Why Some Dogs Have Webbed Feet
While many dog breeds have skin between their toes, not all have proper webbed feet. Webbing is a characteristic that is only present in specific dog breeds.
Dogs with webbed paws have a highly developed, thick membrane between each toe on their feet.
Webbed paws are most beneficial for dogs bred to swim. The extra surface area on their paws helps them easily push through the water.
Dogs with webbed toes have more agility in the water and can move through the water more quickly.
In addition to water dogs, canines who live in harsh terrains, like areas with a lot of mud or snow, also benefit from having webbing between their toes. Again, the surface area of their paws makes a difference and gives them more stability when running in these environments.
Some popular dog breeds with webbed feet include:
Does My Pitbull Have Webbed Feet?
Pitbulls don’t have webbed feet. There is a thin connective tissue between their feet, but that is not technically webbing. All dog breeds have some connective tissue between their feet to help them swim and float in water. Pitbulls that possess webbed vertebrae extremely rare.
Dog breeds with webbed feet are typically water dogs like the Labs, Portuguese Water Dogs, or Poodles.
Webbed feet are usually made of toes and a thin layer of skin between them called a membrane. It’s the tissue that connects the toes, making them look like duck feet. Dogs that have webbed feet can swim very quickly.
They can paddle through water by propelling themselves the same way your flippers propel you whenever you go snorkeling. Apart from swimming, dogs with webbed feet can also paddle through mud without much difficulty. Ducks, swans, and amphibians are known to have webbed feet. But some dog breeds have webbed feet as one of their prominent features.
Do Pitbulls have webbed feet?
Pitbulls do not have webbed feet. Many pit bull owners conclude their dogs have this feature, but this is a wrong observation. Though their toes are connected, they are not webbed feet.
A thin lining of tissues exists between their toes. This lining helps them swim, float in water, and paddle in mud.
Labs, Portuguese Water Dogs, and Poodles are common breeds that possess webbing, making swimming extremely easy for these dogs. The pit bull breed rarely includes webbed vertebrae.
Pitbulls have inherited features from water dogs. Since they own the genes of water dogs, they can have webbed feet, but this is rare. Pitbull owners often misunderstand the connective tissue with webbed feet.
All dogs have these connective tissues between their toes. If you see lines between the toes of the pitbull, do not confuse it with webbing.
Pitbulls were mostly considered hunter dogs.
The feature of webbed feet was of no use for them.
Hunting and sport fighting are activities for which Pitbulls were used in ancient times and do not require paddling feet. So, Pitbulls were historically not bred with water dogs and did not inherit this trait naturally.
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the world standard of dog registries does not recognize Pitbulls as distinct breeds. Dogs having short legs, big heads, and largemouths are all clustered in the category of Pitbulls.
Due to this, many Pitbulls have a mixture of various characteristics. Mixed breeding might have led to the evolution of webbed feet in your pitbull.
The puppy that you adopt can have genes of different breeds. Many pitbull-appearing dogs are crossbreeds. For example, a bull-like pit puppy can result from the mating of a Labrador and a Staffordshire Terrier.
If your pitbull is crossed with breeds like Labrador Retriever, Newfoundland, Poodle, Portuguese Water Dog, Otterhound, and Irish Water Spaniel, there are good chances of inheriting webbed feet as a trait.
Another reason for webbed feet in pitbull can be a genetic abnormality. This characteristic has resulted from the unique genetic background of the pitbull.
Sometimes due to a genetic disorder, a dog’s feet get fused, giving it a webbed feet-like appearance. Breeders agree this trait can be due to genetic mutation.
However, other reasons include formative or developmental issues, bone malformations, and degenerative bone issues like dysplasia or luxating patellas. Get your pitbull checked by a vet so that you can avoid future complications.
Webbing can lead to health hazards. Webbed feet ease swimming for dogs that can easily float in water and paddle through the mud. But this feature of webbing comes with some health dangers too.
Since dogs use all four legs to walk, webbed feet can lead to limping. Some other conditions that your dog can suffer from due to webbed toes are as follows.
The lower part of the dog legs consists of two bones, namely the tibia and fibula. They occupy the back portion of the legs. These bones have a high role to play in the premature closure of the growth plate.
The genes that stimulate webbed feet are also responsible for the fusion of tibia and fibula bones.
Shortening of these two bones can cause limping and bone fractures. However, these conditions can be treated well with surgical operations but can be dangerous for your dog.
The Cleft palate gets accompanied by webbed feet in many cases. Cleft palate syndrome is not alone as such dogs also have other genetic abnormalities.
Webbed feet result when dogs are an embryo inside the belly of their mother.
Usually, the mouth roofs of dogs are stuck together, and there is no blank space. But in dogs with webbed feet, instead of the mouth roof being stuck together, their feet get joined.
The problem with cleft palate is that it gives more access to bacteria and viruses inside a dog’s body.
It opens a wider path for the entry of pathogens through the mouth. It is an unnatural opening between nasal passage and mouth, making your puppy more prone to pneumonia and many other respiratory deficiencies.
Another condition that occurs due to webbed feet is scoliosis. Here, the spine of a dog bends to either side instead of being straight. It leads to one side of the spine getting stronger than the other.
This condition also leads to limping and improper walking. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential; otherwise, your pitbull can become completely paralyzed.
The condition can get diagnosed easily by checking how your dog carries weight.
You can yourself verify it by touching the back of the dog. You can observe this condition in any breed at any stage. But since scoliosis is related to bone malformations, dogs with webbed feet have higher chances of being affected.
Whether webbed feet are good or bad is a complex question to answer. To put it in simple words, it varies from fog to dog. While some take immense benefit from webbing, some might develop health conditions.
Is there any solution to problems that get created because of webbing? Yes, surgery is an option when your dog is not able to walk because of his syndactyly.
If his webbed feet do not trigger any spinal injury, it is outstanding, as there is no need to consider surgery.
But if unfortunately, any such situation occurs, operational treatment is the only possibility. Removal of webbed feet is a tedious process and has a long recovery time post-surgery.
If your dog has developed any bone problems, it will be wise to focus on that particular bone treatment rather than the webbed feet removal. The best is to seek the advice of your vet as she will guide you perfectly. Look into all present and future complications before you take a final call.
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