Have you ever noticed your dog’s toes have a thin membrane between them? The majority of dogs have webbing on their feet. My pit bull mix, Ralph, for example, has gorgeous, silky pink flesh between her white toes. However, for practical reasons, certain dog breeds have visibly webbed feet. As you might expect, dogs with webbed feet are frequently excellent swimmers…
Continue reading to find out which canines have webbed feet and how those feet help them do what they were bred to do.
Swimmer feet are present in all canines (sort of)
We often think of webbed feet as a feature found only in certain breeds, although webbing between the toes is found in almost all dogs. It’s part of the way paws are made, just as how your fingers have some flesh between them.
Every portion of a dog’s paw has a specific function. As they walk, the pads on the bottoms of their feet protect them and offer grip. Their toenails help them dig by providing traction. The webbing is intended to provide stability while walking and additional assistance while swimming.
Although most dogs have webbing between their toes, several breeds have “webbed feet” that allow them to accomplish specific breed-specific tasks. These dogs are water dogs in general, and webbing aids their swimming. However, not every dog with webbed feet swims with them!
8 dogs with webbed feet
Webbed feet are found in some of America’s most popular dog breeds, including Labrador retrievers. Rare dog breeds, on the other hand, have webbed feet. A list of several dog breeds having webbed feet can be found here.
The Newfoundland is a large, sweet-tempered working dog that began its career aboard Canadian fishing vessels, where they specialized in water rescues. They’re excellent swimmers, thanks in part to their large, webbed feet, which aid in propulsion in the water. They’re also super-strong, so they could pull grown men to safety in the water back in the day. Newfies are now mostly regarded for being wonderful family dogs.
Their main skill is obvious from their name: these water dogs are built to swim. They were bred to assist fishermen on the coasts of Spain and Portugal. They can stay in the water for a long time due to their curly, waterproof coat and athletic endurance. And, of course, their webbed, wide feet make them great paddles!
Otterhounds were developed to hunt otters in medieval England, when otters were in abundance. Otterhounds are still popular family pets, despite the fact that otter hunting is now illegal. Their large, webbed feet aid in swimming, and their tough, water-resistant coat keeps them cool.
Otterhounds are uncommon in the United States, so if you see one, give it a webbed paw-shake!
German Shorthaired Pointer
Another hunting dog with webbed feet! This is a breed of dog that originated in Germany. GSPs are hunting dogs that are bred to track, point, and recover poultry. Their feet are “compact, close-knit, round to spoon-shaped,” according to the American Kennel Club AKC breed standard for German Shorthaired Pointers. They also have webbed toes, which aid in swimming in rivers and ponds where they hunt. Even non-hunting GSPs enjoy being near water!
A web-footed wonder is America’s most popular dog breed. Labrador retrievers are so well-known that they don’t need to be introduced, and most Lab owners are aware that their favorite breed is one of the most well-known dogs with webbed paws. Labs are known for their sociable, athletic personalities, but they also make excellent swimmers. Their thick coat is easier to brush off after a swim, and their large, webbed feet help them dog paddle.
Wiener dogs have webbed feet for a purpose, believe it or not! Although you might not think of Dachshunds when you think of webbed-footed dogs, these low-slung cuties were designed to hunt badgers. That entailed chasing after rabbits, digging holes, and diving into them. Their paddle paws assist them in digging and gripping.
Doxies aren’t great swimmers, but those who do enjoy the water benefit from their webbed toes.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Fans refer to them as “Chessies” because they were born on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, an estuary encompassed by Maryland and Virginia. They are untiring retrievers descended from other web-footed breeds, such as Newfoundlands. Chessies are good swimmers, having a waterproof and insulating double coat and strong muscles to keep them moving. Furthermore, their large webbed feet assist them in swimming against the frigid stream.
Irish Water Spaniel
With the word “water” in their name, you know they must be excellent swimmers! Irish Water Spaniels, according to the AKC, are one of the oldest spaniel breeds, probably dating back to the 7th century. They’re great hunters and retrievers, and their webbed feet help them swim well. Even if you’re not hunting, Irish Water Spaniels make great family pets because of their affectionate, exuberant nature.