Some animals are natural-born swimmers with special advantages to help propel them through the water. There are even some dog breeds that have paws that have been adapted to swim with ease, but do Greyhound have webbed feet?
Greyhounds do not have webbed feet. As sighthounds, Greyhounds have bodies that are designed for rapid acceleration on land to help them chase down prey using sight and speed, so their paws are not well suited to being in the water. Their feet are relatively small and compact, great for pushing off from the ground, which is similar to other fast-moving animals like the hare.
The Greyhound breed has a very specialized body that allows them to move faster on land than any other dog, but they are not designed for swimming. This article will go into detail about the physiology of the Greyhound and why they aren’t considered to have webbed feet, as well as some interesting information about the dog breeds that do.
Do Greyhounds Have Webbed Feet in Any Way?
There are several different types of feet that dogs have, some having large amounts of webbing between the toes to help them with swimming or digging. Most dogs actually have a small amount of webbing between their toes, but Greyhound paws are not considered to be “webbed”. Instead, their paws are specifically shaped to help them to run as fast as possible on land.
Greyhounds are part of a group of dog breeds known as sighthounds. These dogs were bred to hunt using their vision and speed rather than scent and endurance like a scent hound would. Of all of the sighthounds, the Greyhound is perhaps the most specialized because their unique bodies allow them to move faster than any other dog on the planet.
Just looking at a Greyhound you can tell that they are made for speed. They have slender bodies and short, tight coats, which means they are very aerodynamic and are able to slice through the air when they run. Greyhounds even run with a special gait known as a “double suspension gallop” which utilizes their flexible bodies to achieve full extension in the air.
Under the surface, Greyhounds have even more specializations, including powerful hearts, large lungs, low body fat, and a high percentage of fast-twitch muscles, that allow them to achieve speeds of up to 45mph (72km/h). Because their bodies are so well designed for sprinting, they don’t really have any adaptations to help them in the water.
What Type of Feet Do Greyhounds Have?
Greyhounds have feet that are generally considered to be hare-like. This foot shape is typical of sighthounds like Greyhounds, Whippets, and Borzois, and is characterized by two central toes that are longer than those on the inside and outside.
They don’t have much of an arch to their toes and the overall shape of their feet is quite compact, so it requires more energy to push off from the ground while they are moving. The benefit of this foot shape, however, is that they can get off the ground with more power, allowing these dogs to reach much higher speeds.
Are Greyhounds Good Swimmers?
Greyhounds are not natural swimmers, but they can enjoy a swim with the right support. They often find it tricky to stay afloat, can get cold quickly and may become tired, but they are perfectly capable of having a nice swim once they have learned how.
To reduce their body heat when they are sprinting, Greyhounds have a short coat that acts as more of a thermal conductor than an insulator. Other breeds have a lot of oil in their fur to keep them warm in the water, but Greyhounds do not, and their lack of body fat also contributes to them feeling the cold when they’re in the water.
Another side effect of being very slender and having almost no fat on their bodies is that Greyhounds are not naturally buoyant. This, combined with the fact that they have relatively small, compact feet, means that they have to work hard to stay afloat. Greyhounds are also better suited to short bursts of exercise than endurance activities, so they can get tired quite quickly in the water.
How Do You Get a Greyhound to Swim?
Despite the fact that their bodies are not especially well suited to swimming, most Greyhounds like getting in the water once they feel confident and know what they are doing. It can be a lot of fun and is a great form of exercise which is gentle on their joints.
If you want to get your Greyhound swimming, there are a few ways to ease them into the water.
- Start out slow. Jumping straight into the ocean can be intimidating for even the bravest of dogs, and it can be dangerous as well. Start getting your Greyhound used to having a bath, then perhaps paddling in a shallow pool before allowing them into any water where they can’t touch the bottom.
- Stay positive. Give your dog as much praise as possible when they are having a go so that they feel more positive about the experience. Make sure to reward your Greyhound with a lot of love while they are in the water, not just when they get back to dry land.
- Support your dog. When your dog starts to take their first cautious doggy paddles, make sure they feel supported and know they are not going to sink. You might place your arms underneath them so they stay comfortably at the surface while they are learning. Investing in a floatation vest can make all the difference, especially for longer swimming sessions.
- Show them what to do. Your Greyhound will feel much more confident if they can see you swimming safely and happily as well. Stay calm, because your excitement may make them nervous, but show them how fun swimming together can be.
- Make them feel safe. Your dog needs to know that they are not in any danger, so make sure they can easily reach an area of water where their feet touch the bottom, and they can quickly get out if they need to. Never let your dog swim in water that may have a dangerous current and never leave them to swim unattended.
Some Greyhounds have a bit of an aversion to water, either because it is cold and unpleasant on their skin or because they are a bit frightened. With enough patience and support, however, almost any dog can learn how to enjoy a nice swim.
What Type of Dog Has Webbed Feet?
There are quite a few breeds of dogs that have feet that are webbed. All this really means is that their toes are connected by a notable membrane of skin, rather than being fully separate from each other. This webbing can act like a paddle, allowing the dog to propel themselves more easily through the water, or as a shovel for moving dirt.
Webbed paws are generally less compact, providing more resistance through the air and reducing the force with which they can push off the ground. Dogs with this type of paw are usually slower on land, but faster and more efficient in the water.
Some of the dog breeds which have naturally webbed feet include:
- Newfoundland. These gentle giants spent many years working on Canadian ships and have large, webbed feet to help them swim through the water. They were even strong enough to dive after people trapped in the waves and bring them to safety.
- Irish Water Spaniel. Amongst the oldest spaniel breeds in the world, the Irish Water Spaniel’s webbed feet were very useful for hunting and retrieving in all sorts of terrain.
- Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Descended from other swimming breeds like the Newfoundland, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever was bred to help duck hunters in and around the estuary it was named after.
- Portuguese Water Dog. Originally bred on the beautiful coasts of Portugal, these dogs worked alongside fishermen, herding fish and retrieving lost tackle or broken nets.
- Dachshund. Slightly different from the other breeds on the list, the webbing on a Dachshund’s paws is actually to help them with digging rather than swimming. There were originally bred to hunt for badgers and other burrowing animals, so they needed to be able to dig through the dirt with ease.
How Can You Tell if Your Dog Has Webbed Feet?
Most, if not all, dogs have a small amount of webbing between their toes to connect them together safely. It is often barely noticeable, but you might be able to see it if you know where to look. When you separate the toes, you may see a thin membrane of skin connecting them together – this is the webbing.
The Verdict: Do Greyhounds Have Webbed Feet?
So, do Greyhounds have webbed feet? The answer is no, Greyhounds have paws that are specially designed for sprinting, and most do not have any significant amount of webbing between their toes.
Most dogs have a small membrane connecting their toes together, but some breeds, like Newfoundlands and Irish Water Spaniels, have feet that are actually considered to be “webbed”. More often than not, webbing allows these breeds to propel themselves more easily through the water, but it can also assist in activities like digging. Greyhounds, on the other hand, have hare-like paws for sprinting, which are strong and compact.
Although Greyhounds don’t have the perfect bodies for it, they can still enjoy a good swim if they are well supported and given the confidence. They might not have webbed feet, but their bodies are incredibly specialized in other ways, making them some of the most fascinating dogs on the planet.