Like humans have skin between their fingers that connect them to each other, dogs have webbing between their toes. Some dogs have more than others. Here are 10 dog breeds that have webbed feet.
American Water Spaniel
This 19th-century dog breed from America was developed to help hunters. American Water Spaniels are not flashy in looks or performance. However, their thick coat and webbed feet helped them to navigate through the icy waters of the Great Lake regions.
They would retrieve the birds for their owners, no matter where the prey landed. The habitat of those birds was often in wet and dark areas. Therefore, the chances of shot birds falling in wet and muddy areas were very high.
The toes of an American Water Spaniel are quite close to each other. Consequently, the paws of this canine can become a makeshift paddle to swim.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Commonly known as ‘Chessies’, the origin of this dog breed is shrouded in mystery. The most popular opinion, however, is that they originated on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. These tireless retrievers have descended from other web-footed breeds, like the St. John’s water dog.
Chessies were bred as assistants for hunters. They have a thick, waterproof coat with double layers that allows them to withstand cold temperatures of Chesapeake Bay. Similarly, their strong muscular bodies and big webbed feet help them swim against the icy currents. The webbing between their toes is sufficiently wide to swim fast as they retrieve ducks for hunters.
German Wirehaired Pointer
The German Wirehaired Pointer, often called GSP, was selectively bred as a hunter. Primarily, this dog breed is bred to track and retrieve fowl for hunters. Over time, the selective breeding process gave these dogs a thick coat, webbed feet, and a strong sense of smell.
GSPs can traverse almost any terrain, be it muddy swamps or rough mountains. They can also speed through the water just as they can run fast on land. The webbed feet come in handy when GSPs swim in rivers and ponds. It is not surprising to see a non-hunting GSP rushing off into the water because German Pointers naturally love swimming.
Irish Water Spaniel
This 65-pound pup is the tallest amongst all spaniels and is easily recognizable by its striking tapered “rat tail”. It is clearly evident from the name of this dog breed that these canines are excellent swimmers. In fact, the Irish Water Spaniel is one of the best swimmers among dogs. They also hold the crown for being the oldest spaniels, dating back to the 7th century.
All of their swimming expertise is possible due to their webbed feet. They’re amazing retrievers and hunters who have a curly waterproof coat to counter cold-water currents. Given their energetic and fun-loving nature, they also make great family pets.
Perhaps the most popular dog breed with webbed feet is Newfoundland. Their evolutionary traits were even noted by the likes of Charles Darwin. They were used throughout history to help haul fish. Some are also bred as specialized water rescue dogs. They can also become useful domestic companions with proper training.
Newfoundlands are big but sweet-tempered working dogs on Canadian fishing vessels. This dog breed excels at swimming and has long toes that help it tear through water. The thick, waterproof coat and strong muscles make these dogs ideal swimmers.
One unique thing about Newfoundlands is that they swim differently than other dogs. Instead of a traditional doggy paddle, their paws go down and out.
These dogs were bred in the 19th century for hunters to help them collect their games. Compared to all dog breeds on this list, Nova Scotias have a significant amount of webbing in their paws. They are often called Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers because they are talented at grabbing ducks.
A thick coat protects this breed against the temperatures of Nova Scotia. These strong and agile pups can easily lure waterfowl close to a shooting range (hence the “tolling” in its name). After that, they dash into the water to collect the shot birds. This breed is an excellent companion dog given its affectionate nature.
The Otterhound is a rare dog breed that is native to the United Kingdom. They were originally bred in medieval England to (as the name suggests) hunt otters. Hunters used Otterhounds to trace otters that depleted fish supply in local fishing streams. Although otter hunting is banned now, Otterhounds make great family pets.
Their rough but water-resistant coat helps protect Otterhounds against harsh temperatures. They have a strong sense of smell, making it easy for them to find otters and their homes. Their large nose is sensitive enough to pick scent even underwater.
Otterhounds are extremely rare in the US. Therefore, make sure you shake its webbed foot and say hi when you find one.
Portuguese Water Dog
Portuguese Water Dogs are just like Newfoundlands, but smaller. These dogs were also bred to work in water, but they weren’t able to carry heavy loads. Consequently, this dog was assigned herding duties, instead of hauling fish.
Their curly, waterproof coat and athletic endurance mean they can stay in the water for a long time. Portuguese Water Dogs are excellent swimmers because their webbed feet make excellent paddles. These canines are extremely loyal and make great companions.
Redbone Coonhounds were one of the many breeds that were shipped from Europe to America. There, they were selectively bred to adapt to the new swampy terrain. These dogs are known for their courageous demeanor. They will fearlessly go into a swamp, scare off dangerous animals, and keep prey pinned in place until the hunter can go in for a kill.
Redbone Coonhounds have a stunning red coat that covers their strong muscles. Dreamy brown eyes give their faces an expression described by the breed’s devotees as “pleading”. These dogs are agile, graceful, and have webbed feet that allow Coonhounds to navigate swamps.
Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
This dog breed rightfully holds the title of “supreme gundog”. Wirehaired Pointing Griffons are incomparable when out in the field. They’re known for an extremely harsh and bristly coat that gives them a naturally disheveled appearance.
These dogs get their name due to the wire-like appearance of their rough coat. Despite its natural ruggedness, this hardworking dog looks handsome. The webbed feet allow this dog to speed through water, as it tracks and chases targets.