What a strange question! Although it’s one that you must have asked to find yourself here. Who would have thought of the possibility that dogs could even have webbed feet, isn’t that a duck thing? Why would a dog even need webbed feet, what benefits can it have, and does it apply to all dogs?
Hailing from the duck hunting Poodle and the fisherman’s companion the Newfoundland, the Newfypoo inherits the webbed feet of its parents and forebears, usually having a love for the water the webbed feet of the Newfypoo will make propelling through the water an easier task.
You may be surprised to find that a number of canines were originally bred for water-based activities or retrieval. Let’s take a look at whether the Newfypoo and its ancestors fall into this category.
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What are Webbed Feet?
Webbed feet are what ducks and other water birds have. If we apply some logic to this, it’s not as crazy as one would first assume that a dog bred to spend its working life in the water would also have a region of webbing on their paws. After all, this characteristic will help them to push through the water much more successfully.
A webbed paw on a dog does look fairly similar to that of a duck or swan and it’s easy to tell if your dog has them. All you have to do is take a look. Take their paw and spread their toes a little. They literally have extra skin (webbing) between the toes connecting them together or they don’t. I’ll bet those of you who have dog and don’t already know if they have webbed feet are now having a look!
FUN FACT – All land vertebrates have webbed feet during their early development in utero. This is most probably a throwback to their early beginnings in the water when they would have been necessary for effective movement. As the foetus grows, this webbing generally subsides in most species apart from those who spend a lot of time in the water.
Why do Dogs have Webbed Feet?
Whilst most dogs have a thin membrane between their toes, those that have a history of water work or retrieval generally have notably webbed feet. We look at the Poodle and the Newfoundland a little further into article as these relate directly to the Newfypoo. However, other breeds with webbed feet include the Golden Retriever, Labrador Retrievers, Portuguese Water Dog, Otterhound and Chesapeake Bay Retriever.
The main purpose is to make swimming and water navigation easier by increasing the surface area of the paw. It stands to reason that being able to swim easier will in turn allow one to cover a greater distance. This is very helpful should a working dog need to cross through various bodies of water to retrieve the catch. Think of yourself in a pair of flippers, how much easier does it make gliding through the water? This is the same principle and achieves the same end goal as a dog’s webbed feet.
However, the water is not the only place where webbed feet are helpful. Other terrains such as muddy or slippery surfaces are more easily circumnavigated with the semi grip and redistribution of weight that webbing allows for. Think of a trail runner using different shoes or Eskimo’s using snowshoes.
History of the Poodle
The Poodle is often referred to as the French Poodle but there is much debate as to whether they in fact originate from the French Barbet or in Germany. There is no debate however that they are descended from water dogs be that the Barbet itself or crosses of various other European water dogs such as the Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian and Russian.
The word Poodle is derived from the Germanic Pudlehund, hund meaning dog and Puddle translating to ‘to splash in water’. There is no doubt that its history is water based. In fact, its history is particularly rich spanning back as far as the 1500’s in Europe. In 1631 the Poodle appears in the foreground of a self-portrait produced by Rembrandt.
Originally developed as a gun dog and retriever, they were used more specifically to retrieve duck and upland game birds. This was an activity practiced by the gentry and aristocracy, making this spectacular canine a breed not often found in the company of the average commoner.
Due to both the reason for their development and the breeds used to create them, the Poodle is one of the many dogs who have webbed feet.
History of the Newfoundland
A gentle giant of the canine world, this strapping and mighty Newfoundland native is the epitome of a dog who was born to swim. These hard laborers were originally bred to work alongside fishermen in the cold Canadian waters. Their size and muscle make the perfect combination to effortlessly haul in carts and fishing nets.
The Newfoundland has a thick, double coat which is oily and water resistant. These traits protect them from those cold shores they were bred to work in. They have an amazing ability to swim thanks to their huge lung capacity which enables them to swim long distances, and their sturdy build allows them to navigate strong ocean waves and tides.
They also have their own unique swimming style. Unlike the usual doggy paddle of other pooches, the Newfoundland uses its paws in a down-and-out motion which powers them through the surf with greater ease.
From fisherman’s friend to live saver extraordinaire, the Newfoundland has incomparable lifesaving capabilities. That strength and muscle used to haul in fishing nets doubles up to give them legendary abilities. They have been known to rescue many an overboard sailor or fisherman and they are still used to this day as a water rescue dog.
Their enormous webbed paws give them supreme momentum in the water alongside their distinctive swimming style.
The most famous of all Newfoundlands is probably Seaman. Read all about Seaman who joined explorers Lewis and Clark on their North American journey as their guard and companion. He often accompanies them in dedicated monuments across America.
Can Breeding Guarantee a Dog with Webbed Feet?
Crossing two dogs with webbed feet is most likely to result in a litter of puppies with webbed feet. Crossing a dog with webbed feet and one who only displays a thin membrane will give you more variations and no guarantees when it comes to the paws of their offspring.
Just like F1b Doodles are bred to increase their hypoallergenic properties, the same principle can be applied when it comes to breeding with the aim of the offspring having webbed feet. If the F1 dog was bred with a Poodle and a breed without webbed feet, breeding the F1 back with the Poodle which of course does have webbed feet would increase the chances of the F1b also having webbed feet.
Breeders are continuously attempting to breed standards into Doodles in the hope that they will one day become recognized by kennel clubs around the world. Whilst the webbing is not a standard in any recognized breed, to increase the chances of breeding a good swimmer then this multigenerational refinement could well play its part.
How do You Care for a Dog’s Webbed Feet?
Normally dogs who have webbed feet need no more foot care than those without. Usual practices are recommended such as keeping the nails at the right length. These should just touch the ground as they walk. Lots of clickity clacking is a good indication that it’s pedicure time. You can do this yourself but it’s important to not cut too short as you risk cutting to the quick. If you don’t feel confident, your vet or groomer can soon cut their nails.
Check their toes and pads often. Dirt and detritus can get caught up inside them. If you find something this can usually be removed using a pair of tweezers and care. However, if a foreign object is lodged too deeply then you may need to take your pooch for a visit to the vet. Wounds can also be a problem if they have stepped on something sharp. A small cut can be taken care of at home with an antibacterial wash and then covered with a dog bootie. However, deeper cuts will need to be seen to professionally.
Inclement weather can also affect your dog’s feet. Extreme heat in the summer can cause blisters and burn. If you are unable to keep your hand on the hot sidewalk or sand for more than 7-10 seconds, then it’s going to burn your dog’s paws and needs to be avoided. Similarly, the cold winter weather can bring its own problems in the form of cracking and chapping. Gently washing them regularly with warm water can help to prevent this and pet-safe balms are also available to buy.
In extreme cases of webbing, you may find that your pooch has two or more toes fused together. This is congenital defect called syndactyly. Should your Newfypoo be born with syndactyly your breeder or vet will be able to advise you further.
So here we find ourselves at the conclusion to that unusual question. We are more knowledgeable on why some dogs have webbed feed and how it helped them in their original working roles. As for the Newfypoo, unless there is a throwback in genetics then they’re going to be webbed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Doodles Swim?
Due to the vast number of different Doodle breeds this simply isn’t a yes or no answer. Some can swim, some can’t swim. It will largely depend on their genetics, but it wouldn’t be that unusual to find an expected swimmer with a dislike for the water, or a breed not known for their swimming abilities to want to take the occasional dip.
You can learn more about Doodle swimmers and how to keep them safe in the water by checking out our piece on do Doodles like to swim?
How Big do Newfypoos Get?
The average Newfypoo will weigh in at a massive 70lbs – 90lbs and stand between 22” and 30” tall as an adult. They are the second largest breed of Doodle. Take a look at what is the largest Doodle breed to compare them to other large, and small Doodles.