Paws. Pads. Nails. Claws and everything in between those gorgeous soft pads. Read on to find out more about grooming, shaving, clipping, and trimming your Poodle’s feet.
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The Poodle’s feet consist of one big central stronger pad (Metacarpal Pad) surrounded by four smaller pads (Digital Pads). I often think they look like little teddy bears. Have a look at my dog’s pads in the main image, cock your head over to the left – can you see the Koala Bear?
The pad can be brown, black, white, or pink, or even a mixture of colors. They are soft and plump with a fatty layer but have a thick rough covering of skin to protect the foot from injury.
The four smaller pads that are the “toes” are joined together by a flap of webbed skin. This is because the Poodle is a “water” dog, and the webbed feet act as flippers to help propel the dog through the water.
There are many other dogs with webbed feet – well, all dogs technically have webbed feet, but water dogs, like the Poodle, have particularly pronounced webbing. The webbing also helps when the dog is walking through soft or boggy fields as the skin between the toes stops the feet from sinking too much – much like a set of snowshoes! Take a look at our sister article do Newfypoos have webbed feet to learn more.
Hair or fur grows over the top of the foot and also in between the pads. Being Poodle, this hair can tend to get very long without maintenance.
Are Poodle Paws Different from Other Dogs?
Dogs are categorized into groups according to their history, uses, and purpose. The Poodle was originally bred as a water dog and retriever. This is because all dogs with webbed feet proved to be fantastic swimmers, so were put to work in that field and thus any descendent of a particularly proficient swimmer will have inherited the webbing.
This in turn produced a line of Poodles that all have the characteristic webbed toes.Other dogs with webbed feet are:
- Portuguese Water Dog
- German Short Haired Pointer
- Chesapeake Bay Retriever
- Irish Water Spaniel
What are Dog’s Paw Pads For?
The pads act as shock absorbers, protecting the fragile bones in the foot from damage and making running a smoother experience for the dog’s body. The pad has a thicker, rougher type of skin which helps the dog walk comfortably through rough terrain and very rarely gets injured on their pads.
There is also a cluster of sweat glands in the paw and between the toes which enables the dog to regulate its temperature. A dog can only sweat through its feet. Ever smelled your dog’s feet? I wouldn’t recommend it!
Do Poodles Self-Maintain Their Feet?
Poodles like to groom their paws and often lick their paws after a meal, after a walk, or when they are hot (cleaning the sweaty odor off). They will also self-maintain any rough edges around their claws and pads by nibbling on them.
Nails are usually kept naturally short if your dog largely walks on concrete or the sidewalk. The rough surface acts like sandpaper with every step and actively files the claw down to an ideal length where it is just long enough to gain traction if needed, but not so long that the tap-tap-tap with every step.
If your dog exercises on grass (my Labradoodle has arthritis, so I avoid all hard surface walks for him) then you will need to regularly clip the nails as they have nothing rubbing on them to file them down. As a rule of thumb, if I can hear the tapping of my dogs’ claws on my floors at home, I know it’s time for a quick clip.
What Extra Care do Dogs’ Feet Need?
As the Poodle is a low shed dog, the hair in between the pads can get long and matted. This will cause the dog to nibble them as it feels uncomfortable (rather like when you get a stone in your shoe) and it would help them a lot if you snipped the knots out for them. A foot bath will help a lot, both with the smell, but also to flush away any gravel or seeds from in between the pads.
If pads have become dry and cracked, you can buy specialist balm to rub on the pads to moisturize them. Ensure it is dog friendly, as you can guarantee that your dog will want to lick their feet as soon as you have creamed them up.
Always check the pavement before going for a walk in the heat. Burned pads are excruciatingly painful for your dog and can take a long time to properly heal. Press the back of your hand on the pavement for 10 seconds. This will give you an idea of how hot it is. If you could not stand comfortably in bare feet on the pavement, neither can your dog.
Foreign objects can also wedge themselves in between the toes and cause your dog to limp or lick the feet excessively.
In Between the Pads
Keep the hair on the feet and underneath nice and short. Invest in a set of clippers with a narrow clipping edge to get to the hair that is growing in the deep crevices in between the pads.
Give the toes a good rub with your fingers to feel if there are any foreign objects jammed in between the toes. Grass seeds are notorious for getting stuck there. Try to ease any object out with your fingers or a set of tweezers. Give up and take your dog to a vet if you cannot remove the object. It may have hooked itself into the skin and you will cause more harm than good if you wrench it out.
Nails should be clipped short, just slightly longer than the quick. The quick is the blood supply running through the core of the nail. On white claws, you can see it as a pink center. On darker claws, it is impossible to see the quick. There is, however, a natural “v” shape that indicates where the quick ends. The point of the “v” points towards the end of the claw. Clip a couple of millimeters longer than the point of the “v”.
You may find that filing the edges smooth after clipping will keep the claws from catching on carpets and soft furnishings. Use just a regular nail file to do this. There are many fancier gadgets to do this that require batteries. These usually have a rotating disc that grinds away any sharp edges. I’ve never found one that my dogs will tolerate though, so I stick with scissors, clippers, and a nail file.
What Foot-Related Issues are There?
A Poodle puppy or older dog may have an issue in which they obsessively chew and/or lick at the paws and in between the pads. This is often a sign of anxiety or boredom but make sure you do check their paws anyway.
The constant licking can cause an array of problems and pain, such as thinning hair around the area, sores appearing, and skin becoming red and raw. We have a full article called why does my Labradoodle lick his paws which is full of further information.
Constant licking of the area may cause the foot to be prone to infection as the body’s natural defense is to secrete the white blood cells to the affected area and this can be quite sticky, thus aggravating the wound.
Some Poodles may do this so much that the paws actually bleed. Once skin breaks open, infection sets in that brings about a whole new set of issues that can only be resolved by a professional.
The main causes of discomfort in your dog’s feet are:
- Split Claws
- Surface Irritants
- Worry / Anxiety
- Grass Seed
- Ingrown or Matted Hair
Take 5 minutes out of your day every week to get into a routine of checking on all four feet to keep your dog healthy and happy. Prevention is so much better (and cheaper) than the cure.