All dog breeds have some webbing in between their toes, just as we have some extra skin between our fingers. But some breeds have extra skin here resulting in literal webbed feet.
Dachshunds are one of these superspecies with webbed feet – but how come?
In this article, we will explore how Dachshunds came to have webbed feet, the advantages and disadvantages of them and how best to care for your Dachshunds wee feet!
Evolution Of Webbed Feet In Dachshunds
Every part of a dog has evolved for a purpose. Their feet are no exception. The pad on the bottom of the foot evolved to part their feed from tough terrain and grip as they walk and their nails evolved as traction as they run and to help dig efficiently.
Some dogs have even evolved webbed feet, which may seem strange for a land animal right? Webbed feet are usually associated with animals that live in the water but webbed feet can have advantages for land animals such as dogs also.
Dachshunds are one of the handful of dog breeds that have significant webbing between their toes. The webbed feet help them swim more efficiently, as their little legs don’t exactly make them candidates for Olympic swimmers.
Dachshunds may seem sweet and cuddly (and they definitely are!) but weren’t bred for companionship, rather as hunting dogs. Dachshunds were bred to hunt badgers specifically and their small, long frame is built just from chasing badgers into holes.
Webbed feet come in handy for Dachshund because it makes digging up badger burrows more efficient due to the webbing creating a higher surface area on the feet of Dachshunds.
Advantages Of Webbed Feet
How can webbed feet be beneficial to Dachshunds?
- Swimming – webbed feet increase the foot’s surface area and capacity to shift water. This keep Dachshunds moving and afloat in the water as the rest of their body (see chinky abdomen and stubby legs) isn’t exactly the best for swimming.
- Digging – anyone that owns a Dachshund will be well aware that these little guys are absolutely digging machines. The webbing between their feet helps them shift higher amounts of dirt in shorter periods of time, saving them energy and allowing them to dig some impressive holes.
- Stability – webbing on the feet increases surface area for body weight to be distributed and helps with maintaining balance and stability.
- Grip – this increase surface area also means webbed feet can help grip Dachshunds to the earth on various substrates. Making Dachshunds all-terrain dogs!
Disadvantages Of Webbed Feet
While webbed feet offer Dachshunds a whole range of evolutionary and survival benefits, they also come with some downsides we have to be aware of when we own these little dogs.
- Cysts/abscesses – the webbing between a Dachshunds toes is more likely to get a cyst or abscess more than any other place on the body.
- Injury – webbed feet means more surface area, which means more opportunity to get injured. Webbing on dogs feet tends to be softer and more prone to injuries when your Dachshund steps on something dangerous, e.g sharp objects, bees/wasps, prickles.
- Infections – the webbing between feet cause more folds and space for dirt and moisture to get trapped. This means dogs with webbed feet are more prone to getting infections such as fungal or bacterial as the conditions in webbing can encourage the growth of these organisms.
- Parasites – parasites such as fleas, mites and ticks prefer the softer and furless areas of a dogs body. The webbing of a Dachshunds feet is a perfect place to harbour these little critters. Feet usually pick up parasites from the ground also, so webbed feet may pick up more parasites.
- Allergens – the nooks and crannies that webbed feet add to a foot also increase the likelihood of them harbouring allergens that can cause an allergic reaction and irritants such as grass seed.
Caring For Your Dachshunds Feet
Now we know all about Dachshund’s webbed feet, what good they do, and what issues they can potentially cause, we will share our top tips for taking care of their special little feet.
- Grooming – keep the fur around your Dachshund feet clipped close to the toes. This is especially important for the long-haired breeds as the long hair can pick up dirt, moisture and allergens. Long feet hair can also pick up snow in winter conditions and form ice balls that stretch your dog’s toes apart and cause them to crack and bleed. Well-groomed feet will also make them easier to you to check for any issues and for your pup to keep them clean.
- Careful of the elements – keep your Dachshund’s feet in mind when the weather changes. Hot concrete can cause burns on the bottom of dogs feet. If the ground is too hot for your feet, then it is too hot for theirs! The extreme cold can also be painful and problematic for your pup, causing dry and cracked pads or in the extreme, frostbite.
- Check them regularly – most dogs don’t particularly love their feet being touched as it is a vulnerable spot. Train your Dachshund at a young age to tolerate feet touching by offering lots of rewards when you play with their feet. You should check their feet as often as you can and pay special attention to the webbing between their toes for parasites or infections.
- Keep them dry – moist conditions encourage fungal growth and the webbing fold can harbour unseen moisture. Your Dachshund will likely clean their feet after coming in from outside but if they are regularly getting wet then you should help keep them dry but wiping them down with a clean, dry towel.
Protect them – if your pup’s feet are ultra-sensitive or you can’t avoid things that may harm them like substrate, moisture, or temperature you may want to invest in some dog booties to protect them. There is also a range of balms for pet paws that will help your pooch out.