Newfoundlands are majestic dogs known as gentle giants due to their large size and sweet temperament.
This breed was developed by fishermen in Newfoundland to work on Canadian fishing boats and to perform water rescues in the icy and freezing waters of the North Atlantic.
Since Newfoundlands are working water dogs, you may be wondering if they have webbed feet?
Newfoundlands do indeed have webbed paws, which help them tread water faster and make them strong swimmers. Their webbed feet, in addition, to their strong lung capacity and water-resistant coat, have helped them become fearless water rescue dogs that can swim in the roughest oceans.
What Are Webbed Paws On Dogs?
While you may think only certain breeds like Newfoundlands have webbed paws, this is technically not true.
All dogs have some form of webbing on their paws. In the womb, all dogs have webbed feet, but the majority of dogs lose most of the webbing as they develop.
If you look at your dogs’ feet, you will see they have a thin membrane of skin connecting their toes, even if they do not have webbed paws.
Dogs with webbed paws have a significantly thicker skin membrane between their toes than the average dog.
While their webbing is not as thick and wide as aquatic animals like ducks, breeders selectively bred for this trait in dogs that spend a considerable time in the water.
You will commonly find webbed feet in breeds known for their swimming ability or for retrieving game in water during hunts.
Are There Any Benefits To A Dog Having Webbed Feet?
Dogs with webbed feet have many benefits, which is why certain breeds evolved to have this trait.
Breeds with webbed feet have a superior swimming ability compared to dogs with less webbing. Water pushes against the webbing on their paws, making it easier for them to swim faster and stronger.
Another benefit of webbed feet is they help dogs walk easier on muddy or soft ground by giving their feet a better grip on the terrain. They also help with balance on difficult surfaces.
These types of feet also help dogs dig faster, which is why dogs bred for burrowing, such as Dachshunds, tend to have thicker webbing on their paws.
Snow dog breeds such as Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes also have partially webbed feet as it helps them walk and run faster on snow and ice by preventing their paws from sinking in the ground.
Are There Any Drawbacks To A Dog Having Webbed Feet?
While there are many advantages to your dog having webbed feet, they require extra care to keep healthy.
Since dogs with webbed paws have excess skin between their toes, items like dirt, sand, and rocks can easily get stuck between their feet. The extra webbing on your dog’s feet can also make them more likely to develop abscesses, cysts, and comedones.
For these reasons, it is essential to check between your dog’s toes for any foreign objects after they are outside and to clean their paws frequently to prevent infections.
You should also check their paws for ticks, as these parasites will sometimes hide on the webbing between your dog’s feet.
To keep your dog’s webbed paws healthy, you should also apply a paw balm to keep them hydrated and to prevent cracking.
How Much Webbing Do Newfoundlands Have?
Newfoundlands have very thick webbing and large paws, which is why they are expert swimmers. This trait has also led them to develop a different swimming technique where they do more of a breaststroke than a doggy paddle when they swim.
By swimming this way with their webbed feet, they can tread water much faster than other breeds.
The Newfie’s large webbed feet, water-resistant oily double coat, and substantial build have made it, so this breed can navigate ice-cold water and powerful waves and tides to rescue people.
Other Dog Breeds With Webbed Feet
Newfoundlands are not the only dogs with webbed feet. Many other breeds, particularly dogs bred for water activities, share this feature.
Below are some examples of other dog breeds with webbed paws:
The most popular dog breed in the United States also has webbed feet due to its history as a water dog. Like Newfoundlands, Labrador Retrievers originated in Newfoundland, Canada, and were bred to retrieve ducks from water on hunts or to accompany fishermen on boats to retrieve fish from nets.
Labs are known for their love of water, and their paws have made them excellent swimmers.
Other retrieving breeds with webbed paws include the Chesapeake Bay Retriever and the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.
Poodles are another breed of waterdogs, though this should be no surprise since their name comes from the German word “pudelin,” which means splashing in water.
Bred to hunt ducks and other fowl in Germany and France, their webbed feed helped them swim fast to retrieve prey from water in frigid temperatures. Their signature poodle cut also was developed to help assist their swimming ability and to protect them from the cold.
The Standard Poodle, the Miniature Poodle, and the Toy Poodle all have webbed feet.
Portuguese Water Dog
The Portuguese Water Dog is a curly-coated dog from Portugal that was bred to be a companion of fishermen to help them retrieve fish, nets, and tackles and transmit messages from them to other ships and to the shore.
These jobs meant Portuguese Water Dogs developed webbed feet and waterproof coats to swim quickly in the ocean.
Otterhounds, like Newfoundlands, have developed tremendously large webbed feet, which gives them a strong swimming ability.
This breed was developed to hunt otters that were decimating the fish population in the rivers of England. Their paws have made them powerful swimmers, and some Otterhounds can swim up to 20 miles a day.
Like many water dogs, Newfoundlands have webbed feet that make them efficient and fast swimmers. These webbed feet have helped Newfies save countless people from drowning throughout history and are why they are prized water rescue dogs used by organizations around the world.