dogs with curly tails

The Top 15 Dogs with Curly Tails You Should Know

Discover the fascinating world of dogs with curly tails. From their unique genetics to popular breeds, this article dives deep into the life of these special canines, covering everything from tail anatomy to caring for a curly-tailed pooch.

The Science Behind Curly Tails

Curly Tails

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Genetic Factors

The curl in a dog’s tail is often attributed to specific genetic markers that determine how the muscles and cartilage in the tail grow. These genes can be dominant or recessive, and they interact with other genes to form the final shape of the tail. Recent advances in canine genetics allow researchers to identify the specific loci that contribute to tail curliness, although much is still to be discovered.

Polygenetic Traits and Inheritance

It’s important to note that the curl in a dog’s tail may not be determined by a single gene but could be a polygenetic trait, influenced by multiple genes. This makes predicting tail shapes in mixed-breed dogs quite challenging, as they can inherit a variety of genes from their ancestors.

Evolutionary Advantages

The evolutionary reasoning behind curly tails is still subject to speculation and study. Some theories suggest that a curled tail might have offered certain breeds an advantage in their natural habitats. For instance, in colder climates, a curled tail could serve as a “muff” to keep the dog’s face warm.

Alternatively, a curled tail could serve as a signaling mechanism among pack members for communication. However, it’s essential to note that these are theories and not definitive explanations.

Morphology: Anatomy of a Curly Tail

A dog’s tail is an extension of its spine, made up of smaller vertebrae. The vertebrae in curly tails often have a unique formation or orientation, allowing them to curl naturally. Some breeds have more flexible tails that can straighten when the dog is relaxed and curl when the dog is alert or excited.

Others have tails that are curled tightly, almost into a complete loop. The tail’s musculature and the tension in the ligaments also contribute to its shape.

Popular Breeds with Curly Tails

1. Pug


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The Pug is a small toy breed known for its charming personality and affectionate nature. Originating from China, Pugs have become popular pets around the world. Their tightly curled tails often form spirals that rest against their backs, sometimes even forming double curls.

  • Notable Feature: Pugs are renowned for their friendly and comedic nature, which makes them a hit in families and social gatherings.
  • Tail Trait: The tightly curled tail of a Pug is often so distinct that it forms a double curl, a feature admired in dog shows.

2. Shiba Inu

Shiba Inu

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Hailing from Japan, the Shiba Inu is famous for its fox-like appearance, complete with pointed ears and a thick, plush tail that curls over its back. Known for their independence and intelligence, these dogs are best suited for experienced owners.

  • Notable Feature: The Shiba Inu’s independent and aloof temperament sets it apart, often behaving more like a cat than a dog.
  • Tail Trait: The tail of a Shiba Inu is plush and thick, contributing to its distinctive fox-like appearance.

3. Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamute

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Originating from the Arctic, the Alaskan Malamute is a robust breed known for pulling heavy sleds. They possess a plume-like tail that either rests over their back or to the side, providing functional warmth during sleep.

  • Notable Feature: Known for their endurance and strength, Alaskan Malamutes are often used for heavy sledding and other strenuous activities in cold climates.
  • Tail Trait: The tail can serve a practical function by wrapping around the dog’s face to provide warmth during sleep.

4. Basenji


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The Basenji, originally from Central Africa, is commonly referred to as the “barkless dog” due to its unique vocalizations. Its tail is coiled tightly, often forming a small knot over one hip.

  • Notable Feature: The Basenji’s most distinctive feature is its lack of a traditional bark, instead producing unique, yodel-like sounds known as “barroos.”
  • Tail Trait: The tail forms an extremely tight coil and often knots over one hip, a highly unique feature among dogs.

5. Norwegian Elkhound

Norwegian Elkhound

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The Norwegian Elkhound is an ancient breed with skills in hunting and guarding. They have a tightly curled tail that rests against their back, which is often enhanced by their thick, double coat.

  • Notable Feature: Norwegian Elkhounds are multi-talented dogs skilled in tracking, hunting, and guarding, making them highly versatile working dogs.
  • Tail Trait: The dog’s double coat adds extra volume to its already curled tail, making it appear even more distinctive.

6. Akita


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The Akita is a large and powerful breed from Japan, highly regarded for its loyalty to its family. Its tail is thick and full, curling over the back to create a graceful arch.

  • Notable Feature: The Akita is revered for its unwavering loyalty and is often considered a symbol of good health, happiness, and long life in Japanese culture.
  • Tail Trait: The Akita’s tail is thick and full, forming a gentle curve rather than a tight curl, which sets it apart from other curly-tailed breeds.

7. Chow Chow

Chow Chow

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Originally from China, the Chow Chow is known for its aloof demeanor and lion-like mane. It has a distinctive blue-black tongue and a tail that curls tightly over its back.

  • Notable Feature: One of the Chow Chow’s most distinctive features is its blue-black tongue, a rarity among dog breeds.
  • Tail Trait: The Chow Chow’s tail is tightly curled, further contributing to its distinctive, lion-like appearance.

8. Samoyed


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The Samoyed is a spitz-type breed originally used for herding reindeer and pulling sleds. It’s known for its “Sammy smile,” a friendly and gentle expression. The tail is fluffy and curls up, often touching the back.

  • Notable Feature: The Samoyed is best known for its “Sammy smile,” a friendly expression that reflects its gentle and happy temperament.
  • Tail Trait: The tail is notably fluffy and, while it can curl, often has a more relaxed curl that can either touch or rest on its back.

9. American Eskimo Dog

American Eskimo Dog

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Despite its name, the American Eskimo Dog has its origins in Germany. It’s a small to medium-sized dog known for its intelligence and agility in dog sports. The tail curls up and over the back.

  • Notable Feature: The American Eskimo Dog is known for its keen intelligence and is often a star in dog sports, including agility and obedience trials.
  • Tail Trait: The tail curls up and over the back, but isn’t tightly coiled, giving it a more relaxed appearance.

10. Keeshond


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The Keeshond is a medium-sized dog with origins in the Netherlands. It’s known for its fox-like expression and distinctive mane of fur. Its plume-like tail curls tightly over its back and lies flat.

  • Notable Feature: The Keeshond is highly sociable and is known for its distinctive, fox-like expression, emphasized by markings and shading around its eyes.
  • Tail Trait: The Keeshond’s tail curls tightly over its back and lies flat, often blending seamlessly with its distinctive mane of fur.

11. Swedish Vallhund

Swedish Vallhund

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The Swedish Vallhund is a small, powerful dog known for its agility and herding abilities. Originating from Sweden, it resembles a wolf but in a smaller package. Its tail can be long, stubby, or anywhere in between, but when long, it usually curls over the back.

  • Notable Feature: The Swedish Vallhund is highly agile and is often used in herding trials, displaying an innate talent for directing livestock.
  • Tail Trait: The tail varies in length but often curls over the back when it is long, adding a unique element to its wolf-like appearance.

12. Finnish Spitz

Finnish Spitz

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The Finnish Spitz is Finland’s national dog and is known for its pointed ears, fox-like face, and dense red coat. Its tail curls up over its back in a single or double curl.

  • Notable Feature: Notably used for hunting in its native country, the Finnish Spitz has a “bark point” that is used to signal hunters when game is found.
  • Tail Trait: The tail can either form a single or double curl, adding versatility to its overall appearance.

13. Icelandic Sheepdog

Icelandic Sheepdog

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The Icelandic Sheepdog is Iceland’s only native dog. This small-to-medium-sized dog is agile and hardy, often used for herding sheep in the Icelandic countryside. Its bushy tail curls up and over its back.

  • Notable Feature: As Iceland’s only native dog, the Icelandic Sheepdog is integral to the country’s history, often cited in ancient Norse literature.
  • Tail Trait: The bushy tail forms a loose curl, adding an extra layer of fluffiness to its appearance.

14. Kai Ken

Kai Ken

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The Kai Ken is a rare Japanese breed known for its brindle coat and keen hunting skills. The tail is thick and sturdy, curling up over the back in a sickle shape.

  • Notable Feature: The Kai Ken is one of the rarest and most ancient of the Japanese dog breeds, highly revered for its loyalty and natural hunting abilities.
  • Tail Trait: The thick, sturdy tail curls in a sickle shape over its back, complementing its brindle coat.

15. Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise

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The Bichon Frise is a small, fluffy white dog originally from the Mediterranean region. Well-known for its cheerful disposition and hypoallergenic coat, the Bichon Frise is a favorite among families and allergy sufferers alike. Its tail is gracefully curved and rests on its back.

  • Notable Feature: Bichon Frises are often recommended for people with allergies due to their hypoallergenic coat, which also requires frequent grooming.
  • Tail Trait: The Bichon Frise’s tail is lightly curled, resting elegantly on its back, which adds to its cheerful and buoyant appearance.

Caring for Curly Tailed Dogs


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1. General Care

Curly-tailed dogs, like all dogs, require a balanced diet, regular exercise, and periodic vet check-ups. Breeds with thick, curled tails such as the Samoyed and Alaskan Malamute might need special attention during grooming to avoid matting and tangles.

2. Grooming Requirements

The grooming needs for curly-tailed dogs can vary depending on the breed. For instance, breeds like the Pug and Shiba Inu have shorter fur and may require less intensive grooming compared to breeds with fluffier tails like the Samoyed. Specialized brushes designed for your dog’s coat type can be helpful in maintaining a healthy tail and coat.

3. Tail Health

Tail health is an important consideration for breeds with curled tails. The curl often brings the tail closer to the body, making these tails more susceptible to issues like trapped moisture or fecal matter. Therefore, it’s advisable to regularly inspect the tail area for signs of infection or irritation, especially for dogs with tightly curled tails that may trap debris.

4. Exercise Needs

Exercise requirements can also differ among breeds with curly tails. For example, high-energy breeds such as the Basenji and Swedish Vallhund might need more rigorous and frequent exercise routines. On the other hand, some brachycephalic breeds like the Pug could be content with moderate exercise, as strenuous activity may pose health risks.

5. Behavioral Traits and Tail Curl

The curl in a dog’s tail is often indicative of its mood. A normally curly tail hanging down may signify stress or discomfort, while a tight curl can mean the dog is happy or alert. As such, being attuned to the typical curl and carriage of your dog’s tail can help you better understand its mood or even spot potential health issues.


From understanding the genetics behind the curl to learning about 15 popular breeds, we’ve covered all the angles when it comes to dogs with curly tails. Whether you’re a dog lover or just curious, these distinctive canines offer something special for everyone.

AboutCorinne Switzer

Corinne is an avid reader and takes a keen interest in conspiracy theories. When not busy with her day job, she likes to indulge the writer in her and pens columns on a wide range of topics that cover everything from entertainment, healthy living to healthcare and more.