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Let's Talk Dog Paws

Dog Paws Pads

Dog paws consist of: four digital pads which cover the toes, a larger metacarpal pad in the back, and a smaller carpal pad beyond that.

These pads are composed of a very thick layer of skin (thicker than any other part of a dog’s body). This skin is composed of adipose tissue, sweat glands, and delicate nerve tips. The adipose tissue helps to absorb and redistribute pressure from the impact of the paws hitting a surface. Adipose tissue also protects the paw by insulating and protecting it from snow and ice. The sweat glands help to cool the body in hot weather. The delicate nerve tips communicate by oscillating. Nerve tips enable the dog to decipher the firmness of the ground for running or walking.

Dog Paw Print Facts

  • The four digital pads and the metacarpal pad are where most of the dog’s weight is placed when in motion.

  • The carpal pad positioned approximately where a human wrist would be, is used like a car’s hand brake. It doesn’t touch the ground when the dog is in motion.

  • The canine can adjust the leg to allow the carpal pad to scrape the ground, assisting them with stopping abruptly. This decreases the impact on the dog’s muscles and joints.

Types of Dog Paws

The AKC recognizes three types of dog paws; which have evolved over time to serve specific purposes.

Hare Feet: The two middle digital pads are longer than the ones on the outside. This creates an elongated foot which allows more surface area to touch the ground. This enables the dog to sprint short distances quickly, while expending large amounts of energy. Some examples are the Greyhound and Australian Shepard.

Webbed Feet: Just like a duck’s, these paws have a membrane made of connective tissue and skin between their toes. These dogs were bred to work in or around water, such as the Labrador Retriever and Newfoundland.

Cat Feet: The pads are bunched closely together and the foot is compact, round, and smaller in size. This allows the dog to take smaller steps and expend less energy. Dominant in working class breeds; such as: the Akita and Doberman Pinscher.

Why does my dog flinch when I touch their paws?

Do you often wonder why your dog flinches when you touch their paws? All canines are very protective of their feet. Due to the many sensitive, delicate nerves in their feet, putting your hands on their paws quickly startles them. This can create a negative association and the dog may think you are displaying dominance over them.

In conclusion, a dog’s paws serve many purposes. With all paws held in deepest respect, go at your fur baby’s feet gently and acknowledge their importance and worth.

"As a Boston Terrier owner, I have always assumed they had webbed feet. I learned that their webbing is only 1/2 to 3/4 inches and is not as flexible as a true webbed foot dog. They actually have a cat foot!" - Anita

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