While most dogs have some form of webbing on their paws, other breeds have a much more developed type of this feature. Webbing refers to the thin pieces of skin membrane that stretch between a dog’s toes. Every part of a dog’s paw has a purpose. The thick skin on the bottom forms a tough layer to allow the dog to walk on rocky or hot surfaces. The nails give traction and also aid in digging. Webbing in all breeds helps to stabilize the dog’s gait. Pronounced webbing helps to produce a powerful canine swimmer.
Not surprisingly, breeds with highly developed paw webbing are primarily dogs with a history of water rescue, hunting, and fishing. Dogs that need strong swimming skills use the webbing to push them through the water quickly and efficiently. For example, the Newfoundland’s webbed paws helped them perform water rescues for Canadian fishing vessels. Once the dog reached his victim, the Newfie’s powerful muscles and large size helped to tow the person to safety.