How well do you know your dog’s paws? Have you ever looked at a doggy’s paws? Like really looked?
If you clean your dog’s paws regularly and keep them healthy during the winter and harsh days, you know that paws are one of the most important parts of a dog’s body.
If you insist on walks during the warm days you know that asphalt can harm your dog seriously, and put him into paw-related hell.
If your place is a home for many dogs of different breeds, such as Pomeranian and Portuguese Water Dog, you have probably noticed that their paws are different.
The thing is that, Portuguese Water Dog has webbed feet, while Pomeranian doesn’t. Webbed feet mean that some breeds have extra skin between their toes.
Dog lovers will often tell you that great swimmers are breeds with webbed paws.
In this article, we will explore this view more and get to know breeds that are known for having webbed feet.
Why Do Some Dogs Have Webbed Feet?
Some dogs have webbed feet, while others have more regular paws. To understand better why this is the case, we need to think about genetic. Just like in humans, the canine is the creation of their genetic materials.
Just like in humans, their body parts have specific roles: dogs’ body parts also have a specific purpose. In fact, canine feet were built with purpose.
Their thick pads protect them from injury while their strong nails allow for traction on any kind of surface. Moreover, some breeds have an addition – webbing between their toes.
Did you know that all dogs start with webbed feet? In utero, webbed fingers and toes are common to all mammals. Human fetuses have webbed digits up until about the 7th week of gestation.
At that period, the cells that make up the webbing on the hands and feet die off. A similar process occurs in canines but to slightly less degree.
Opposite to humans, all canine species carry some degree of webbing on their paws. In fact, wolves have an incredibly high degree of webbing.
Compared with wolves, some dogs kept webbing, while others haven’t. To understand the difference, you need first to see how webbed feet can be useful.
Webbed Feet Are Useful
Primarily, webbing in the paws makes powerful swimmers. The reason for this is actually simple – a flap of skin connecting each toe allows more surface contact with the water.
In fact, a webbed-foot dog has more power when they push against the water as they paddle. When diving webbed feet help extend diving and flatten the surface area of the human foot to aid in swimming.
The webbed dog paw achieves this same goal. When fishermen and hunters first started breeding dogs to help them with work, they immediately selected dogs that were stronger and faster swimmers.
At the time, they had no idea that they were breeding dogs with a high degree of webbing on their paws.
How Do Dogs Swim?
When dogs swim, they spread their toes to increase surface contact with the water. Dogs with webbed feet do something similar, with one difference – they swim faster.
Dogs with webbed feet swim faster because less water escapes through their toes as they paddle. Webbed feet are helpful in water, and beyond.
Webbed feet also help dogs dig better than others.
Webbed feet work as a shovel, allowing more dirt to be moved with each swipe. This is the main reason why vermin hunting breeds have webbed feet.
Also, webbing between the toes also helps dogs walk easier in deep snow, which just may be the main reason why wolves retain this unusual trait.
7 Dog Breeds With Webbed Feet
Now that you know why webbed feet are so important, let’s see some of the most popular webbed-footed dog breeds of today.
Some of them are already known as great swimmers, while others might surprise you.
Labs are among the most popular dog breeds in the States. Did you know that they are the fastest dogs in water sports? If you find this hard to believe, just throw a ball or a fishing net nearby and watch for their reaction.
In fact, the Labrador Retriever is teh most popular of the duck-footed breeds, that was originally bred in Newfoundland to help fishermen in chasing fish and gathering nets. For this, they had to be strong and agile swimmers.
Overall, Labs are gentle, and fun-loving dogs who love spending time with their family members. They need a lot of exercise, especially when young. They are easy and great to train, highly loyal, and intelligent.
Portuguese Water Dog
The Portuguese Water Dog was bred to be the ultimate dog for fishermen. Their main job was to assist the sailors by retrieving fishing nets and tackle.
They were also responsible for swimming messages between ships, and herding fish into nets. This is a Poodle-type breed of Europe, which is why they have a Poodle-like curly coat, a love of water, and webbed feet.
These water dogs are today mainly loving companions, who are independent, intelligent, and great competitors in dog sports such as agility and obedience.
Newfoundlands are known for their thick and waterproof coat, next to webbed paws which allow them to stay in the water for extremely long periods.
This breed is a great partner for fishermen in Canada. They are strongly built, with impressive physical stamina – this is why they can easily pull nets and fetch fish.
Today, they are mostly busy working in search and rescue or just spending their time as family pets.
They enjoy the outdoors and will make a great companion for long hikes and any trip where they can jump into the water.
They are gentle giants, and at first, they might look intimidating for some. They are great with children.
It’s not a bad idea to involve your children with the grooming – regular brushing should be done at least once a week and can be a great bonding activity.
Did you know that Poodles are among the most intelligent dog breeds alive? They are highly intelligent, and cute dogs who enjoy outdoor time. It’s common to see them in city areas, but they do love more rural areas.
They have oilier fur, which isn’t common for webbed feet dogs. Their coat needs daily grooming to prevent fur from getting matted and tangled. If you want a breed that doesn’t shed, then Poddle is for you.
To keep their activity need in order, you should think about agility or obedience training. They love to swim, which is why it’s important to include swimming in your dog’s exercise routine.
They have a lot of energy that should be maintained.
Did you know that Poodles were initially bred to retrieve waterfowl, which makes them excellent retrievers and great water workers? Poodles come in several sizes, meaning that you should be able to easily find the perfect match for your family.
Dachshunds are known as little sausage dogs but did you know that this small-size dog was actually bred for hunting? Their famous and long bodies enable them to explore easily tight places.
This was handy when it was up to them to find mammals such as rats and badgers. Interestingly, their feet are webbed but not for swimming but for digging, so that they can dig deeper.
They aren’t opposed to swimming, but they prefer the soil. Since this breed has a lower-body it’s extremely important to keep their weight optimal.
They do not need extra weight to pressure their bones. Just like with any other breed, never use any harsh training methods and force positive reinforcement training.
Weimaraner is one of the most elegant dog breeds alive. If you ever had the pleasure to ever met this breed, you must have noticed how elegant they look?
Dog fanciers claim that they got this elegant trait from their canine ancestors. For years, Weimaraners were used as hunting dogs by royalty in the 18th century. They are loyal, highly intelligent, and great family pets.
When hanging with people they are fun-loving dogs with low maintenance needs. Still, you will have to trim nails and keep their ears clean.
Learn how to clean a dog’s ears and what should you care about when it comes to healthy gums.
If you are looking for a running canine partner, a Weimaraner is the dog for you.
They love running because it helps them stretch their long limbs. They have arched, large, and webbed feet that can get them through any terrain with speed.
The Bottom Line
Let’s be honest – you will check your dog’s paws now to see if they are webbed or not, right? Or you did it already? Or you know from day one if your dog is a good swimmer or not?
If your dog is a water-lover and loves spending hours chasing something water-based, make sure that to regular training and exercise, you provide regular swimming time as well.