I bet you didn’t realize how many dog breeds actually have webbed feet in the world. We know some dogs have webbed feet while others don’t. Do you know which dogs have webbed feet?
I have talked a bit about this topic in my Can Dogs Swim post back in May 2019, but still wanted to dedicate a full post to it here. Simply I find it absolutely fascinating that dogs have webbed feet and for most of my life I never knew that.
Our previous 2 dogs together were a Cockapoo (BOO) and a Labradoodle (FINN) and neither of them had significantly webbed feet. Oh how things change. LOL!
We now have a new puppy named FERGUS. He is also a Labradoodle like FINN was. There are significant differences between the 2 doodles. FINN was a Multi-generational Labradoodle, which means his mom was a Standard Poodle and his dad was a Doodle. His genetic mix made him a very curly almost full on Poodle dog.
FERGUS is a complete 1/2 and 1/2 Labradoodle. His mom is a chocolate Labrador and his dad was a Standard Poodle. This 50-50 mix makes a completely different doodle. FERGUS is way more a Labrador looking dog then Poodle. For this reason, he doesn’t have curly hair, no long poodle legs, but he does have some big paws (MITTS) as we call them. And yes his paws are very webbed.
He literally has the biggest most webbed feet of any dog I have seen. I have never seen anything like it.
Why are they webbed
We generally think of creatures that have webbed feet as ones that are constantly in the water. When we think of an animal that has webbed feet, the first ones we think of are otters, ducks, geese, frogs and more. Animals that spend most of their time in the water.
You see that dogs are not the first animal that comes to mind when we talk about having webbed feet. So if animals that are in the water are the most common why would dogs have webbed feet? They can go in the water yes, but they don’t spend most of their time there. So what is the point then?
The point of an animal in the wild having webbed feet is to allow them to paddle in the water almost like a flipper. Swimming through the water with ease and much faster. This also allows them to be able to walk on mud very easily. The foot is spread out, so it covers more ground, literally.
Dog paws are not webbed in the true sense of the word, but there toes are connected by a membrane that appears webbed like. If they were completely webbed, they would have a difficult time walking on certain surfaces and could end up waddling rather than walking.
Being selective with the breeding and evolutionary change have really adapted dog’s paws to be able to be so useful, especially in the water.
When I go through some of the most popular breeds that have webbed feet, I will explain what each breed uses their webbing for. But as a general rule of thumb, webbing allows dogs to do many things like:
- Water fowl retriever
- Help fisherman with hauling fishing nets
- Track Otters
- Stand on uneven surfaces easier
- Walking in mud and snow without sinking
Our puppy FERGUS as I mentioned has very webbed feet that are absolutely huge. Although he hasn’t gone swimming or been in mud yet because it is winter, I have already seen how the webbed paws help him. Here we have a few feet of snow and at 25 lbs, he can actually stand on the top of a snow pile without sinking.
Why you ask? Well if you watch him when he stands and plants his paw, his toes actually spread out. The flex of his paw makes his paw circumference quite big. It almost looks like he has something on his foot. When his toes separate like that the membrane or webbing between gives him a much larger surface on the snow. Therefore, he spreads his weight out more evenly.
I just love watching him stand out there on top of the snow. He looks like he is so proud of himself.
Top 6 breeds
Although there are many breeds that have very distinguished webbed feet, it may surprise you to know that all dogs have some sort of webbing. Inspect your dog’s paws and you will see some membrane connecting the toes together.
The 6 most popular breeds of dogs that have the most significant webbed feet are:
Portuguese Water Dog – Just like their name states, “water dog,” these dogs were meant to be in the water. Their webbed feet allows them to really move in the water with complete ease. The very curly waterproof coat they have actually lends them to stay in the water for long periods of time. They were specifically bred to be able to work in the water. There limited size kept them from the usual water jobs like hauling fishing or carrying heavy loads. Instead, they were used to actually herd the fish into a net. Passing notes from boat to boat and retrieving small items was also something they could be used for.
Newfoundlands – Foot size is directly proportionate to body size, so our next large breed is the Newfoundlands. These dogs can weight anywhere from 100-150 lbs, which makes for a very large dog. The big webbed feet of this dog make them obviously one of the best water dog breeds around. Equipped with very long toes, doesn’t hurt either. They have amazing endurance due to a very large lung capacity in their very large body. To say these dogs are amazing swimmers is an understatement. Whether it is hauling in large fishing nets or rescuing people overboard, this breed is the top of the list.
American Water Spaniel – Just like the Portugese Water dog, this breed also has water included right in their name. These dogs webbed feet have toes that are very close together. This assists them in retrieving birds either in the water or on land. A hunter shoots a bird down from the air and when it lands, the dog is sent to retrieve the bird no matter where it lands.
Otterhound – The name says it all once again. Yes these dogs are meant to track down Otters. They are one of the rarer breed of dog on this list. Back in the 1900s they were bred to help hunters track Otters. Their incredible sense of smell makes it easy to track the Otters and their homes. Equipped with webbed feet, thick pads and arched toes They can spread out their foot for more control.
Chesapeake Bay Retrievers – also called “Chessies” by their fans. In 1807, 2 Newfoundland puppies were found on a ship in Maryland and found to be great duck hunters. These dogs were crossed with flat-coated and curly-coated retrievers resulting in excellent offspring. By the 1880s this new breed that they called the Chesapeake Bay Retriever reportedly retrieved 300 ducks daily. They have large rounded toes and webbed feet that make them very quick swimmers and great duck retrievers. These very powerful swimmers have a double coat that is waterproof and insulated along with super strong muscles.
Labrador Retrievers – I saved the best breed for last. HAHA ! Just kidding. But obviously I am a bit biased with this breed as I have had 2 dogs that have some part Labrador in them. Such wonderful features and is the most popular breed in the USA. This breed was originally bred to help haul fishing nets, fetching ropes and of course retrieving things with his very webbed feet. All of this makes them wonderful candidates to be rescue dogs, service dogs and even participate in show competition. Labradors are knows as a very hard-working breed.
These 6 choices are just some of my favourite webbed paw dogs out there. There are many other dog breeds that have webbed feet also: Weimaraner, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever and German Wire-haired Pointer just to name a few more.
Back to the Doodle
The Labradoodle breed is not on the list of dogs that have webbed feet, but because of his mix or breeds, he does have them.
To be honest I can’t wait to see FERGUS with his big feet in the water. Will he be a swimmer?
We just need to wait a few months’ til the summer and see whether he will use his big webbed paws in the traditional way a Labrador does by swimming. As he grows, you can see by his personality, physical appearance and overall character that he has tons of the Lab qualities.
That suits me just fine, as I always wanted a Lab. Although FERGUS is only 1/2 Labrador, he is close enough for me.
It doesn’t matter which dogs have webbed feet and which don’t as with any dogs, just because you have a quality like being tall as an example doesn’t guarantee you will be a fast runner. This applies the same to dogs with webbed feet, yes they may those wonderful feet, but they may not be that dog that likes to swim either. HAHA!
Today the relationship of man/woman and dog has changed. Dogs are not used so much as working dogs. We keep them as companions to be by our side rather than as a physical need. No matter what physical qualities our dogs have or don’t have we true dog lovers absolutely love them anyway!
HAVE YOU LOOKED AT YOUR DOGS PAWS?