25 Dog Breeds With Curly Tails

Dog tails have many purposes, from communication to stability to, ahem, sharing their scent with other dogs. Dog tails are also cute. Who doesn’t love to see a dog happily wagging its tail?

There are many types of dog tails, including curly tails. There’s even variety within the “curly” category, including snap, corkscrew, sickle, and other types that we’ll get to later.

There are many dog breeds with curly tails, including Akitas, Malamutes, American Eskimo Dogs, Finnish Spitzes, Norwegian Elkhounds, Pomeranians, Samoyeds, Huskies, and several others. Curly tailed dogs originate from all over the globe, including Scandinavia, Russia, Japan, China, Germany, Israel, and Congo.

This post covers everything you want to know about curly dog tails, from anatomy to the origin and details of 25 different curly-tailed dog breeds.

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Why do some dogs have curly tails?

There’s a couple ways of answering this question. The anatomical reason for curly tails is “hemivertebrae“, meaning that the bones in a dog’s tail (which is an extension of the spine) are wedge-shaped, causing a spiral shape in the tail. Sometimes, hemivertebrae can become fused together.

For dog breeds listed in this article, hemivertebrae are normal and expected. That’s how they get their curly tails. But, dogs can also hemivertebrae as a medical condition in their spine, causing health issues. This condition is similar to scoliosis in humans and can be detected with X-rays.

From an evolutionary standpoint, the reason for curly tails is less clear. As we’ll see in a minute, there are groups of dog breeds (such as Scandinavian breeds) that all have curly tails. For cold breed dogs such as these, fluffy, curly tails are very useful. When the dog is resting or sleeping, curled up in a cozy ball, it can cover its nose and face with its tail. It seems like a well-positioned fluffy tail (curly or not), could keep a dog’s nose warm, but that’s just my take.

But other breeds are definitely not cold-weather creatures, such as the Basenji (from central Africa) and the Chihuahua (from Mexico). The reason for these dogs’ curly tails is less clear.

Different Types of Curled Dog Tails

Curliness is in the eye of the beholder. While all the dogs in this article have curly tails to one extent or another, there are actually different varieties of curly tails, including:

Corkscrew: when a tail is so tightly curled that it forms a complete loop back onto itself. On short-haired dog breeds such as Pugs, these tails may also be called “pig tails”.

Sickle: tails that have a curve to them but do not form a complete circle. Many dog breeds on this list have naturally varying levels of tail curliness within the dog breed.

Snap tail: another name for curly tails, particularly cold-climate dogs whose tail curl up and back over the dog’s spine. A dog’s tail that is pulled back towards the dog’s head is known as a “snapped” tail.

Dog Breeds with Fluffy Curled Tails

Speaking of cold-weather pups… the majority of the dogs on this list are breeds from colder regions, and as a result, have long, thick coats, including their tails. AKC-recognized breeds with tails that are both curly and fluffy include:

  • Akita
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • American Akita
  • American Eskimo Dog
  • Eurasier
  • Finnish Spitz
  • German Spitz
  • Icelandic Sheepdog
  • Keeshond
  • Norwegian Buhund
  • Norwegian Elkhound
  • Pomeranian
  • Samoyed
  • Siberian Husky
  • Swedish Lapphund
  • Swedish Vallhund
  • Tibetan Mastiff

These dogs have long, fluffy hair on their tails. In some cases, this can disguise the curled tail shape, because their tail looks like one big “poof”. This list also includes dogs with so-called “sickle” tails, meaning the tail is curved in a half-circle shape, but does not fully curl back on itself. Many of these breeds are known as Spitz-dogs, a dog breed group that encompasses over three dozen different breeds from around the world.

Dog Breeds with Corkscrew Tails

Tails that are so curly they form a complete loop are called “corkscrew” tails. Dog breeds with corkscrew tails include Pugs, Basenji, and Bulldogs. These breeds typically have very tightly curled tails. Coupled with the breeds’ short hair, this gives the appearance of a “pig tail”.

Small Dog Breeds with Curly Tails

Many of the dogs on this list are larger breeds, but there are many small dogs with curly tails too, including Pomeranians, American Eskimo Dogs,Keeshonds, Swedish Vallhunds, Pugs, and some Chihuahuas.

25 Dog Breeds with Curly Tails

We’ve briefly talked about different dog breeds, but let’s get into each one in detail. Since all of these dogs are good dogs, the “ranking” is purely alphabetical.

1. (Japanese) Akita

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Akitas are an ancient Japanese breed of dog with fluffy curled tails, and pointed ears. They are related to the American Akita but are slightly smaller, with pointier ears and a more “fox-like” face. American Akitas, by comparison, look more bear-like, with slightly rounded ears and a wider face.

Both breeds can come in a variety of colors including brindle, red, tan, and black.

AKC’s description of this breed as “profoundly loyal” is no joke–a Japanese Akita named Hachikō famously walked to the train station every day to greet his owner after work. His owner unexpectedly died, but Hachikō continued to wait at the train station every day for nine years, until Hachikō passed away. Talk about man’s best friend!

  • Size: 24-28″ tall
  • Weight: 70-130 lbs
  • Group: Working
  • AKC says: “Dignified, Courages, and Profoundly Loyal”

2. Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamutes are beautiful Working Group dogs with curled or snap tails. Their heavy coat is testament to their likely origin as a cold-weather sled dog breed. They are strong and strong-willed.

No surprise here: the Alaskan Malamute is the state dog of Alaska. But you might not know that this curly-tailed breed is a favorite of actor Robin Williams and director George Lucas.

  • Size: 23-25″ tall
  • Weight: 75-85 lbs
  • Group: Working
  • AKC says: “Loyal, Playful, Affectionate”

3. American Akita

American Akitas are similar to the first breed on this list, Japanese Akitas. Much like their cousins, American Akitas have curly, fluffy tails, and pointed ears. However, their faces look a bit wider and more “bear-like” than the Japanese version. Additionally, they are typically larger than Japanese Akitas.

Akitas are guardians by nature, protective and loving of their families and skeptical of strangers.

  • Size: 24-28″ tall
  • Weight: 70-130 lbs
  • Group: Working
  • AKC says: “Dignified, Courages, and Profoundly Loyal”

4. American Eskimo Dog

Up next is the American Eskimo Dog. This breed has beautiful white fur and a curled, fluffy tail. American Eskimo Dogs come in three different sizes, including a Toy variety for those looking for a small, curly-tailed dog.

American Eskimo Dogs are said to have a “smiling” face, and are easily trainable and eager to please.

Did you know that Barnum and Bailey had a tightrope-walking American Eskimo Dog named Pierre? Pierre’s fame contributed to the breed’s popularity in the 1930s, and many of today’s American Eskimo Dogs are descended from these circus pups.

  • Size: 9-12″ (Toy), 12-15″ (Miniature), 15-19″ (Standard)
  • Weight: 6-10 lbs (Toy), 10-20 lbs (Miniature), 25-35 lbs (Standard)
  • Group: Non-Working
  • AKC says: “Loyal, Versatile, Smart”

5. Basenji

Basenjis are a breed of dog that famously cannot bark; instead, they yodel. Basenjis have a tight, corkscrew tail and short fur, as the dog originated in central Africa.

Basenjis sometimes stand on their hind legs when interested in something. Speaking of which, they have a high prey drive and often compete in lure coursing. Watch out though, a 1994 study on dog intelligence found Basenjis to be smart but also the “world’s second least trainable dog” (Afghan Hounds were in last place, if you were wondering).

  • Size: 16-17″ tall
  • Weight: 22-24 lbs
  • Group: Hound
  • AKC says: “Independent, Smart, Poised”

6. Bulldog

Bulldogs can have straight, curly, or docked tails. The dogs with curled tails can look like they have no tail at all, since it is so short and tightly wound (corkscrew).

Bulldogs are an old breed, dating back to the 13th century where “bullbaiting” (a staked bull fighting a pack of dogs) was a form of entertainment.

These dogs are popular in the US, ranking as the 5th most popular dog breed in the US in 2021. They are also brachycephalic dogs, meaning that they have a short snout that might contribute to snoring or snorting noises.

  • Size: 14-15″ tall
  • Weight: 40-50 lbs
  • Group: Non-Sporting
  • AKC says: “Friendly, Courageous, Calm”

7. Canaan Dog

Canaan Dogs are an ancient curly-tailed breed originating in Israel. They can come in variety of colors, such as tan, black, white, or a mix of colors. They have a a tail that curls back onto itself, nearly into a circle.

They are adept at being watchdogs and have been used as flock guardians for ages, although the breed standard did not exist until 1966. Due to their strong-willed nature, they may not be good pets for first-time dog owners.

  • Size: 19-24″ tall
  • Weight: 35-55 lbs
  • Group: Herding
  • AKC says: “Alert, Vigilant, Confident”

8. Chihuahua

Chihuahuas are a well-known Toy breed that can have straight, curled, or snap tails. They come in a variety of colors and also a variety of hair lengths. This breed traces its history back to pre-Columbian America, and shares its name with a region of Mexico.

There’s no shortage of famous Chihuahuas, from the Taco Bell commercials of the 90s, to Paris Hilton’s “purse dog” Chihuahua, to the cartoon Ren & Stimpy.

  • Size: 5-8″ tall
  • Weight: <6 lbs
  • Group: Toy
  • AKC says: “Charming, Graceful, Sassy”

9. Chow Chow

Chow Chows are a breed from China, with a dignified appearance, fluffy coat, and curled tail. Interestingly enough, they have black tongues, which provide a surprising contrast to their red coats.

Chow Chows have appeared in Han Dynasty artifacts, circa 206 BC. They were also kept by monks in China and Mongolia. In present day, they are the favorite breed of Martha Stewart.

  • Size: 17-20″ tall
  • Weight: 45-70 lbs
  • Group: Non-Sporting
  • AKC says: “Dignified, Bright, Serious-Minded”

10. Eurasier

Eurasier is a Spitz-type dog, meaning they have a heavy coat, fluffy curled tail, pointed ears, and likely originated in an Arctic region. They are a combination of Chow Chows, Keeshond, and Samoyeds, standardized into their own breed in 2012. Eurasiers are fun-loving family dogs.

  • Size: 19-24″ tall
  • Weight: 40-70 lbs
  • Group: Non-Sporting Group
  • AKC says: “Confident, Calm, Family-Oriented”

11. Finnish Spitz

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

The next breed on the list is a Finnish Spitz, which also has a thick coat, curly tail, pointed ears. It’s no surprise that the Finnish Spitz originated in Finland, where they worked as “bark pointer”, alerting a hunter to animals by barking. Because of this, many Finnish Spitzes are vocal dogs. They have a sharp, intelligent, almost fox-like face shared with many other Spitz breeds on this list.

  • Size: 15.5-20″ tall
  • Weight: 20-33 lbs
  • Group: Non-Sporting
  • AKC says: “Good-natured, Friendly, Lively”

12. German Spitz

German Spitzes include several size varieties, all of which have a thick coat, curly tail, and pointed ears. The breed group technically includes Pomeranians and Keeshonds, but the AKC recognizes these as separate breeds. These breed variants were standardized in Germany, but may have originally been from other Nordic Spitz breeds.

  • Size: 8-12″ (Toy), 12-16″ (Medium), 16-20″ (Large)
  • Weight: 10-11 lbs (Toy), 15-25 lbs (Medium), 30-50 lbs (Large)
  • Group: none
  • AKC says:”Active, Devoted, Smart”

13. Icelandic Sheepdog

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Icelandic Sheepdogs are fox-like herding dogs from Iceland with thick, waterproof coats, and curly or snap tails. They are another Spitz variety, with a happy face and alert mind. The breed almost went extinct but was brought back by the Icelandic Dog Breeder Association starting in 1969.

  • Size: 16.5-18″ tall
  • Weight: 25-30 lbs
  • Group: Herding
  • AKC says: “Friendly, Playful, Inquisitive”

14. Karelian Bear Dog

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Have you heard of a Karelian Bear Dog before? Their name sounds like something out of a Star Wars movie. Karelian Bear Dogs are another Finnish breed with a variety of coat colors, sharply pointed ears, and a curled tail. They are hunting dogs that would, much like the Finnish Spitz, work as a “bark pointer” to alert hunters to game animals, including bears. They are social with people but less so with dogs and other animals.

  • Size: 19-24″ tall
  • Weight: 44-49 lbs
  • Group: none
  • AKC says: “Independent, Loyal, Courageous”

15. Keeshond

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Keeshonds are a type of German Spitz that have been standardized into an AKC breed. They have heavy coats that make them look bigger than they really are, pointed ears, and curled, fluffy tails.

The Keeshond is a popular dog in the Netherlands, living on barges, giving it the nickname “the Smiling Dutchman“. Did you know that Princess Diana owned a Keeshond has a child?

Size: 17-18″ tall
Weight: 35-45 lbs
Group: Non-Sporting
AKC says: “Friendly, Lively, Outgoing”

16. Norwegian Buhund

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Norwegian Buhunds are a Nordic spitz dog with pointed ears and a tightly curled tail. They are medium-sized dogs but with a storied history, living and traveling with the Vikings from 1200 years ago. They are close relatives of the Icelandic Sheepdog, likely due to their Viking ancestry. They are very smart dogs but need regular activity.

  • Size: 16-19″ tall
  • Weight: 26-40 lbs
  • Group: Herding
  • AKC says: “Confident, Smart, Perceptive”

17. Norwegian Elkhound

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Norwegian Elkhounds are another Spitz breed with Viking origins. They have a silver-grayish coat, tightly curled or snap tail, and pointed ears. Their color and size give them a slightly wolf-like appearance. The translation of the breed’s name from Norwegian is “Norsk elghund”, meaning “Norwegian moose dog”.

An ancient Norwegian Elkhound skeleton was found at the Viste Cave in Jaeren, Norway; a Viking archeological site believed to be over 4000 years old.

  • Size: 19.5-20.5″ tall
  • Weight: 48-55 lbs
  • Group: Hound
  • AKC says: “Friendly, Confident, Dependable”

18. Pomeranian

Pomeranians are lovely companion dogs with a heavy coat (that hides their small stature) and a curled tail. While they are not quite in the top 20 most popular breeds anymore, they remain a mainstay in American cities, and make good family dogs.

They are from the Pomerania region, which spans parts of Poland and Germany. Queen Victoria owned Pomeranians… nowadays, Boo the Pomeranian is the reigning dog monarch of Facebook with 15 million followers.

  • Size: 6-7″ tall
  • Weight: 3-7 lbs
  • Group: Toy
  • AKC says: “Inquisitive, Lively, Bold”

19. Pug

Pugs are popular, distinctive dogs with short, tan coats and a corkscrew tail. They were brought from China to Europe in the 1700s where they became popular in the Netherlands and the UK.

They are good family dogs, well-suited to apartment living, and make good companions. Another brachycephalic breed, they are prone to breathing and snoring issues.

  • Size: 10-13″ tall
  • Weight: 14-18 lbs
  • Group: Toy
  • AKC says: “Charming, Loving, Mischievous”

20. Samoyed

The Samoyed is a Spitz dog of Russian origin with a beautiful white coat, pointed ears, and curled tail hidden under their fluffy coat. The breed is known for their distinctive smiling face, and indeed they are friendly companion animals. According to the AKC, their happy smiles serve an additional purpose: it keeps them from drooling, which in Siberia would have meant icicles forming.

  • Size: 19-23″ tall
  • Weight: 35-65 lbs
  • Group: Working
  • AKC says: “Friendly, Gentle, Adaptable”

21. Shiba Inu

The Shina Inu is a famous Japanese breed with a short, dense coat that is reddish tan in color, along with a curled tail. They are originally hunting dogs and remain popular in Japan to this day.

You will undoubtedly recognize the Shiba Inu from the “doge” meme, which now has a cryptocurrency named after it. The meme dog’s real name is Kabosu, an Internet-famous Shiba Inu.

  • Size: 13.5-16.5″ tall
  • Weight: 17-23 lbs
  • Group: Non-Sporting
  • AKC says: “Alert, Active, Attentive”

22. Siberian Husky

Technically speaking, many Siberian Huskies have “sickle” tails rather than a tail with a full curl. This beautiful cold-weather breed can have straight, curled, sickle, or snap tails. Their black, grey, and white coats and striking eyes are easily recognizable. It’s no surprise that they were the 15th most popular dog breed in 2021.

Their heavy coat and strong build make them well-suited for dog sledding (check out this post for dog sledding novels). Huskies are also known for being very vocal.

  • Size: 20-24″ tall
  • Weight: 35-60 lbs
  • Group: Working
  • AKC says: “Loyal, Outgoing, Mischievous”

23. Swedish Lapphund

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Another Spitz-type dog, the Swedish Lapphund is a beautiful black-haired breed with a curly tail. It’s also one of the oldest breeds in Sweden. We have a post with Swedish dog names, which includes more information on this lovely breed.

  • Size: 16-20″ tall
  • Weight: 30-45 lbs
  • Group: none
  • AKC says: “Intelligent, Playful, Lively”

24. Swedish Vallhund

The second Swedish breed on this list, the Swedish Vallhund is a shorter herding dog with a dense, sable coat and curled or snap tail. There’s something almost Corgi-like about them. Having shorter legs means they’re closer to the ground and can herd larger animals while deftly avoiding kicks.

Again, if you’re interested in Swedish dogs or Swedish dog names, check out this post.

  • Size: 11.5-14″ tall
  • Weight: 20-35 lbs
  • Group: Herding
  • AKC says: “Friendly, Energetic, Watchful”

25. Tibetan Mastiff

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Last but not least is the majestic Tibetan Mastiff, a black and tan long-coated breed with a curly, fluffy tail. They are mellow and loyal dogs.

They’re a hardy breed, which makes sense, as the Himalayas are not an easy place to live. They used to protect Buddhist monasteries. DNA testing has shown that the Great Pyrenees, Bernese Mountain Dog, Rottweiler, and St. Bernard are possible descendants of the Tibetan Mastiff breed.

Tibetan Mastiffs (and Tibetan Spaniels) were raised by Tibetan monks, with photos dating back into the late 1800s.

  • Size: 24-26″ tall
  • Weight: 70-150 lbs
  • Group: Working
  • AKC says: “Reserved, Independent, Intelligent”

Other Breeds with Curly Tails

Of course, we don’t want to miss an opportunity to say how much we love rescue and mixed breed dogs! The dogs on the list above are all AKC-recognized breeds, but there are plenty of newer breed combinations (such as Goldendoodles) and mixed dogs of all varieties that can have curly tails.

Conclusion

And there you have it, over two dozen different varieties of dogs with curly tails. These pups have origins all over the globe, ranging from Finland to Congo to China.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article. Which breeds are your favorite? Do you have a curly tailed dog?

PuppyLists is written by J., who has owned, trained, volunteered with, and loved dogs for nearly three decades. When she isn't writing or researching, she's out adventuring with her 14 year old Lab mix.

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