If I had to pick a favorite body part of my dogs, paws would definitely make the top 3.
I just love them. They’re furry and massive. They’re strong and soft. And they’re more complex than people realize.
Here are 8 cool facts that you might not know about those furry little paws:
A dog’s paw consists of 5 marvelous parts. The claws, digital pads, metacarpal pad, carpal pad and the dewclaw. The digital pads and metacarpal pad help to protect the joints and bone of the paw by acting as shock absorbers. The claws help to create traction and help a dog dig and tear.
The carpal pad helps the dog navigate treacherous terrain, such as steep or slippery slopes. They act as brakes for the paw. Dewclaws are thought to be the equivalent to human thumbs and can help dogs get a better grip on things. Some dogs, such as the Great Pyrenees, have rear dewclaws which serve a purpose to help stabilize them as they move around on rough terrain.
Each pad is made up of fatty tissue. This fatty tissue provides insulation and protects the paw from rough surfaces and cold surfaces. Some dogs have thicker paw pads than other dogs based on the climate where they live and working status. Most Newfoundland dogs will have thicker pads versus other breeds because they tend to be out in colder temperatures than others.
Dogs sweat through their paws. The inner layer of skin on their paws have sweat glands. These sweat glands move perspiration to the outer layer of the skin keeping the dog cool. Paws can also sweat when a dog is nervous.
Dog’s are digitigrade animals. These means that unlike humans, dog’s digits will take on most of their weight when they walk, not their heels. This is why it’s so important to practice good paw care! Most dogs have 5 digits, digit 1 is the dewclaw, digit 2 is the index toe and so on.
Newfoundland dogs have the longest toes of any breed followed closely by the Labrador Retriever!
Not only do dog paws come in different sizes, they also come in different shapes, cat feet, webbed feet, and hare feet. Each serves a purpose to the dog. Cat feet are more compact, this uses less energy to lift and increase endurance. The Newfoundland, Doberman, Akita, Kuvasz and Old English Sheepdog are some of the breeds that have cat feet.
Hare feet are more long and slender than cat feet. The two middle digits are longer than the outer toes. Some breeds that have hare paws are the Greyhound, Borzoi, Samoyed and Skye Terrier.
Webbed Feet are just that, they are webbed. Technically all dogs have webbed paws but some dogs have more tissue that connects the toes than others. This webbing allows dogs to swim faster and more efficiently. A few dog breeds that have webbed paws are Newfoundlands, Labrador Retrievers, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Portuguese Water Dog, and Standard Poodles.
Paw massages are good. If your dog can stand to have their paws touched then a paw massage is a great idea! Massaging the paw is said to relax a dog and increase circulation. Just think about how good it feels when you get a foot massage! Leroy loves a good paw massage but Sherman is not a fan.
Most dog paws have a distinct smell. We often refer to this as “frito feet” or “popcorn feet”. The smell is actually due to bacteria on their paws that they pick up when walking. This bacteria mixed with sweaty paws gives off a yeasty smell similar to corn chips! Overly stinky paws and paws that are red and irritated are not normal and can mean that an infection is present so it’s best to have those checked out by your veterinarian!
So what do you think? How cool are your dog’s paws now?
Looking to protect your dog’s pads from harsh conditions? Check out our Homemade Paw Balm.