Labradors are cherished for their hunting and swimming abilities. They can swim through water without a problem, though some of them experience anxiety while trying. Webbed feet play a significant role in most animals’ swimming capabilities, so if you’re curious about whether or not your pup has webbed feet, you’re in the right place.
All Labradors have webbed feet to help them swim and walk through muddy terrain. Dogs with webbed feet are known as ‘water dogs’ since they can swim and retrieve in lakes, ponds, rivers, and more. Although they’re tough, a lab’s foot webbing might need bandages and disinfectant if they’re cut.
Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following information about labs with webbed feet:
- Whether or not all labs have webbed feet (and why)
- A handful of dog breeds with webbing between their toes
- How you can clean and protect your pup’s webbing if it’s injured
Do Labrador Retrievers Have Webbed Feet?
Labrador Retrievers are one of the most popular, beloved dog breeds in the world. They’re prized for their ability to hunt, swim, and stay on task. Most of their impressive capabilities come from their intelligence, but did you know labs have evolved to have webbed toes, padded feet, and strong muscles to improve their purpose?
All Labradors have webbed feet unless they’ve experienced an injury or birth defect. According to tover.com, almost all dogs worldwide have webbing between their toes. Contrary to popular belief, it’s much more effective than people think. The webbing is a big reason most puppies can swim without any training.
Compared to humans, dogs are excellent at swimming from birth. Labs can navigate ponds, lakes, pools, and more without sinking. The only issues standing in their way are fear of water, loud noises, or obesity. Overweight dogs have trouble swimming because they’re not balanced enough to stay afloat. They have to fight gravity and their body weight, which are far too much for their paw’s webbing to handle.
So, what is paw webbing, and why does your Labrador have it?
- It’s a thin membrane connecting your toes. When their toes spread apart, the webbing creates a wide surface so that they can push and pull water. It also works wonders when getting through mud, sand, snow, and other challenging terrains. As your dog relaxes its feet, the webbing recedes.
- Some labs have more webbing than others. It’s not a problem as much as a ‘luck of the draw’ as described by Embark Vet. More webbing allows your dog to swim and push through various terrain easier. Less webbing isn’t a problem, though your dog might not be able to swim as quickly or easily.
As you can see, all Labrador Retrievers are supposed to have webbed feet, but the amount differs. More or less, webbing isn’t a severe issue, but it’s worth asking your vet if anything’s wrong. If you want to learn more about other breeds with paw webbing, proceed to the next section.
Are Labs the Only Dogs With Webbed Feet?
Almost all dogs have webbed feet. In fact, the only dogs that don’t have webbed feet experienced an injury or birth issue. You might not be able to see it, but your dog has webbing between its toes. The amount of webbing depends on their breed and genetics, though. It directly impacts their ability to swim.
K9 of Mine suggests all dogs have webbing, but many of them lose it as they get older. It stays the same size as their paws grow, making it much less effective. The breeds that keep the majority of their paw webbing are known as water dogs. Alongside Labrador Retrievers, you’ll also recognize poodles, Dachshunds, and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers.
Lesser-known water dogs include otterhounds, German short-haired pointers, and American water spaniels. These breeds are capable of swimming and wading through water without any issues. As you read earlier in the article, all dogs are born with them, but they’re not all water dogs. In fact, some dogs aren’t prepared for swimming whatsoever!
Their Origins Matter
Labs have webbed feet for the same reason as other water dogs; Their origins can be traced back to places with lots of sand, water, mud, or a combination of all three. Labrador Retrievers are from Newfoundland, which is surrounded by water. They were used for hunting and retrieving their prey, hence the name, ‘Labrador Retriever.’
Another trait that made Labrador Retrievers such good water dogs is their water-repellent coat. As explained by Lorken Farms, a lab’s coat allows it to swim quickly without being pulled back by the weight of wet hair. Furthermore, it doesn’t shed too much if it’s adequately brushed. Less shedding means less clumped hair, oiliness, and weight.
As you can see, Labradors aren’t the only ones with webbed toes. However, every breed has unique origins that allow it to do well in water. Labs remain among the best swimmers in the world, though. They’re also incredibly athletic, possessing excellent endurance and strength to swim for 10 to 30 minutes.
If your dog’s foot webbing looks too thin. Injured, or you want a prep kit, read on.
How to Protect Your Lab’s Paw Webbing
Although labs have strong webbing, there’s a chance they could be injured. Whether they step on something sharp or their feet get dry and cracked, you should have a treatment kit ready to handle any problems. The good news is we have everything you need to know about protecting your lab’s paw webbing below.
- Clean the wound with room-temperature water. Make sure there’s not any debris in the cut, or it could cause infections. Also, move all of their furs out of the way to keep the workspace clean. It’s not bad for the would, but it can complicate the following steps.
- Use a disinfectant spray to clean the area. You could use something like EquiSilver Disinfectant Spray. It’s designed to prevent and treat infections and wounds. A few sprays are enough to clean most webbing wounds thoroughly. If the cut is deeper than an inch, you should take your pup to the vet.
- Wrap their paw(s) in gauze. Make sure it’s tight enough to stay secure but not enough to cut off blood circulation. If you notice blood leaking through the wrap, you should go to the vet. If anything doesn’t work as it should, proceed to step four for the final instructions.
- CC Animal Clinic says you should always go to the vet if their paw won’t stop bleeding or it’s not getting better. Never let a small injury linger; It could turn into a serious problem in a few hours. Make sure your dog doesn’t look like they’re in constant discomfort, either. It doesn’t hurt to get a regular checkup to be safe.
Preserving your lab’s paws will allow them to keep swimming and running as they should. Paw webbing injuries are uncommon, but it’s wise to stay on top of your dog’s health issues before they arise.
Labradors have webbed feet to help them move through mud, water, and more. They originated near water, which is why their feet have evolved to improve their swimming capabilities. However, not all labs are comfortable in the water. They might have trouble swimming for several reasons.
- All labrador retrievers have webbed feet unless they experienced an injury or birth defect.
- If their webbing gets cut, you should use disinfectant spray, bandages and visit the vet.
- Almost all dogs have webbing between their toes, but not all of them are considered water dogs.