1.  True or False? Dog’s paws are webbed.

True – Some sport breeds such as Spaniels and Portuguese Water Dogs have webbed paws to help them swim and catch waterfowl, but not all dog paws are webbed.

2.  The main function of a dog’s paws are to:

A)   Grab and hold.

B)   Swim.

C)   Dig and Scratch.

D)   Run and Jump.

C – The main function of a dog paw is to dig and scratch.  This helps them catch and eat prey.  Most dogs are very good at running and walking, and some field breeds even have “cat like” paws to help them jump in the air; however, they do not have the ability to “hold” their prey like their feline counterparts.

3.  True or False? All dogs have dew claws.

False – Only some dogs have dew claws, and they can be on the front paws, back paws (though rare), neither, or both.

4.  True or False? The purpose of the dew claw remains unknown.

True – There is speculation that the dew claw may have been useful in some breeds historically, however the dew claw is commonly regarded as useless and even occasionally removed at puppyhood.

5.  True or False? A dog can move each “digit,” or toe, independently.

False – A dog can not move its toes independently.  All four digits move simultaneously, limiting the dog’s ability to grasp and hold things.

6.  True or False? Working breeds have thicker, coarser pads.

True – Because a dog’s pad is its “shoe”, working breeds tend to have thicker pads to help with traction and load.




3 thoughts

  1. While the dew claws current function may be debatable…it is clearly a vestigial (although vestigial indicates lacking function) remaining because of evolution. The dew claw (aka thumb or 5th digit) has been reduced because it wasn’t all that important in the digitigrade locomotion exhibited by dogs and cats. It’s not that evolution got rid of it, it’s just that animals that had long dew claws didn’t have a competitive advantage over short dew claws – they might have even been at a disadvantage because long ones could get caught on things (again a myth that hasn’t clearly been substantiated and the main reason breeders remove dew claws, that and people dislike trimming them).

    Dr. Chris Zink has a great article on dew claw function, citing that dew claws come into contact with the ground in tight turns and stabilize the wrist and ankle bones. When dew claws are cut, damage to a ligament increases a dog’s likelihood of carpal arthritis and wrist sprains.


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