Dogs’ paws have developed over time depending on where they come from and their particular jobs.
A dog’s paw has 5 parts: The claws or nails which give the dog gripping ability; pads under the toes; the metacarpal pad located past the toe pads; the carpal pad on the front paws in the back of the foot; and the dewclaws.
The dog’s feet are made of bones, tendons, ligaments, skin, connective tissue (cartilage and fibrous tissues) and blood vessels.
Dewclaws in most cases appear to have no purpose except to give the dog gripping ability when chewing a bone or toy. Scientists believe they were once a fifth toe or thumb. Some owners prefer to remove the dewclaws because they can interfere with a dog’s work by getting caught on material. There are breeds such as Border Collies who use dewclaws to remain stable making sharp turns when running. Some breeds like the Briard have double dewclaws on their back legs.
Dogs place most of their weight on their toes when walking or running. This is common in predators giving them increased speed and quiet movement.
The pads are made of fatty tissue and protect the feet when the dog walks on different types of surfaces. In cold weather, blood vessels in the pads send the blood back into the body to be warmed. Working dogs tend to have thicker and rougher pads as they spend much of their time outdoors on varied surfaces.
Dogs have sweat glands in their feet located in the inner layer of skin. Sweat from the glands helps to cool the dog down in hot weather or stressful situations.
Dogs have different types of paws depending on where they come from and their particular jobs. Some dogs have cat-like paws such as the Akita, Doberman Pinscher, Tibetan Mastiff which gives them a stronger grip. Breeds like Labrador Retrievers and Newfoundlands have webbed feet aiding them when they work in water. Hare feet are long with the 2 center toes longer than those on the sides, giving dogs such as Greyhounds more speed.
Dogs use their paws to communicate with humans and other dogs. A dog will place his/her paw on you to get your attention, whether s/he wants a pet, is hungry, just wants to connect with you or wants to alert you to something. Dogs sometimes place their paws on another dog to encourage playtime. Placing a paw on another dog can also be a show of dominance.
A dog’s paws are meant to take a lot of punishment and are an important part of the body providing mobility,. Paws should be checked of often to prevent any problems from developing.