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What Is Paw Knuckling In Dogs? (Video)

What Is Paw Knuckling In Dogs?

**This post is sponsored by but My Brown Newfies only shares information with their readers that we feel is of interest to them. 

As many of you know, Leroy has been having issues with his hind end. He’s pretty wobbly on his back feet, his legs sometimes cross over when he walks and his right rear paw folds over and drags when he walks sometimes.

What Leroy is doing with his rear paw is referred to as paw knuckling.

Paw knuckling in dogs is when a dog walks with his paw bent over. It looks like they are trying to walk on the top of their paw instead of on the bottom.

Paw knuckling can happen with front and rear paws. It can be seen in just one paw, two paws, three paws or all four paws.  It can happen to dogs of any age, breed or size.

What causes paw knuckling in dogs?

Paw knuckling in dogs can be caused by many things.


When dogs become extremely sick or when they are seniors,  they can lose muscle mass caused by arthritis and inflammation. Injuries that prevent a dog from moving around too much can cause weakness also. Even some medications such as steriods can cause loss of muscle mass. In some cases of muscle atrophy the nerves are affected and they become smaller and weaker which can lead to a dog dragging their rear paws.  This is what we think is happening with Leroy

Paw Injury.

A red and irritated paw caused by an allergy, bug bite, thorn, laceration or exposure to hot pavement or a toxic chemical (ice melt) can cause a dog to not want to put pressure on their paw so they walk with it turned over.

Radial Nerve Damage.

The radial nerve is the largest nerve in the front leg and is responsible for extending the elbow, wrist, and toes.  When the radial nerve is injured, perhaps by trauma to the leg, lesion on the leg or cancer, paralysis of the front leg can occur.


Tumors that interfere with nerves, press on the spinal cord or otherwise affect the extremities or brain can result in paw knuckling.

Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD).

This is a condition where the cushioning discs between the vertebrae of the spinal column either bulge or burst into the spinal cord space. These discs then press on the nerves running through the spinal cord causing pain, nerve damage, and sometimes paralysis.

Carpal Hyperextension

Carpal hyperextension is seen mostly in large to giant breed puppies. The condition is normally noticed in the growth plate of the dog’s front leg, either in the wrist or carpal area. It happens when the part of the dog’s body that bears weight is not able to support his entire body.

Fibrocartilaginous Embolism

A fibrocartilaginous embolism is a disorder in which a piece of fibrous cartilage obstructs the blood supply to the spinal cord and causes paralysis. It is normally the result of an injury and the condition is often seen in large and giant breed dogs. It is also often seen in Miniature Schnauzers and Shetland Sheepdogs. 

Degnerative Myleopathy. 

Is a slow progressive, non-inflammatory deterioration of the white matter of the spinal cord. It is similar to ALS in humans and eventually leads to full paralysis of the hind-end. This is what my first Newfoundland, Thunder had and it’s what I’m hoping Leroy doesn’t have. There is no cure for DM. It can be seen in any dog but it is commonly seen in the German Shepherd.

What To Do If Your Dog Is Knuckling

If your dog is experiencing any kind of knuckling we recommend a trip to your veterinarian as this can be a sign of a serious condition. In many cases your veterinarian will recommend doing a serious of tests to rule conditions out. Treatment will depend on the cause of knuckling.

Physical therapy will most likely be needed and may include hydrotherapy, acupuncture, laser therapy or hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

I recently learned about a product from called the No-Knuckling Training Sock and they graciously sent me one to try out for Leroy.

No-Knuckle Training Sock for dogs that knuckle when they walk.

The No-Knuckling Training Sock is a temporary training tool for short-term, multiple use to help correct gait and improve hind paw placement. Designed in the USA by Renee Mills, VT, CCRP to combat knuckling (patent pending).

  • Provides training support for dogs who drag their back paws.
  • Stimulates a dog between its toes and causes him to pick the foot up higher.
  • Designed to enhance proprioception.
  • Perfect for rehabilitative use for pets recovering from spinal surgery.
  • Lightweight, comfortable, and adjustable, with convenient touch-fastener closures.
  • Training Sock best used on pet for two to five-minute walks and removed in between.

This is one of the products that I wish existed 15 years ago so that I could have used it on Thunder.

I’ve been using it with Leroy with great success and I was over the moon excited that it came in a size big enough for our gentle giants. It’s important to note that this product is a training tool and will not cure the condition that your pet has. It’s intended to train them to lift their paw higher to decrease dragging. It’s only meant to be used for 3-5 minutes per session.

If you have a dog that is knuckling, you may want consider asking your veterinarian to see if the NKTS would be helpful for your dogs condition. There’s a terrific video that you can watch and make sure to check out some of their other amazing products. 

Please keep in mind that I am not a veterinarian. This post does not substitute for veterinarian advice.

**This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your continued support. 


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Cathy Armato

Thursday 12th of July 2018

Wow, I can see from the two videos that the paw knockling sock really made a difference! Poor Leroy, he's had so much trouble the last couple of years - but he is a fighter and a trouper! I'm so glad you found this product. Sharing! Love & BIscuits, Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

Tails Around the Ranch

Tuesday 10th of July 2018

Aww, poor Leroy. That condition looks incredibly painful.


Monday 9th of July 2018

Katie had paw knuckling pretty bad, but we were able to get it back to normal with strengthening exercises and supplements. It is a terrible problem as that paw being dragged really gets beaten up. So sorry he is having to deal with this issue as it is no fun.

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