So, they are big and small, webbed, wide, and dainty, and you see them every day. Do you know why there are certain paws that belong to certain breeds? Here are some fun facts about your dog’s feet.
The pads of your dog’s paw are largely made up of fatty tissue and contain sweat glands. Paws can get burned and blister on hot surfaces (like summer pavement). They also can get irritated or burned from rock salt and other chemicals on the ground. Yes, booties are necessary in very cold and very hot climates.
It only takes 60 seconds on pavement that is 125 degrees for a dog’s paws to burn. This means if it is 77 degrees outside, the pavement could potentially be hot enough to burn a dog’s feet if it stands on it long enough.
Dogs carry the majority of their weight on their toes (as opposed to their heels). Long nails can cause the dog to rock back on his paws, causing strain on his leg assemblies, interfere with his gait, and be painful.
Have you ever seen that funny little claw that hangs a few inches above the rest of your dog’s foot? That is called a dew claw. It is thought to be the remnant of what used to be a thumb, but not all dogs have them. Some use them to assist their grasp, and some when navigating mountainous terrain.
Does your dog ever have an awful smell to his feet? There is a form of bacteria that is totally normal. However, yeast also grows and sometimes smells like corn chips and that should be treated before it gets out of hand.
Dogs bred for cold climates, like St. Bernards and Newfoundlands, have wide, sprawling paws to give them a better grip on snow and ice. These include Akita, Doberman Pinscher, Greyhound, Giant Schnauzer, Kuvasz, Newfoundland, Airedale Terrier, Bull Terrier, Keeshond, Finnish Spitz, and Old English Sheepdog.
Cat feet, which are the result of short, third-digital bones, are compact, requiring less energy to lift which increases endurance.
Hare feet are elongated with the two center toes longer than the side toes. These include several of the toy breeds: Samoyed, Bedlington Terrier, Skye Terrier, Borzoi, and Greyhound.
Labrador Retrievers are natural-born swimmers and have webbed feet, as well as the Newfoundland, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Portuguese Water Dog, Field Spaniel, and German Wirehaired Pointer.
For more information, see The Dog in Action, by McDowell Lyon; Peak Performance: Coaching the Canine Athlete, by M. Christine Zink, DVM, PhD; The New Dogsteps, by Rachel Page Elliott; and The Complete Dog Book, by the American Kennel Club.
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