Your pup's paws are more interesting than you might think

Paws for a moment and consider your pup's feet.

They're a masterpiece of evolutionary engineering. A marvel of nature's design, comparable to the most sophisticated high-tech gear. And let's be honest—those toe beans? Downright cute. ☺️ Paws definitely deserve a round of applause!

So, prepare to give it up for those pupper paws with our curated list of unexpected insights—just for your edutainment.

Awesome paws

How familiar are you with these 10 fun and fascinating facts about Fido's feet?

Dogs tip-toe around

Almost literally, because canines are digitigrades. That is animals that walk on their toes without their heels touching the ground.

This gait style has advantages.

It allows dogs to zip around quickly, and it's the secret to their silent strides. (They can be all hush-hush, perfect for sneaking up on that unsuspecting squirrel. 🤫)

Most dogs have 18 toes

Sounds like an arbitrary number, right? Agreed!

That's why I double-checked and can confirm: Most breeds have four toes per hind leg and five per front paw, which equals 18.

Why most breeds and not all breeds?

Because, as with all rules, there are exceptions. See below…

Some canines have rear dewclaws

While it's rare, it does happen. But first, what even are dewclaws?

They're the odd, somewhat stubby little claws on the side of your pup's front legs. By the way, they're not useless! Front leg dewclaws stabilise your pup's "wrist" joint and offer extra grip.

Back to our fact: Almost all dog breeds are born with front dewclaws. However, certain dog breeds (like Great Pyrenees and St. Bernards) can also have single or double dewclaws on their hind legs. 👀

Paws have built-in shock absorbers and brakes

That would be thanks to the carpal pads on the back of your dog's front legs. They function like our heels. Sort of.

Together with dewclaws, these pads provide traction and cushioning to help dogs decelerate, tackle treacherous terrain, and soften jump landings. Talk about paw-some! 👏

Despite all that, it's still a good idea to pick dog-friendly floors for our homes.

Paws have different shapes

You may not have noticed this, but the shape of doggy paws varies. There are:

  • Webbed feet: Paws with a more prominent membrane (thin skin) between doggy toes. Hunting dogs, retrievers, and keen swimmers like Newfoundlands have webbed feet.
  • Hare feet: Paws with two longer middle toes. This shape gives dogs an immense speed advantage, as seen in Greyhounds and Samoyeds.
  • Cat feet: Petite and rounded paws akin to kitties. You'll spot them on Akitas and Doberman Pinschers.

Dogs sweat through their paws

Doggos sweat through their feet—and noses—because of merocrine sweat glands. These kick into high gear whenever Fido feels hot or anxious.

Sweat, combined with bacteria and saliva, is also why paws emit a strangely savoury odour: Corn chips. Yum? 🤪

Canines have a dominant paw

You read that right. Man's Best Friend can be right- or left-handed pawed! 🐾 Wild, huh?! Here’s what the experts say on this topic:

  • 74% of dogs have a preferred paw.
  • Preliminary research suggests more righties (mainly female and elderly dogs) than lefties at the population level.
  • Dogs may favour different paws for different tasks.

Puppy paw size can approximate its future frame

As the saying goes, the larger the paw, the larger the dog. This one's an old wives' tale you can actually believe. At least in pure breeds! Estimating the adult size of a mixed-breed puppy by its paws can be tricky—it's too early to tell which breeds' genes prevailed.

Paws have an extraordinary circulatory system

Here's how it works: Arteries in doggy paws are positioned by tiny veins known as venules, which makes heat transfer (from warm blood in the arteries to cooler blood in the veins) possible. This mechanism is known as counter-current heat exchange. Genius! No wonder they can tolerate snow and cold.

Paws are sensitive

Fido's feet are packed with sensory nerve endings known as Pacinian corpuscles. They detect temperature, pressure, and vibrations. It's why doggies instinctively protect their paws—even from you.

That's a wrap on our favourite findings about puppy paws. Which fact had you looking at your dog's feet in awe? Share your reactions or other insights, and let's keep the paw-ty going in the comments! 😄


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