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A Labradoodle’s Tail is a Combination of a Poodle and a Labrador
As with most things Labradoodle, the features of your Doodle could be either a Poodle’s, a Lab’s, or a combination of both. We know that a multi-generational dog will have more predictable features than an F1 (Labrador/Poodle) or F2B (Labradoodle/Poodle).
The more often a Labradoodle has been bred with another, the more predictable the features will be. So if you are thinking about getting a Labradoodle, the more you know about the puppy’s mother and father, the better you will be able to predict its features.
A Poodle’s Tail
So why doesn’t a Labradoodle’s tail look like a Poodles? To answer that question, we first have to know what a poodle’s tail looks like.
What we picture when we think of a Poodle’s tail—the short tail that stands up with the little fluff ball at the end—is only half of a poodle’s tail. The other half is cut off. This process is called docking, and it usually happens within the first five days of its birth. The tail is either cut off, or rubber bands are used to stop the flow of blood so that part of the tail dies.
Does this hurt? Well, people who do the procedure say that young dogs don’t experience pain. But others, like the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), argue differently. The AVMA simply says that “tail docking is painful.” Their position is that dogs, including poodles, should never have their tails docked, unless for medical reasons.
Poodles do not have their tails docked because of medical reasons. Instead, the docking occurs because that is what the AKC standard calls for. In their description of what a poodle’s tail should look like, a poodle’s tail should be straight and “docked of sufficient length to ensure a balanced outline.”
By balanced outline, they mean the tail when straight is held high it should not be higher than the head. If you look at pictures of show poodles in profile, you will notice that the top of the tail is generally the same height as the dog's eyes.
Why Dock at All?
Docking of dogs is not universal. Indeed, many countries have banned the practice of docking. England did so in 2006. Most countries in the European Union have also banned it, as has Australia.
Humans have historically docked various domesticated animals—horses, sheep, and dogs. Sometimes those were done for practical purposes.
- Sheep. To prevent feces build-up and diseases due to that.
- Horses. The fear was that draft horses who had to pull heavy machinery could get their tails caught in the ropes or machinery.
- Pigs. When pigs are kept in small spaces, talks are docked to avoid injury and to keep the pigs from eating each other’s tails.
The practice of docking the tail of dogs can be traced back to the Romans. It was thought that hunting dogs would get their tails caught in the brush as they were chasing after prey. Of course, Poodles are no longer climbing through bushes to catch prey.
Another reason dogs would get their tails docked was for identification. In some regions, wealthier people would not allow their dogs’ tails to be docked while the dogs belonging to poorer folks had to be cut shorter.
A Poodle’s Full Tail
Some of us, then, have never seen the true tail of a poodle. It is understandable then that we would think that if a Poodle’s tail is short and straight, a Labradoodle’s tail should resemble a poodle’s tail.
Here’s another clue that a curly tail in a Labradoodle might not be so unusual. In the AKC standards, if the tail is carried over the back or curled, then it is considered a major fault. Why would you bring this up unless it can happen that some poodles have curled tails?
It is possible then that the Poodle’s side of the Labradoodle’s family has curled tails, but we do not know because the tail was docked.
A Labrador’s Tail
The AKC standards for a Labrador’s tail are the exact opposite—a Lab’s tail may not be docked. The standards go on to say that the tail should taper to the tip and have an overall appearance that is often described as an “otter tail.” This is most likely because the tail should have the same thick coat that covers the rest of the Labrador.
The same standards also say that the following are considered faults in a Labrador:
- A short tail
- A long, thin tail
- A tail that curls over the back
The short and long tails are considered major faults. But a short tail that curls up is considered a minor fault.
Combining the Tails
Based on these clues, you can infer several things:
- Some poodles probably have curly tails.
- We might not know that if their tails are cut off.
- Labradors usually have straight tails.
- If they have a tail that curls back, it is a minor fault.
In other words, if you see a Labradoodle with a curly tail, it could likely mean that somewhere in its lineage there was a Poodle that had one or a Labrador could curl back.
The Labradoodle’s Standard
Since the Labradoodle is not considered by the AKC to be a distinct breed, it does not have any breed standards for it. However, the Australian Labradoodle Association of America (ALAA) has developed a set of standards. These call for a tail that doesn’t “curl completely over the back. Tip should not touch the back nor curl upon itself.”
However, according to breeders, when a Labradoodle is young ("the formative years”), then the tail will often curl onto the back.
In other words, if you have a young Labradoodle, a curly tail is perfectly natural.
The Labradoodle itch becomes harder and harder to scratch, and you will have many questions about what your future Doodle will look like.
To answer the main question posed in this article, yes, Labradoodles can have curly tails. The Poodle or poodles in their bloodline might have had curly ones. If yours winds up with one, the curl probably came from the poodle side of the family. Most Labradoodles have more Poodle in them than Labrador, as a breeder will often breed a Labradoodle with another Poodle hoping for specific characteristics.
So there is nothing wrong if your Doodle has a curly tail. Do not get it docked, though. Because whether it is straight or curly, what you want is to see it wagging because your precious Doodle is happy to see you.