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There are certain things that people find especially endearing among certain dogs. Some people like the glossy look of a short-haired dog. Others like the quirkiness of a wiry coat. Or maybe it’s the ears that people take notice of, as tall, pointy ears can be just as cute as long, floppy ears. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to dogs. And sometimes, the more unique the better. If you like the unique look of a curly “pig tail,” there is a variety of breeds that have this characteristic. In fact, a lot of curly-tailed dogs are considered to be “Northern” dogs, which are also called “spitzes,” which are also known for having pointy ears and dense coat. Nonetheless, here is a list of most common curly-tailed dog breeds with origins extending from Norway all the way to Japan.

1. Akita

Akitas reach an average height of 26 inches at the shoulder and weigh an average of 100 pounds. They have large heads and sturdy bodies that contrast their soft, touchable, dense coat. Their ears are alert and upright, and their tail curls over their back. They’re known for being incredibly loyal to their families. However, they’re not so friendly with strangers and other animals. Akitas need early socialization in order to make good companions — especially to other dogs, who they can be aggressive with.

Akitas date back to 17th century Japan, where they symbolized happiness and a long life. In fact, new parents are often gifted an Akita figurine when a child is born for good luck. One of the most famous Akitas was Hachiko, a dog who waited nine years for his deceased owner. The true story goes to show just how loyal the Akita can be to its owner.

alaskan malamute dogs with curly tails

2. Alaskan Malamute

The Alaskan Malamute is the State dog of Alaska, known for being a powerful sled dog. It’s a large breed, reaching an average height of 24 inches at the shoulder and weighing an average of 80 pounds. Their size and strength, combined with their strong “pack animal” nature mean they require an experienced owner who can handle the dog and show them that they are the alpha. When Alaskan Malamutes are content in their lives and have a job to do, they’re great family pets who are very social with the families they love so much. They’re also great with kids and very gentle despite their great strength as haulers. 

Unlike the Siberian Husky, which is a breed used to pull light loads at fast speeds, Alaskan Malamutes were bred to pull heavy loads at average speeds over long distances.

american eskimo dog dogs with curly tails

3. American Eskimo Dog

The American Eskimo Dog comes in toy, miniature and standard varieties. As such, their height can range from 9 inches to 19 inches at the shoulder, and they can weigh anywhere between 6 pounds and 35 pounds. Their fur is stark white against their black eyes and nose. And their plumed tail is just as fluffy as the rest of their coat. 

Oddly enough, the American Eskimo Dog doesn’t hail from America at all. Instead, it was first bred in Germany to be a companion dog but also one that will be a good watchdog. German immigrants brought the dog to America with them, specifically to the Midwest where they were used as working dogs who were eager to please. In fact, Wisconsin’s Barnum and Bailey Circus is where the American Eskimo was the first dog to walk across a tight rope.

basenji dogs with curly tails

4. Basenji

The Basenji is a hunting breed from Africa, and is considered the continent’s “barkless dog.” Instead of barking, the Basenji howls and makes other interesting noises as needed. Besides the fact that the Basenji doesn’t bark, they are also unique because they groom themselves like cats. They are best suited for an owner who can provide the dog with lots of opportunities for exercise and be consistent with training. They don’t have a reputation for being good with other family pets, but they do bond well with their owners. 

In appearance, the Basenji averages 17 inches at the shoulder and weighs an average of 23 pounds. Their short coat is cream and light brown, and they have a tail that is tightly curled. Their forehead makes their almond-shaped eyes look like they’re constantly squinting and thinking.

5. Chow Chow

The Chow Chow is a powerful, ancient furball that looks like it’s all hair. It’s been part of Chinese culture since the Han Dynasty, around 200 years B.C. Since then, they’ve been used as all-purpose dogs, whether being a family companion, hunting or guarding. They can be aggressive with other animals, however, so they need to be socialized early and should not be in a home with other animals unless they are raised with them. 

In appearance, the Chow Chow has wrinkles resembling a Shar-Pei around its neck, where it also has a lion’s mane-type coat. The rest of its coat can either be rough or smooth and can be a combination of colors, although cream and reddish-brown are most common. Chow Chows reach an average height of 18 inches at the shoulder and weigh an average of 60 pounds.

Chow Chows have a reputation for being one of the cleanest dog breeds, and they are easy to house train. If well-trained, they can be a dignified breed that is even adaptable to city life.

finnish spitz dogs with curly tails

6. Finnish Spitz

The Finnish Spitz looks a bit similar to the Chow Chow in color as well as the pointy ears, curled tail and thick coat. However, they’re taller and less stocky than the Chow Chow. They also lack the pushed-in muzzle that a Chow Chow has. A Finnish Spitz can reach an average height of 18 inches at the shoulder and weigh an average of 28 pounds.

A Finnish Spitz is a smart dog that is also a great watchdog. Due to its tendency to bark excessively, it does not make an ideal pet for apartment dwellers. They’re very friendly and playful, however, and make great pets for active families.

keeshond dogs with curly tails

7. Keeshond

Keeshonds are average-sized dogs with a thick coat of hair that makes it look like a giant fluffball with pointy ears and a curly tail. Their color varies but is typically a blend of black, brown and cream. A distinguishing feature of the Keeshond is that it has markings around the eyes that make it look like it is wearing glasses. Keeshonds reach an average height of 17 inches at the shoulder and weigh an average of 40 pounds.

A Keeshond is smart, playful and very eager to please its owner. They excel at agility and obedience competitions as well.

norwegian buhund dogs with curly tails

8. Norwegian Buhund

Norwegian Buhunds are considered a “Northern” dog like a lot of the curly-tailed, pointy-eared, thick-coated dogs on this list. They tend to be wheaten (cream) in color but can also be all black. A Norwegian Buhund reaches average height of 17 inches at the shoulder and weigh an average of 35 pounds.

The breed is also sometimes called a Norwegian Sheepdog or a Norse Buhund. As their name suggests, they have a history in Norway where they sailed with the Vikings over 1,000 years ago. They were considered loyal companions to the Vikings and still are today, as they enjoy the companionship of owners and being their “right-hand man.”

norwegian elkhound dogs with curly tails

9. Norwegian Elkhound

Another curly-tailed Northern breed, the Norwegian Elkhound has a silvery coat with hints of black fur, especially around the face and ears. Norwegian Elkhounds reach an average height of 19 inches at the shoulder and weigh an average of 50 pounds.

Like other northern dogs, or spitzes, they also sailed with the Vikings. On land, they were used to track bear, wolves and elk. They form strong bonds with their families and are very smart. Their intelligence makes them easy to train, but they do get bored easily, so owners of Norwegian Elkhounds need to provide plenty of mental stimulation and opportunities for exercise. The breed excels at obedience training, as they are very eager to please their owners.

10. Pomeranian

The Pomeranian is a tiny dog weighing about 7 pounds and reaching about 7 inches at the shoulder. But they may look a little bigger just because of the amount of fluff they have. Besides their fluffy coat, curly tail and alert, pointy ears, the Pomeranian is often seen smiling with his little tongue hanging out of his mouth.

Pomeranians are friendly little dogs that thrive on constant human companionship. Families who are home often and kids who won’t play too rough with the little dog make good companions to the Pomeranian. They’re very easy to train and make great watchdogs.

pug dogs with curly tails

11. Pug

The Pug is another curly-tailed small dogs with loads of personality. It averages 12 inches in height at the shoulder and weighs an average of 15 pounds. Pugs are “brachycephalic,” meaning they have a face that looks like it is pushed in. It makes for an adorable dog that actually looks like it is wearing a dark mask. The rest of their coat is short and typically light-brown, black, cream or apricot. 

The history of the Pug takes them all the way from the Buddhist monasteries of Tibet, all the way to the Netherlands, where a Pug was rumored to save the life of the Dutch “Prince of Orange” by barking to alert him of a Spanish invasion. Pugs make playful pets with an easy-going nature, adding to their reputation for getting along well with other pets and kids who won’t play too rough.

samoyed dogs with curly tails

12. Samoyed

The Samoyed is a Northern breed, or spitz, that is known for its gorgeous white coat, as well as, of course, their curly tail. The breed averages 21 inches in height at the shoulder and weighs an average of 50 pounds. They shed a lot and require regular brushing to keep shedding to a minimum.

The Samoyed has a history of working closely with their owners in harsh winter conditions. They are playful dogs that are full of energy, smart and affectionate. As pack animals, they kids who won’t play too rough without an owner who can show them they are the alpha and can provide them with lots of mental stimulation and opportunities for exercise.

shiba inu dogs with curly tails

13. Shiba Inu

Shiba Inus have a history dating back to 300 B.C. when they were used as hunting dogs in Japan. They’re medium-sized dogs that average a height of 15 inches at the shoulder and a weight of 20 pounds. Their appearance is almost fox-like with a coat that can be red and white, or black and brown.

Shiba Inus can make good pets but have a kids who won’t play too rough if being let off-leash, as well as for being very vocal. They are incredibly easy to house train, however, which is a major bonus.  

Besides the dogs in this list, there are other popular purebred or mixed breeds that may have curly tails, simply due to genetics.

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