We get many questions from future Aussie owners about the paws of Australian Shepherds… Most notably, whether or not they have webbed feet.
Australian shepherds do not have naturally webbed paws, despite their love for the water. Even though many Australian shepherds become great swimmers, their paws have none to very little webbing.
Do Australian Shepherds Have Webbed Feet?
No, Aussies do not have webbed feet. In many cases, if you spread the toes of an Australian shepherd you will see a tiny piece of skin connecting the toes together, but this is not large enough to be considered “webbed”
“Webbed feet” , like what ducks have, refers to an obviously large piece of skin joining each toe, creating almost like a paddle.
Of course, Australian shepherds do not have webbed feet like a duck.
While some other breeds do have a large piece of skin between each toe, Aussies do not.
Why Australian Shepherds Do Not Have Webbed Paws
Simple put, Australian shepherds do not have a history of being used in the water. This breed was developed for decades on land, with very little water exposure.
If we compare the paws of an Australian shepherd to the paws of “retriever” breeds, there’s a huge difference in the webbing.
Breeds that had an extensive history of being used in the water, like labradors for example, have much larger webbing between each toe. This is simply because they were used in the water for centuries. Aussie were not.
Australian Shepherd Paw Anatomy
Although Australian shepherds do not have webbed paws, they do have well-developed, thick & strong paws.
Australian shepherds have:
- 1 Carpal pad (the solo pad further up the ankle)
- 1 Metacarpal pad
- 4 Digital pads
- 4 Claws
- 1 Dew claw (yes, Aussies have dew claws!)
Are Australian Shepherds at a Disadvantage By Not Having Webbed Feet?
No. Australian shepherds are certainly not disadvantaged in any way by not having webbed feet.
Ultimately, Aussies are herding dogs and are not designed to be used for working purposes in the water.
Still, Aussies that are exposed to water and swimming from a young age can become excellent swimmers, regardless of their paws anatomy.
Aussies will not run any slower or be physically impaired by having minimal webbing.
This short article should have covered your original question sufficiently. If you have more questions about Australian shepherds please contact us!
For now, check out more Australian shepherd articles!