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Do Boston Terriers Have Tails?

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Ash has a Boston Terrier with a full-length tail named Emmy.

Boston Terriers With Tails

Boston Terriers With Tails

Boston Terriers Are Born With "Stubs"

Boston Terriers are often referred to as "the American Gentleman" due to his tuxedo appearance. They originated in Boston, Massachusetts, from cross-breeding the English Bulldog and the White English Terrier. According to the American Kennel Club, their breed standard consists of having a short muzzle, wide-set eyes, a wrinkle-free but adorable face, and the lack of a long tail.

Wait. You mean they're born without a tail?!

Why, yes! Yes, they are!

The reason why you probably won't find much information on this tailless breed having tails is because it doesn't happen enough, but it does happen enough for some people to question it!

The majority of Boston Terriers you come across will have what breeders and owners alike will call a "nub." Most often, they're born with a tail this way. According to the AKC, a full-length tail disqualifies the dog from registration. The tail is not to exceed more than a quarter the distance from their back to the top of their hind legs.

Are Boston Terriers Always Born Without Tails?

I cannot tell you how often I've come across people who claim "your dog isn't full blood because he has a tail" or "why didn't you have his tail docked because now you can't register him?" These people are merely misinformed. Docking a tail also disqualifies from registration and, while the chances of having a dog with a full-length tail are rare, this does NOT mean your Boston isn't full blood.

We have two Boston Terriers, both of which came from litters where no other puppy had a full-length tail. Every sibling was fully registered, as were both parents, but we decided to pick out the unfortunate ones because now we have a reason to love them even more. They're different!

Facts About Boston Terrier Tails

  • They are not all born with a stub tail, but having to dock a tail is immediate disqualification from registration.
  • There are a number of types of tails they may have—screw tail, crooked tail, gaily tail, or stub tail.
  • It does NOT mean your Boston isn't full blood. It only means your Boston is merely different!

Tail and Spinal Deformities in Boston Terriers


Hemivertebrae refers to the bones in the spine that are abnormally shaped which often leads to the tail having incorrectly aligned bones as well. When this happens, the nerves and spinal cord can become squished and damaged with the deformed bones pushing into them.

Symptoms of Hemivertebrae

Normally the symptoms will start off when you'll notice your dog having pain in the tail. If this isn't the first sign, wobbliness and loss of hind leg function can occur as well. The screw tail is most often the main cause of this disease due to the bones being twirled and crushing the spinal column and nerves. The pain can often be severe, as well. They can lose control of their bladder and bowels, however, some dogs don't have symptoms at all and will live a long happy life with their abnormally shaped tail.

Hemivertebrae and Genetics

It's usually impossible to determine whether or not your Boston Terrier will develop this condition, however, this breed has a tendency to have this problem just like any other short-muzzled curly-tailed breed. All Bostons will be prone to the disorder, it's just a matter of whether or not yours will specifically have it.

Treatment of Hemivertebrae

In not so severe cases, treatment will usually consist of anti-inflammatory drugs. The more severe cases will usually require a surgery called hemilaminectomy in order to relieve the bones pressing on the spinal cord. This surgery will cost around $1500 - $4000 for one location of the bones that needs treated. If it's a chronic disorder all through the Boston's body, that would require more surgeries.

"Crooked-Tail Emmy"—Our Lovely Boston

Emmy was adopted through a breeding family. All of her brother and sisters had a "nub" tail, but Emmy was born with this different little crooked thing. Often, when a tail is crooked or spiraled, it's a result of a spinal deformity. On Emmy, there seem to be no signs of any spinal problems thus far, but we're well aware they could pop up in the future. When it's deformed, expect there to be some sort of pain as they grow. The bent part is tender, and when it gets bumped on something, it could easily hurt!

So, why don't we have it docked, you say? Well, simple. It's a part of her spine! I've heard too many times of people docking tails on older puppies which often left them paralyzed or having to be euthanized. So we're sticking with her funky looking tail for now!

A Cute Boston With a Tail Playing With Tailless Friends

Finding the Different Kind of Breed

We looked around for so long in search of another Boston Terrier with a tail. Why have a normal Boston and a "deformed" Boston? Well, after a year or so of searching, we came across Emmy. Just like Dexter, she was the only one in her family with a full sized tail. Everyone else was registered but due to Emmy not fitting the breed "standard", no one wanted her so she was cheaper and still just as wonderful as any "normal" Boston!

Never let someone judge you because your furry family member is different. You'll often hear people making comments about your furbaby. Remarks that could easily make you angry! But just remember, not everyone is as educated as you are now!

Dexter, the only one in his litter with a full length tail.

Dexter, the only one in his litter with a full length tail.

Preventing Future Tail Problems

The only real way to eliminate the tail deformities and spinal problems in Boston Terriers is to simply stop breeding the malformed Bostons. When breeding, this puts another litter out there with a genetic predisposition to having these same problems which just adds the issue to the gene pool even more. There are two simple ways to go about preventing future problems with their tails and bones:

  • Only mating the standard breed with another standard breed
  • Only mating a standard breed with a straight tailed breed (whether it's long or short)

In order to do this, spaying and neutering any Boston with a crooked or screw tail would benefit the most.

Dexter sometimes likes to take over Emmy's bed. You can see that he has a full length tail, but unlike Emmy's crooked tail, Dexter's is perfectly straight.

Dexter sometimes likes to take over Emmy's bed. You can see that he has a full length tail, but unlike Emmy's crooked tail, Dexter's is perfectly straight.

All Dogs Deserve to Be Loved

Just remember, Boston's are great companions. They're so loving, love to be loved, and love to PLAY! Just because your Boston may or may not have a tail, doesn't mean he/she doesn't want to be loved any less. Being born with an extra body part just makes them have more to love, not less!

© 2014 Ash Ryan


Betty Wright on June 18, 2020:

I have a male and a female boston terriers males name is soxs and female is roxy the male is 5 years old and the female is about 2 years old i found her last year on the streets my male has a nub tail and female has long crooked tail they are the best dogs i have every had the male still potties in the house sometimes and he is very stubban the girl is very smart and listen do well they had a litter of pups about 6 months ago and they both was the best parents ever i swear they both took care of them one of them was always with them they are the most most loving dogs i have ever had great dogs to have

Steffeni Crowley on April 11, 2020:

My Fiona has a long beautiful straight tail and a FB friend of mine was like “wait I’m confused...what kind of dog is she?” His mom supposedly breed them so you think he’d know. She’s unmistakably Boston. He just wanted to get a rise out of me I think lol I educated him that she wasn’t the breed “standard” but just as beautiful and pure as any other Boston...I do wish I could post a picture of her on here...thanks for having a place for us to connect w others who are unique!!!

Bernadette kelly on November 30, 2019:

Interested in feedback on Boston Terriers female born without a tail thanks

Paul on August 10, 2019:

I have a 1yr old male boston named Baxter. He has a long black tail thats white at the end. He's perfectly healthy and beautiful. He was also the only one of his litter born with a tail. I couldn't ask for a better dog.

Jack Johnson on February 26, 2019:

We had a Boston with a perfect (no abnormalities) long tail and her nose was a little longer than others in her litter. She was given to us because they could not sell her as a registered Boston. We have had other registered Bostons, but she was the smartest dog we ever had and lived 15 years. I hope I come across another chance to get a long tail Boston,

Melissa on September 08, 2018:

A Boston can be registered with any length of tail. But there is a standard to what length it can have to be shown in conformation. You can get all the correct info on the Boston Terrier Club of America website

Barbie Lawson on March 11, 2018:

We got a girl Boston Terrier name Piper and she has a full tail. Her sister had a screw tail and also parents. She chases her tail and fights with her tail all the time.

Katelyn Rivera on January 02, 2017:

I have a female Boston who has a full length tail. She was the only in the litter with a full length tail. She recently had 6 pups with another full bred Boston and 3 had full length tails and the other 3 had the nub tails. Unfortunately the 3 with the nub tails didn't survive. We love our pups it makes it extra fun to see her excited wagging her tail the way other dogs would!

Glenn Hanson on December 13, 2016:

I recently adopted my 4th Boston "Dixie" and she has a full length tail. I always thought they were docked, now I know. I like them with tails better, I can tell Dixie's mood better than my other Boston's.

Elaine Robles from Wamego, Kansas on August 10, 2016:

I have a Boston name Buster he does not have a tail or a stub.

Ash Ryan (author) from Red Dirt Country on October 17, 2014:

Thank you!!

Adrienne Farricelli on October 15, 2014:

I loved reading this hub and your philosophy on tails: "Being born with an extra body part just makes them have MORE to love, not less!" Well said, voted up!

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on October 13, 2014:

The Boston breed standard allows the 'nub', the short but straight, as well as the 'screw tail.' When my son was young, he had a Boston with the screw tail. He chose the dog because he thought the corkscrew-shaped tail was 'neat', not knowing that the same genes which produce the screw tail may also produce spinal malformation that can be serious. Fortunately, his dog was healthy and lived a good life. But screw tails are common. Anyone considering one for a pet should be aware of the danger spinal birth defects that cause major problems may be present in a Boston with the corkscrew tail. Even if the breeder is reputable, having a vet check the pup's spine before making a final decision should be allowed.

Voted Up++