles the Pembroke Welsh Corgi with relatively short legs to help them maneuver around cattle, and they can be born with tails of various lengths.

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The Significance of Dog Breeds With Naturally Docked Tails

The C189G T gene mutation is on a non-sex autosomal chromosome. Each gene consists of a contribution of a copy or allele from the mother and father. If a gene is dominant, only one copy is necessary for it to present visually, like the naturally docked or bobbed tail. That could explain its prevalence among dogs.

It’s worth noting that if both parents contribute the C189G T gene mutation, the result is fatal, with no offspring surviving until birth. Selective breeding can carry unintended consequences with piggyback mutations, although science has yet to identify the specific ones involved. However, there’s a positive twist to this tale.

Selective breeding can replace the complications and disadvantages of tail docking with a naturally occurring trait. Nonetheless, there is an unavoidable risk of 25% of the offspring perishing with the inheritance of two copies of the C189G T gene mutation. About 50% will have one copy, with another 25% having two copies of the mutation and showing the trait.

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Naturally docked dog breeds aren’t as rare as they may seem. Many occur because of a mutation. DNA tests make it easy for breeders to identify dogs with this genotype. It can potentially change the landscape of selectively breeding pups for specific characteristics. Nevertheless, it offers an acceptable alternative to tail docking with further research to determine the risk.

Featured Image Credit: Best dog photo, Shutterstock

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