A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

10 of the Sweetest Dogs with Curly Tails

All hail the curly tail!

The tail and paws of a beige pug dog on a bed at home
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The cutest curly tails

The tail is one of the most expressive parts of a dog, and it’s an aspect that always manages to fill pet owners with warmth. We smile when our dogs wag it in excitement, and we laugh when dogs chase their tails. Dogs with curly tails are particularly adorable—right up there with pups who have curly hair or floppy ears—and it turns out, the bend is coded into their DNA.

“Dogs who have tails that curl into an upward arch over their backs actually have a genetic condition,” explains Jamie Whittenburg, DVM, owner and director of Kingsgate Animal Hospital. “In these dogs, the vertebrae that compose the tail do not form normally, as in straight-tailed dogs. This type of tail is seen in basenjis, Alaskan malamutes, Akitas, Chow Chows, and pugs. The defect of the vertebrae in the tail is benign and does not cause the dog problems.”

We rounded up some of the cutest dogs with curly tails and asked Julie Burgess, a certified dog trainer with Senior Tail Waggers, what makes these pups so special. There are a ton of secrets your dog’s tail is trying to tell you, but here’s a not-so-hidden truth: Tails are just another part of a pup we can’t help but love. And make sure you read up on why dogs have tails in the first place.

Studio shot of Basenji dog posing
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There’s a reason the basenji is known as the “barkless dog”—basenjis really don’t bark! This breed communicates by making a sound similar to a yodel. Basenjis are relatively small, standing only 16 to 17 inches at the shoulder, and can be easily identified by their tightly curled tail, almond-shaped eyes, pointy ears, and wrinkled foreheads.

Personality traits:

  • Stubborn
  • High energy
  • Adaptable

back view of Pomeranian dog
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This tiny toy dog is a crowd favorite, with its fox-like face, fluffy coat, and big-dog attitude. Pomeranians can have any of a couple dozen fur colors, but their hair most often carries orange and red tones. Physicality aside, these little guys are easily trained, make for alert watchdogs, and get along well with children. Since they are so small and can get the appropriate amount of exercise with indoor play, Pomeranians are perfect for city dwellers.

Personality traits:

  • Affectionate
  • Adaptable
  • Lively

Shiba Inu standing on grass outside
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Shiba Inu

Shiba Inu is an ancient Japanese breed that once served its people as a great hunter. They are still the most popular choice for a companion dog in Japan, thanks to their spirit and confidence. Plus, they are absolutely stunning, featuring a warm coloring and white markings.

Personality traits:

  • Active
  • Attentive
  • Confident

Akita Dog Standing On Snow
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Here’s another Japanese breed with a curly tail. In Japan, Akitas are seen as symbols of health, happiness, and a long life. Their curled tails balance out their broad heads and heavy-boned bodies. Even with a tough-guy demeanor, the Akita thrives on human companionship and loves to show off its affectionate side.

Personality traits:

  • Independent
  • Loyal
  • Protective

Two Pugs Running in the water
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These short-legged cuties are easily recognizable with their smushed faces, but now you’ll also be able to spot pugs by their curly tails. It’s no wonder millions of people have fallen in love with this tiny yet muscular breed—their big eyes and wrinkled foreheads give them a range of humanlike expressions. Pugs can live happily in the city or country, and they’re a smart choice for a dog breed for kids and older people.

Personality traits:

  • Charming
  • Loving
  • Affectionate

finnish spitz standing on a rock in the woods
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Finnish spitz

The Finnish spitz is a small yet brave hunting dog that’s a great choice for anyone on the hunt (get it?) for a guard dog. Their coat is beautiful and dense, with golden-red shades that give them a glow. Be aware that this breed can be quite vocal and yodel similar to basenjis.

Personality traits:

  • Friendly
  • Lively
  • Great with kids

Keeshond dog playing outside
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Who doesn’t love a fluffy dog? Even better: a floof ball with a curly tail! The keeshond is a smart dog breed with shading around its eyes that makes it look as if it’s wearing pro-level eyeliner. Native to Holland, keeshonden are still a patriotic symbol for the Dutch.

Personality traits:

  • Outgoing
  • Affectionate
  • Great with kids

Two brown chow chows running on the grass at a park
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Chow Chow

You may know the Chow Chow as the dog that looks like a lion, but make sure to check out that curly tail the next time you see one. This Chinese dog breed is powerful, muscular, and deep-chested, with a coat that comes in a wide range of colors, from red to blue. According to the American Kennel Club, Chow Chows are some of the cleanest dogs; they don’t have much of an odor and are easily house trained.

Personality traits:

  • Clean
  • Loyal
  • Good city dogs

Alaskan Malamute standing outside on the grass
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Alaskan malamute

The Alaskan malamute is an affectionate, playful, and a loyal dog breed. They originated as arctic sled dogs, which is easily seen in their thick coats and powerful statures. But when all the hard work of the day is done, Alaskan malamutes love nothing more than cuddling with their humans.

Personality traits:

  • Playful
  • Affectionate
  • Loyal

Samoyed dog standing outside on a sunny day
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The Samoyed is both fierce and graceful, with a stunning white coat that blocks the cold. Besides the curly tail, you’ll first notice the Samoyed’s adorable smile. But that grin serves a purpose other than looking cute. (Though it does look cute, for the record.) The upturned corners of the mouth prevent the dog from drooling. The breed comes from Siberia, where temperatures drop well below freezing, a lack of drool prevents icicles from forming.

Personality traits:

  • Playful
  • Great with kids
  • Vocal

Dogs with curly tails aren’t the only cuties around. Learn more about the cutest dog breeds, then check out these mixed dog breeds and dogs with blue eyes that are simply striking.


Emma Taubenfeld
Emma Taubenfeld is a former assistant editor for Reader’s Digest who writes about digital lifestyle topics such as memes, social media captions, pickup lines and cute pets. When she’s not working, you can find Emma reading corny young adult novels, creating carefully curated playlists and figuring out how to spice up boxed mac and cheese.