Owning a bulldog can be both a fulfilling and frustrating experience. Bulldogs can be very loving dogs and make wonderful ESAs or Emotional Support Animals. That said, they can also be one of the higher maintenance dogs because of things like the tail pocket.
Do all bulldogs have a tail pocket? The short answer is no, not all bulldogs. Plus, they don’t always appear until they are close to adulthood. English Bulldogs, American Bulldogs, and French Bulldogs are the most common breeds to have them, but just because you own one of these breeds does not mean you own a dog with a tail pocket.
If you think of a tail pocket like a rump belly button, I am sure you can imagine how dirty it can get, which can lead to an infection, if not properly cared for. It can be a collection spot for dirt, bacteria, and moisture. This tends to be the perfect storm that, when not properly attended to, can lead to a skin infection that is sure to make your furry friend pretty uncomfortable.
What is a Tail Pocket?
One of the things that make bulldogs and certain other breeds of dogs so darn cute is all those wrinkles. While those wrinkles make for a cute (or so ugly, they’re cute, depending on your point of view) dog, that is also what leads to a tail pocket in some dogs. A tail pocket, as the name suggests, is a pocket of skin, or a wrinkle, above or below the tail area of your dog.
While bulldogs are the more common breed to have them, other wrinkly breeds, like pugs, can also have tail pockets, so bulldog owners are not the only ones to have to deal with this. As with any other wrinkle on your dog, the tail pocket must also be checked and cleaned regularly to avoid issues with irritation, dirt, or bacteria buildup and skin infections.
How to Check for a Tail Pocket
Checking for a tail pocket may seem easy, but it is oftentimes harder than it sounds. If you adopted your dog as an adult, then the options are pretty simple, either they have one or not. If, however, you got your bulldog as a puppy, then there is a third option when checking for a tail pocket. Option three: They don’t have one YET.
As your puppy grows into adulthood, you will need to keep checking until at least 6 months, though 9 months would be better, to be sure, one way or the other, whether they do have a tail pocket. This is due to the fact that sometimes puppies don’t have one, but they develop them as they grow into adulthood.
Checking, in and of itself, is pretty easy and takes less than 5 minutes, assuming your dog will hold still long enough to be checked. This is the best way to check:
- Starting on top of the tail, feel around for a recessed area
- Check each wrinkle to be sure that it is not collecting debris
- Check the depth of each wrinkle to ensure it is not a tail pocket
- Around the underside of the tail, repeat steps 1 – 3
How to Clean a Tail Pocket
Cleaning a tail pocket is not usually a difficult task, but would depend on the cooperation of your dog. If she is ticklish, she may not be as willing to let you mess with her bum area, which can, in turn, increase the difficulty of the task. Unfortunately, the tail pocket does not get cleaned out during the course of a normal bath.
For information on cleaning the rest of your English bulldog, check out this article we wrote.
Remove the Debris
Removing the debris from a tail pocket is a vital step, and depending on where the tail pocket is located, it can be an issue and feel kind of gross. While removing debris such as dirt, hair and the like can be pretty easy when the pocket is above the tail, removing it from below the tail may feel uncomfortable to some pet owners.
To remove the debris, whether the pocket is above or below the tail, requires putting a finger into the pocket and scooping out the contents. Depending on a variety of factors, including how long since the last cleaning and how active your dog is in areas where they can accumulate debris, can determine how much time and effort must be put into removing it.
Make sure to remove as much as you can with your fingers. This can be done just before bathtime to ensure that the area gets cleaned out well. Though the pocket doesn’t typically get cleaned during a normal bath, you can clean out a tail pocket during a bath, but you do need to put the extra effort into cleaning it out both before and during the bath.
Clean the Area
Whether you are opting to wash the area during a bath or when you perform other grooming tasks, the skin inside the tail pocket will need to be washed to help remove the remaining dirt, and any moisture inside that can lead to bacterial growth.
During bath time, you can use a mild soap on the area to help clean out the bacteria and any dirt or grime that can be irritating to the sensitive skin inside the pocket. If you are not cleaning during a bath, you can use just a damp washrag or even a baby wipe to help clean out the pocket and the surrounding area.
Dry the Area Thoroughly
Ensuring that both the tail pocket itself and the area around it is dried thoroughly can go a long way to both clearing up a skin infection and prevent future ones. Even the moisture left behind from cleaning can be enough to help a new colony of bacteria becomes established and cause either irritation or infection.
Bacteria needs moisture to establish a colony. By not drying the pocket well enough or leaving moisture on the outside near the pocket, you could, inadvertently, be aiding in the growth of a bacterial colony.
Other Options to Consider
If you do not feel comfortable cleaning the tail pocket or if the tail pocket is too tight around the tail to properly clean, there are other options available.
On the lesser extreme side is taking your dog to a groomer that is familiar with bulldogs and other wrinkly breeds. If you are willing and able to pay for weekly groomings to clean out the folds of your dog, or more extensive cleaning of them, then this may be an option for you. The folds between the wrinkles should still be wiped out regularly, at least a few times a week.
By taking advantage of the advice and knowledge of a groomer familiar with wrinkly dogs, you can gain a lot of insight on the best way to clean the folds and what products work best as well. Talking with a groomer can also help you to learn ways to keep your dog calm during the process as well, which will make the process less stressful for both of you.
On the more extreme side of things, some human companions do opt to have the tail removed. This can aid in the cleaning process, especially when the tail pocket is too tight to be able to clean properly. This will NOT remove the need to clean it, just make the process easier.
While not all dogs will require surgery, nor will all vets be willing to remove the tail, this is something to look into in extreme cases where cleaning the pocket is too difficult due to the tightness of the folds.
If you want to learn more about English Bulldogs or other types of Bulldogs, then consider checking out this Bulldog Handbook on Amazon.