I’ve always been curious about whether or not German Shepherds have webbed paws. I first heard the rumor from a friend who said that she had seen a German Shepherd dog with webbed toes and was told by her veterinarian that it’s common for some dog breeds to have “webbing” in their paws. So, I decided to do some research on this topic and share my findings!
Do German Shepherds Have Webbed Feet?
Almost every dog, including German Shepherds, has some webbing between their toes. Webbing is a normal occurrence, and it’s considered to be natural. If you run your fingers between your German shepherd’s paws, you’ll notice a smooth area that’s slightly sticky. This is the webbing.
So webbed feet are not something that only certain dogs will have; it’s something that all dogs have to some extent. However, certain dog breeds take this trait a bit further.
The fact that some dogs have more webbing than others means that you may occasionally encounter a German shepherd that has a little bit of webbing between its paws. But it’s not something you should be worried about – it doesn’t mean your dog is not purebred!
Why Are There Some German Shepherds with Webbed Feet?
Some German Shepherd owners might think that German Shepherds that have webbed feet are probably mixed breed dogs. It’s true that some mixed breed German Shepherds have this condition, but purebred German shepherds can have webbed paws as well.
While your German Shepherd’s feet do have webbing in between their toes, you probably won’t be able to see it unless you look closely. This is because German Shepherds don’t typically have the same degree of webbed feet as other dog breeds like Portuguese Water Dog and Chesapeake Bay Retriever.
These dogs are also called “Water Dogs” because they have noticeable webbed toes that help them swim. Their paws are completely covered in webbing and resemble flippers.
The main reason for this is the way German shepherds are built. German shepherds were bred for land-based activities such as herding, so the breed doesn’t develop a webbed foot structure. As a result, there isn’t much space between their toes or around their paws that could allow for as much “webbing” to exist as in some water dogs.
What are The Benefits of Webbed Feet for Dogs?
Now you might be wondering why dogs have webbed feet. After all, isn’t that just a useless feature? Well, what you don’t know is that there are actually some benefits to having webbed paws for dogs. You might be wondering about these benefits, and I’m going to share with you some of the reasons why webbed paws can be beneficial for your dog.
Help with Swimming
Dog owners who love to take their dogs swimming will be very thankful for webbed feet. Dogs with this feature can navigate the water better and are able to stay afloat more easily.
Dogs with webbed feet can also move faster through the water than other dogs who don’t have webbed paws. This is important if you’re planning on doing any hunting where your dog will be swimming and diving a lot while retrieving downed birds or other game animals.
Walking in Swampy Areas or Muddy Terrain
Webbed paws can also be helpful if your dog is going to be walking in marshy or muddy terrain, such as after a rainstorm. Webs between the dog’s toes help it move through this type of terrain with less resistance and more balance. Webbing also prevents damage to your dog’s paws and pads as they walk through tough materials like mud.
More Nimble in a Slippery Surface
Webbed paws also help dogs be more nimble as they walk through snow or icy conditions. Having webbing in your dog’s paws will make them much more sure-footed when walking through smooth, slippery surfaces.
Making it Easier for Dogs to Dig
You’ll find that dogs with webbed paws are really good when it comes to digging. This is because these webbed feet essentially function like shovels that give them the ability to dig.
Because of all of these advantages, many dogs with webbed feet make excellent rescue dogs.
Are Webbed Feet Dangerous for My Dog?
Webbed feet are not necessarily signs of any medical condition or defect, so it is not necessarily dangerous. The condition can occur in some breeds due to genetics. Some experts predict that webbing may have emerged as an aid to swimming for ancient dogs bred for hunting in water.
To determine if a dog has webbed feet, you need to look at the feet while they are outstretched. If the toes appear like they touch each other, it is likely that your pet has had this trait passed down from his parents. Again, this is not necessarily dangerous and nothing to worry about at all.
Don’t confuse webbed feet with fused toes. Fused toes, also known as syndactyly, are a condition where the bones between toes have fused, preventing them from being moved separately. This condition is regarded as a hereditary defect and is sometimes corrected with surgery.
Webbed paws should always be treated with care when they are wet since excess moisture, as in the water, could make these areas more prone to infection since bacteria and other microorganisms can collect between the toes.
This is why you should always dry the webbed paws thoroughly after swimming and thus, prevent the likelihood of any such infection.
What Other Dogs Have Webbed Feet?
Labrador Retrievers are probably the most popular breed that has webbed feet. They have a double-layered water-resistant coat, a rudder-like tail that helps them turn in the water, and large, webbed feet. All of this winning combination makes them wonderful swimmers that can be useful for various water sports and activities.
Along with Labradors, the Newfoundland Dog is another breed that is known to have webbed feet. They have even thicker coats than Labradors, making them very good at keeping warm in the winter.
This breed was originally used as fisherman’s assistants in Canada. Their giant size and strength meant that they could easily pull in nets and fetch fish.
In more modern times, Newfoundland Dogs are often used to work as search and rescue dogs. Don’t get intimidated by their size, though. Despite their intimidating appearance, they also have charming personalities, which means they are a good fit for just about any family.
These small dogs are very popular in the United States and have long bodies with short legs. Unlike other water dogs, their webbed feet are not used for swimming. Instead, these feet help them to get through tough burrows as they search for rodents and other small animals on land.
While the Dachshunds won’t say no to a dip in the water, they are not likely to want to spend a lot of time in it. Their short legs and long body mean that they will get tired very quickly. This makes them less than ideal for anything but the shortest of water adventures.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
“Chessies,” as fans call them, are considered one of the best water dogs. Originated in the Chesapeake Bay, their bloodlines include those from Newfoundland Dogs and Labrador Retrievers, both are known for their excellent swimming abilities.
If you look at a Chessie, you will see some similarities to the Labradors. The only thing that differentiates them is the wavy coat. Long used for retrieving waterfowl, they have earned a solid reputation among hunters.
Otterhounds were originally used for hunting otters back when otters were not yet classified as endangered. Their big, webbed feet are very valuable in the water as they allow them to swim with ease.
Despite their history as fierce hunters, Otterhounds are actually very calm and gentle dogs. Well worth considering for anyone looking for a family dog.
One thing you will love about having one of these dogs is that they don’t require much grooming. A thorough brushing once or twice a week is usually enough to keep their coats in good condition.
German Shorthaired Pointer
Another powerful web-footed hunting dog! They are good for many hunting activities such as pointing and retrieving fowl, tracking down games, and digging out burrows.
At the same time, they are also very good family dogs that can be suitable for just about any household. They have a reputation for being loyal companions and always keep their owners safe.
However, due to their hunting background, they may not be comfortable with passive owners that have no interest in outdoor activities. They’ll be happiest with active owners that like to make the most out of their days by exploring different areas and going on various adventures.
If you’ve ever wondered about whether or not your dog has webbed paws, I hope this post sheds some light on the topic. German Shepherds are a popular breed of dog that many people believe have webbed feet, but they don’t typically possess them. At least not to the degree that you see in other water dogs.
Also read: Can German Shepherds Swim?