Do Boston Terriers Have Tails?

Updated on July 29, 2019
Ashley Ryan P profile image

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

Boston Terriers With Tails
Boston Terriers With Tails | Source

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 AKC, 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 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, stub tail
  • It does NOT mean your Boston isn't full blood. It only means your Boston is merely different!


"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!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Emmy, with her tail!My 8 week old Boston with a full length crooked tail
Emmy, with her tail!
Emmy, with her tail!
My 8 week old Boston with a full length crooked tail
My 8 week old Boston with a full length crooked tail

Have you ever seen a Boston Terrier with a full-length tail?

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

Questions & Answers

    © 2014 Ash Ryan


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      • profile image

        Steffeni Crowley 

        7 weeks ago

        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!!!

      • profile image

        Bernadette kelly 

        6 months ago

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

      • profile image


        9 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        Jack Johnson 

        15 months ago

        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,

      • profile image


        21 months ago

        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

      • profile image

        Barbie Lawson 

        2 years ago

        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.

      • profile image

        Katelyn Rivera 

        3 years ago

        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!

      • profile image

        Glenn Hanson 

        3 years ago

        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 profile image

        Elaine Robles 

        3 years ago from Wamego, Kansas

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

      • Ashley Ryan P profile imageAUTHOR

        Ash Ryan 

        5 years ago from Red Dirt Country

        Thank you!!

      • alexadry profile image

        Adrienne Farricelli 

        5 years ago

        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!

      • JayeWisdom profile image

        Jaye Denman 

        5 years ago from Deep South, USA

        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++



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