You might not know this, but a dog's paws are not just made for walking and running! Your dog also has significant swimming and paddling abilities thanks to the webbed feet that almost all dogs.
The structure of a dog’s paws has more functionality than many know, and these features are overlooked for many reasons, most likely because people don’t think of it. You only need to take a closer look at the feet of your dog to notice webbing like you’ve seen on a duck or a frog. This webbing is called “syndactyly.”
What are webbed feet?
Dogs are cursorial animals, meaning they are made for running at a rapid speed. Cursorial characteristics in animals are long legs, modified feet, strong hooves or blunt claws, and lean bodies that can run swiftly. Dogs are typically built for running purposes like hunting, playing, or defense. Meanwhile, webbed feet are help water-dwelling animals move and swim rapidly in the water.
Webbing is a membrane that connects the toes in order to give the paws agility to swim and paddle in the water with ease. It’s very similar to a boat’s paddle; the membrane stretches and becomes a wide and flat, covering the area between the toes and helping animals move faster in the water. This trait also allows these water-dwellers to walk over mud or slippery places efficiently because webbed feet facilitate a stronger grip while moving on the land as well as in the water.
Webbed feet: Dangerous or a blessing?
Syndactyly does not usually cause a serious problem unless it creates walking issues, which can be corrected with surgical treatment. Webbed feet more often works in a dog's favor as it enables them to swim in the water while giving additional benefits, but the condition could become problematic if it causes symptoms in your puppy like limping or other conditions such as a shortened tibia-fibula, cleft palate, and scoliosis.
Why Dogs have webbed feet:
We find their webbing when we look closely at the feet of a dog from one toe to another. It is not a carbon copy of duck feet or frog feet, but to some extent, it looks like their webbing.
All land animals have webbed feet, but it is possible that evolution made this characteristic less functional over time. Most animals retain this condition despite evolutionary changes and selective breeding. Dogs have webbed feet for practical reasons; retaining this feature enables dogs to be good swimmers.
All Dogs Have Webbed Feet:
As we mentioned earlier, webbed feet are found in all land animals to some degree, and some breeds have more or less webbing between their toes. There are many dog breeds with webbed feet and top-notch swimming capability; the following list includes just a few.
Poodles can swim excellently and are considered one of the best swimmers. They’re renowned as water retrievers.
You might have seen pit bulls enjoying swimming, as this breed has notably webbed feet and can swim easily.
Huskies have webbed feet to a certain extent. They can swim moderately well, but their subtle webbing excels at distributing their weight and helping them walk through snowy lands.
Purebred German shepherds have webbed feet and an edge in swimming, but they can’t compete with regular swimming animals.
10 top-notch swimmer dogs with webbed feet:
Portuguese Water Dog
American Water Spaniel
German Shorthaired Pointer
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Most dog breeds have webbing in their feet, but some dogs with webbed feet are able to do special tasks that are commonly associated with their breeds. While not every dog uses their webbed feet for swimming, the feature can certainly give them advantages.