Not only do German shepherds have large paws and toes, but it does appear that they have a little extra skin connecting between each toe, but is this webbing?
The technical answer is no, German shepherds do not have webbed feet. Although GSDs appear to have small webbing in between their toes, this doesn’t compare to true aquatic animals that have webbed feet.
Do German Shepherds Have Webbed Feet?
You’ve likely heard contrasting answers depending on who you ask with this question!
It’s true that German shepherds like most dogs do have a small bit of skin connecting between each toe…
However, despite the looks, this can’t be compared or likened to actual webbed feet that aquatic animals have in order to swim and stay afloat with ease.
Ultimately, German shepherds are land animals, raised to herd. While they are capable swimmers, swimming has never been a main role in this breeds history.
Their paws and feet are designed to work on-land, not swim.
German Shepherd Breed Standard (for their feet!)
The American Kennel Club explains that the breed standard for GSD feet is as follows:
The feet are short, compact with toes well arched, pads thick and firm, nails short and dark.http://images.akc.org/pdf/breeds/standards/GermanShepherdDog.pdf
As we can see, they do not highlight webbing as being a standard physical trait of German shepherds.
We always use the AKC to determine the original breed standard.
But Can German Shepherds Have Actual Webbed Feet?
In some rare cases, it is actually possible for non-purebred German shepherds to have excessive amounts of webbed skin in between their toes…
However, this is not considered normal and owners should take their GSD to the vet in order to have this checked out.
If your GSD has significantly webbed feet it doesn’t mean anything is wrong, but vets recommend a check-up to ensure that their quality of life isn’t being affected negatively.
But how can this happen?
In most cases, a German shepherd with significantly webbed feet will not be purebred.
There will likely be some level of mixed genetics within the bloodline from another breed with actual webbed feet.
Some of these breeds are listed below!
Can German Shepherd Still Swim Well?
The slight bit of “webbed” skin you might see in between each toe of your GSD will certainly help them swim to some extent.
While this isn’t quite the same as a duck, for example, it will no doubt help by increasing the overall surface area of your GSDs foot.
The connected skin in between each toe will create a paddle-like foot, allowing for greater pressure when moving through the water.
Even though German shepherds are not known as water dogs, many of them are confident in the water and make capable swimmers due to their natural athleticism.
What If Your German Shepherd Has Webbed Feet?
Assuming that their quality of life is not negatively impacted then nothing has to be done about the “webbing” between each toe.
However, I must point out that in some cases, veterinarians will want to surgically remove true webbing if it’s excessive.
This is because significantly webbed toes can lead to further health complications down the line.
But rest assured, this is very uncommon and likely isn’t the case for your GSD.
10 Breeds That Have Real Webbed Feet
Some other breeds really do have true webbed feet. And of course, these are all dogs that have a long extensive history of being used the water.
For dogs that have evolved over centuries swimming on a daily basis, their feet have adapted to make swimming easier for them.
10 Other breeds that have webbed feet include:
- Labrador retriever
- Portuguese water dog
- American water spaniel
- Chesapeake bay retriever
- Irish water spaniel
If you spread the toes of these breeds you’ll see webbing that expands out surprisingly wide.
The Benefits For Dogs With Webbed Feet
If your GSD does have a little more webbing than usual, then are there any benefits to this?
Aside from being able to swim better and more efficiently, dogs with webbed feet are better able to walk and run through various terrain on land.
Walking through sand, wet mud, marshlands, and snow will all be significantly easier if your dog has extra skin between their toes.
So yes, there are some fairly decent benefits to having webbed feet! It’s a shame we don’t!
Ultimately, while German shepherds do have a small piece of skin joining each toe, it’s not the same as a true webbed foot. The AKC also confirms that German shepherds do not have webbed feet.
Interesting resource: Wildlife Informer – 14 Animals With Webbed Feet