A poodle with a curled tail and a rope toy in it's mouth

Poodle Tail Curl: The Ultimate Guide For Owners & Breeders

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You’ve just got your gorgeous new poodle puppy, and for the first time, you’ve noticed its tail is now curled instead of straight. 

Or perhaps it was curled when you first saw your Poodle, but the breeder assured you it would grow out and straighten in time, but now you’re not so sure. 

Now you’re asking yourself a whole host of questions. Questions like, does this even matter, and if so, what does it mean for my Poodle? Can I still show my Poodle? Is there something wrong, and is there any way to straighten it?

This article will cover all of these and clear up any other doubts or questions you may have about your new pup’s curled tail.

A poodle tail curl may stop you from showing your dog, as most kennel clubs want a straight poodle tail rather than a curled one, regardless of whether the tail is docked. But, a tail curl isn’t anything to worry about regarding the health and well-being of your dog, provided any other symptoms or abnormalities do not accompany it.

What is a curled tail?

This may seem obvious, but It’s worth clarifying what we’re talking about here, as curled tails on certain show breeds are considered desirable. In contrast, the same tail on another show breed would be deeply undesirable.

The type of tail curl we’re talking about can be referred to as a ‘gay tail’ or ‘poodle gay tail’, which simply means ‘happy tail’ in this context. 

A gay tail in Poodles is where the dog’s tail will stick up and curl over the Poodle’s back.

Can poodles have curly tails?

It’s perfectly normal for poodles to have a tail curl. Although it’s not a breed necessarily associated with it, it certainly isn’t uncommon, and you don’t need to worry about it.

A poodle with a curled tail running through the grass.
A poodle with a curled tail running through the grass.

Why do Poodle’s tails curl?

A dog’s tail is simply an extension of its spine, and it’s perfectly normal for some breeds’ tails to curl naturally.

The tail curl can also be caused by hemivertebrae, although this is not often associated with poodles.

Hemivertebrae is a congenital condition where the vertebrae of the spine either fuse or develop as a wedge shape giving rise to the curvature or curl of the tail. 

In some dogs, typically breeds with longer tails, hemivertebrae will only cause the end of the tail to curl. 

Dog breeds with shorter tails can develop a corkscrew tail. This can be a sign of spinal problems in these breeds, which can be painful. 

The tail curl is hereditary, so puppies born to parents with tail curls are more likely to have it themselves. If you want a poodle with a straight tail, you should see both parents before picking your puppy out of the litter.

If you’re a breeder and one or both parents have tail curls, your puppies are also more likely to have tail curls.

Even if both parents have perfectly straight tails, you may still get a puppy with a curled tail, although it’s less likely than if the puppy comes from one or both parents with a curled tail.

Are there any health concerns associated with a poodle tail curl?

Providing your dog doesn’t have any other health issues, you don’t need to worry about your dog’s tail curling.

If you have a smaller poodle whose tail is very curled or shaped like a corkscrew, it would be worth checking with your veterinarian. 

Will a poodle tail curl stop me from showing my dog?

Whether or not you can show your dog depends on the kennel club, but most of them do want poodles with straight tails.

While a curled tail won’t stop you from showing your Poodle, it might make winning any major titles more challenging.

A poodle’s tail will also need to be docked if you intend to show your dog.

The American Kennel Clubs poodle breed Standard states explicitly the tail should be straight.

Tail straight, set on high and carried up, docked of sufficient length to insure a balanced outline”.

American Kennel Club Breed Standard

If you want to show your Poodle, take full advantage of its tail and make it a real showpiece. You can’t make it straight, so just own it and make it look glorious!

The Breed Standard for the Poodle is the same for the Standard, Toy, and Miniature Poodle varieties except for the dog’s height.

How do you straighten a poodle’s tail?

If your Poodle is young, their tail curl can straighten a little as they age, but this isn’t likely to result in the tail becoming completely straight.

Some people turn to surgery to try and straighten the tail, but this can be risky and painful for the dog and is not recommended. You will also find it challenging to find a veterinarian willing to help, and for a good reason.

Show poodles should have their tails docked, but this is performed when they’re young by either a veterinarian or an experienced breeder. 

You can take your dog to a groomer and ask them to work on the tail to make it look as straight as possible. Of course, there are limitations to what they can achieve, but you might be surprised by what a skilled dog groomer can achieve.


  1. Do poodles have curled tails?

    Yes, it’s perfectly normal for a poodle tail to be curled.

  2. Do miniature poodle’s tails curl?

    Yes, with a slightly shorter tail this can be more pronounced than the Standard poodle.

  3. Do toy poodle’s tails curl?

    Yes, as the tail is shorter than the larger poodle variants, this can be even more pronounced.

  4. Why do poodle’s tails curl?

    It can be an inherited trait from the parents or caused by wedge-shaped vertebrae.

  5. What is a gay tail in poodles?

    A gay tail sticks up and curls or arches over the dog’s back. This could refer to any dog’s tail, not just a Poodle. Gay references the dog’s mood and implies they’re happy and full of energy.

  6. Do poodle tails get docked?

    Yes, show dogs are expected to have their tails docked. However, it’s not necessary if you’re just looking for a companion.