Dogs belong to the category of finger-walking animals. This suggests that during the movement of their heels and wrists do not touch the ground, and the fingers take on most of the weight load, so it seems that they walk "on tiptoe". Due to this feature, they can dramatically change the direction of movement, jump to the side and perform other "maneuvers". Compared to humans, dogs' fingers are very short, and pets cannot move them. Since the interdigital space is minimal, only some of their mobility is preserved.
The number of fingers on the dog’s paws
It is believed that normally in dogs, regardless of gender, age and breed, there are five toes on the front legs (four primary and fifth - optional) and four on the hind legs. But there are also individuals in which you can count five fingers on the hind limbs. Such additional elements are called arrived or wolf claw, and their appearance is atavism (a sign that was present in distant ancestors, but eventually lost its function).
On a note! The dewclaws of the dog's forelimbs can be used when chewing bones or toys, as they help to grip and hold the object better. It is also believed that they provide better adhesion to the ground, which allows the animal to maintain stability while moving on rough and uneven surfaces at high speed.
Specialists cannot unambiguously determine why some puppies have a dewclaw finger, while others do not. Some are confident that the suppressing gene is responsible for the appearance of the extra element, therefore when mating a female with a normal paw and a male with atavism, in most cases puppies with paws are born, like in the father.
Exceptions to the Rules
For most breeds, the presence of such a finger on the hind legs is considered to be a vice, therefore, such animals may not be allowed to participate in exhibitions. But for individual breeds, the five-finger hind limbs are an integral confirmation of the purity and quality of the breed, which is enshrined in the standards. If during the exhibition the expert does not count the required amount, the animal can simply be removed from the ring. These breeds include:
- Nenets husky (reindeer spitz);
- Briard (French Shepherd);
- Pyrenees mastiff (mountain Pyrenees dog);
- beauceron (french shepherd)
- Catalan Shepherd Dog.
For all other breeds, dewclaws of the hind limbs are more often recommended by specialists to be removed at an early puppy age (on days 3-6). They do not carry any useful function during movement, but can catch on something and even come off during games, training and other activities. This is especially true for dog owners who are fond of hunting: the presence of an additional process on the hind limbs can bring additional difficulties. In the process of hunting, the dog should move much faster than in everyday life, and the extra element on its paws will interfere with movement in the thickets, cling to mud or branches.
The number of fingers in a dog is not an indicator of the state of health and the presence of the "fifth element" is not considered a pathology. Proper and careful foot care is essential for health. Regular washing, starting from puppyhood, will prevent the appearance of an unpleasant odor and fungal diseases, and massage of the paws between the pads will improve blood circulation and help relax the limbs.