Why Do Some American Bullies Have Short Tails?

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American Bullies are a new breed of dog that has gained popularity worldwide.

Having a pregnant female American Bully is very exciting as the breed is relatively expensive, and it is challenging to produce quality puppies. However, having a puppy with a short tail can be alarming to pet owners.

Some American Bullies are born with short tails due to a congenital defect or a genetic mutation. Injuries sustained while the puppy is in its mother’s womb may cause deformities. On the other hand, possessing a bobtail gene mutation can also result in a short tail.

While it is not rare to find dogs with short tails, some people prefer those that conform to the standards set by global registries. This article will discuss why some American Bullies have short tails, their possible impacts on the dogs’ health, and how to ensure you’re breeding long-tailed ones.

What Is the Standard Tail Length and Appearance of American Bullies?

american bully playing

Dogs display numerous physical differences even among those of the same breed. As a result, many organizations worldwide created an official registry that determines specific dog breeds’ acceptable and standard appearance.

According to the American Bully Kennel Club, an American Bully’s tail must be long enough to reach the hocks and free from kinks, curves, or knots. Extremely short tails or those extending only up to one inch above the hock are also considered faults.

A dog’s tail length is only a matter of preference and the owner’s plans with the dog. If you are keeping an American Bully because you love the breed’s personality and consider the dog a part of your family, its tail length shouldn’t be any problem.

However, suppose you plan to be a breeder of high-quality pedigree puppies or want to join dog show competitions. In that case, it may pose some problems since American Bullies with short or bobbed tails are subject to disqualification.

Reasons Why Some American Bullies Have Short Tails

Natural and unnatural reasons contribute to the American Bullies’ tail length and appearance. While some of them are beyond our control, some result from owners’ personal decisions to protect the dog or prevent life-threatening situations.

Congenital Defect

Puppies born from a mother dog who sustained some injuries while pregnant may suffer from tail malformation. In some cases, if there are multiple embryos in a litter, overcrowding in the uterus may also cause physical defects in some puppies.

Affected puppies may have short, kinked, or screwed tails, depending on the severity of the injury or overcrowding. These tail deformities may be accompanied by leg or gait problems which are observable as the dogs mature. However, in many cases, there are no other physical problems.

In addition to injuries or overcrowding, other possible causes of congenital defects affecting puppies are nutritional deficiency during the early stages of development and the mother dog’s stress or exposure to harmful chemicals during pregnancy.

A study also showed that some dog breeds experienced congenital vertebral malformations that led to tail deformities despite being neurologically healthy. The study included English Bulldogs, which are among the progenitors of the American Bully.

In many cases of congenital tail deformities, dogs can live normally. Some of them may even be corrected if discovered early on. For instance, regular massages and exercises may help straighten kinks in the tails of puppies less than six months old.

However, if the deformity proves to cause some movement difficulties or health risks, consulting a veterinarian for possible treatment or medical intervention may be necessary. Some veterinarians may even recommend tail amputation.

Genetic Mutation

Some organizations recognize American Bullies as a new breed. However, they originally came from the American Pitbull Terrier mixed in with genetic traits of other breeds, such as the English Bulldog. Some English Bulldogs have been known to have short tails.

The natural bobtail (NBT) mutation occurs in many breeds of dogs. A dog that inherits the mutated gene from one of its parents (i.e., NBT maternal gene and normal tail paternal gene) will naturally have a bobbed or short tail because it is a dominant trait. 

Meanwhile, even if both parents have short tails, some of their puppies can have long ones because possessing two normal recessive alleles results in a long tail. If both parents have long tails, on the other hand, the puppies in the litter are guaranteed to have long tails as well.

Having a short tail due to genetics, per se, does not pose any harmful effect on dogs, and they can live as normally and happily as their long-tailed siblings. However, organizations such as the United Kennel Club (UKC) and ABKC disqualify them from participating in confirmation events.

Dogs that inherit the trait from both parents (NBT maternal gene and NBT paternal gene) are most likely to die in the womb because a study discovered that pure or homozygous natural bobtail (NBT) genes are lethal in the uterus. 

Those that survive from the uterus and are born eventually die from other health complications. There aren’t many studies available to explain why dogs with the homozygous NBT gene fail to survive into adulthood. 


While it is considered illegal in many countries, docking is legal and widely practiced in the US. Pet owners who dock their dogs’ tails do so to prevent injury, especially on working dogs whose long tails may pose some risks and hinder them from performing their tasks.

Some people also dock dogs’ tails for aesthetic purposes or due to a historical belief that it can prevent rabies. Many countries have already banned docking because there isn’t enough scientific evidence that supports or justifies these beliefs.

However, a medical procedure that requires amputation due to a debilitating tail deformity or injury is not considered docking. A veterinarian at the Schwarzman Animal Medical Center recommends tail amputation in cases where the surgical outcomes of the alternative may prove to be too risky.

Things To Consider When Breeding Long-Tailed American Bullies

american bully in the sand

If you plan to breed your American Bully and the other breeder’s dog has a short tail, you may want to check the dog’s pedigree and medical history first. If the dog’s short tail is due to genetics, there is a 25% probability of the puppies inheriting the trait.

Meanwhile, if the reason is docking or amputation, check the underlying causes because most American Bully owners would usually avoid docking their dogs’ tails in conformation with the ABKC standards. 

If the dog has a short tail due to amputation, confirm what situation required such a medical procedure. If it’s mainly due to injuries, you must still check if the dog doesn’t have any congenital disability or genetic mutation, which can be passed onto the offspring.

Registering your American Bully to the UKC or ABKC helps speed up the process because it can help guarantee that your dog is of good quality. The same is true if you are looking for a partner for your dog. Asking for a certificate of registration from the other dog’s owner can make the process easier and more secure.

Final Thoughts

An American Bully’s tail length or appearance does not significantly affect its personality. If you want to be a breeder, it is necessary to understand animal genetics to be sure that you achieve the result you are after.

Having a short-tailed American Bully as a family pet is just as much fun as having long-tailed ones, and if the supporters of docking are correct, it can also help prevent risks of your dog getting tail injuries. 

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