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Have you been curious to find out the answer to “Do German Shepherds have webbed feet?” but can’t seem to find a straight answer.
I’m here to dispel the lies and myths you might have heard. And the answer may surprise you!
Read on to find out if German Shepherds’ webbed paws are actually the truth or a lie! And discover if a German Shepherd is still a purebred should they have this unusual trait.
Do German Shepherds Have Webbed Feet?
No, German Shepherds don’t have true webbed feet by the breed standard. However, GSDs do have an area of skin between the toes that connects the paw together, which is web-like.
Almost all dogs have some degree of this web-like skin between their feet as it’s a natural occurrence.
The American Kennel Club standard for the German Shepherd Dog does not reference webbed feet. Instead, the AKC standard describes the breed as having short, compact feet with well-arched toes. Their paw pads should be thick and firm and the nails short and dark.
Some people may consider the thin skin between a German Shepherd’s toes as being webbed. When in reality, all dogs have this “web-like” skin. This may give rise to all of the questions regarding “Do German Shepherds have webbed feet” found online.
Let’s put it this way…
Look down at your own hands. Do you see the tiny bit of skin that connects your fingers together at the base between your fingers?
Would you say you have webbed hands simply because you have skin connecting your fingers together? No, most people wouldn’t believe that this connective skin is thought to be truly webbed.
A simple misinterpretation of this idea may have given rise to the idea that German Shepherds have webbed feet, which isn’t true. All dogs have this web-like feature, much like all humans have web-like skin between their fingers.
Webbed feet are considered outside the breed standard, but they don’t detract from your dog’s beauty and are even thought to help your dog with a more powerful swim stroke!
Have you also noticed that some German Shepherds have compact cat-like feet while others have long toes?
Find out which one is the breed standard and if you’re caring for their feet the right way here…
Why are there some German Shepherds with webbed feet?
Simply put, not every breeder follows the breeding Standards. This isn’t necessarily bad if the breeder is selecting their German Shepherds based on other more important qualities, like overall health and temperament.
Rounded toes well closed and arched. Pads well cushioned and durable. Nails short, strong and dark in colour.
True German Shepherd webbed feet are extremely rare since it’s not a desired trait. And most breeders wouldn’t choose to keep German Shepherd webbed feet in the bloodline since webbed feet don’t meet the standards for the breed.
Do Purebred German Shepherds Have Webbed Feet?
Yes, purebred German Shepherds can have webbed feet. If you’ve noticed that your German Shepherd has webbed feet, they’re still perfectly normal and a purebred if you have the correct registration paperwork.
German Shepherd webbed feet are an unusual feature, but shouldn’t worry you if your dog’s paws are completely healthy and fit otherwise.
If you’re only checking your German Shepherd’s feet to see if they’re purebred or not, then understand this isn’t a good way to determine breed lineage. Only a DNA test can give you a straightforward answer.
Why Do German Shepherds Have Web-Like Feet?
From an anatomical standpoint, the skin between a German Shepherd’s toes is meant to help keep the toes together and provide stability. But dogs only need a small amount of skin to provide the strength needed for their feet to function properly.
Much like you only need a thin piece of skin between your fingers and your hands are still strong and able to move freely.
However, some German Shepherds may have webbed toes due to genetics. Webbed feet in German Shepherds is a genetic trait, meaning it can be carried throughout the genes from the parents, grandparents, and many more generations back into a German Shepherd puppy’s lineage!
A very small portion of the German Shepherd population could have webbed toes, but this is rarely reported in the Shepherd Dog.
Even less reported is truly fused toes, as described below.
Fused Toes Versus Webbed Feet
When a German Shepherd’s toes are fully fused together and they don’t have any space between them it’s called “syndactyly,” and in some cases can mean there are other more serious health issues.
Dogs that have true syndactyly, when the toes are totally fused together, may require surgery to move their feet and paws normally and freely.
There isn’t much research about syndactyly in dogs. And most German Shepherds with truly fused toes are perfectly normal happy dogs (that may even love to swim)!
Don’t confuse webbed feet where there’s the skin you can touch between the toes with fused feet. They’re quite different.
Do Webbed Feet on German Shepherds Provide Any Benefits?
Swimming and Webbed Feet
The most natural evidence we have that webbed feet in German Shepherds may be beneficial is that other breeds with webbed feet are found to be excellent swimmers and retrievers in the water. Webbed feet make swimming easier because the extra skin and webbing increase the paw’s surface area.
This increased surface area of their feet and toes may translate into a stronger swimming stroke as the foot pushes through the water with quickness and ease.
Webbed Feet on Land
A German Shepherd is a land-based working breed, and the larger surface area may help them to walk across muddy areas faster and allows them to sink more slowly as compared to a German Shepherd without webbed paws.
In addition, when a GSD walks over slippery areas the webbing between their paws may provide them with a stronger grip on the surface, so they’re less likely to fall.
Did you know that most German Shepherd owners don’t give their active working breed enough exercise?
What if your German Shepherd Doesn’t Have Webbed Toes?
Most dogs will have web-like toes as this is part of how they’re bred. This web-like surface gives their feet stability and strength, like the web-like skin between your fingers.
If your German Shepherd has true webbing, then you’ll want to have them check out by your vet for any other issues.
Most German Shepherds with webbed feet are perfectly fine, but it’s best to be sure.
What Other Dogs Have Webbed Feet?
Many other dogs have webbed feet that aid in their jobs and make their work easier for them. With that being said, the webbing effect isn’t as noticeable as other water creatures, like ducks.
For other dog breeds that have been specifically bred to have webbed feet, they are generally used as water dogs where they spend most of their days in or near water.
Here are 10 dog breeds that are known to have the advantages of webbed feet per their breed standards:
Portuguese Water Dog
German Wirehaired Pointer
American Water Spaniels
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
German Shepherd Webbed Paws: The Truth Revealed
Remember that every dog has a little bit of skin between the toes that is normal and natural. This web-like feature gives a German Shepherd strong, stable paws, but it isn’t considered true webbed feet.
Most German Shepherds paws aren’t going to be completely webbed together, as this is extremely rare in dogs. But, you will find a small percent of the German Shepherd Dog breed that may have a medical condition known as syndactyly.
Remember, webbed feet are generally not a serious medical condition and can have advantages for your German Shepherd. The extra webbing provides a greater surface area that gives your GSD a more powerful swim stroke and helps them to move across slippery and wet surfaces.
Whatever feet they have, webbed or not, they’ll love you for their lifetime!
Catherine Krasavin owns Shepherd Sense, a dog website aimed at German Shepherd owners and lovers. She has a Bachelor of Science degree, with Honors, and has been training dogs for over a decade. Catherine’s currently attending continuing education courses to keep up with the latest in animal science, as well as earning her diploma in dog training. She owns a plush coat German Shepherd who was awarded Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme Gold Award - the highest level of achievement.
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