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Home > Dogs > Does a Border Collie Have Webbed Feet? Facts & Benefits

Does a Border Collie Have Webbed Feet? Facts & Benefits

a border collie dog looking sick covered with blanket on couch

Border Collies are affectionate, active, athletic, and intelligent. they are also highly energetic, caring, and protective of their families. Due to their fun-loving, frisky personalities, these dogs require at least 2–4 hours of daily exercise where they can freely run, play, swim, or perform similar activities.

One of the things that makes these dogs stand out is their swimming ability. Border Collies are typically excellent swimmers, which makes many owners wonder if these dogs have webbed feet.

Border Collies are unique in that scientifically speaking, they don’t have webbed feet. However, this breed does have minimal webbing in between their toes.

In this article, we talk more about Border Collies and everything to know about this breed’s paws.

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What Are Webbed Feet?

Webbed feet represent feet in which the toes are webbed (joined together by flexible tissue and skin). The medical term for webbed feet is “syndactyly” or “interdigital membrane.” It is what enables animals to swim and maneuver on the water easily. Many birds, such as ducks, swans, and geese, and even mammals have webbed feet.

This condition can even occur in humans, though it’s quite rare. All humans and dogs have feet webbing in the sense that the toes are connected by skin. However, that’s not the same as webbed feet. The webbing can be either a membrane, skin, tendons, or a combination of these. The shape and size of the webbing can vary per species; larger webbing typically means the feet’s surface will also be large.

So, while most dog breeds do have webbing, only the few breeds bred for swimming have true webbed feet.

brown border collie dog lies in the autumn forest
Image Credit: Julia Suhareva, Shutterstock

What Causes Webbed Feet?

Having webbed feet is a hereditary trait, an evolutionary characteristic of animals that spend their time in aquatic environments.  Most scientists believe that webbed feet result from natural selection, as it provides an advantage in specific environments (in this case, water).

The Benefits of Webbed Feet in Dogs

All dogs have a certain amount of webbing on their toes, but only a few actually have webbed feet. One of the main benefits of webbed feet in dogs is that they enable canines to be better swimmers.

They also have many other benefits, including:
  • Helping with digging
  • Helping with catching underground prey
  • Promoting improved balance in the mud
  • Having better traction in swampy or slippery areas
  • Keeping cool in hot weather
  • Preventing dog’s feet from becoming too cold when working or swimming in cold weather
  • Helping with running and maintaining balance
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So, Do Border Collies Have Webbed Feet?

Scientifically speaking, Border Collies don’t have webbed feet, as they are working dogs. However, this fun-loving breed does have minimal webbing between their toes that attaches them to one another—this is something that all Border Collies are born with!

Since their feet are not actually webbed, the Border Collie is not considered a webbed-foot breed. However, even the small amount of webbing that these dogs have provides them with a great advantage when swimming, running, and even maintaining balance on slippery surfaces.

Overall, it’s an excellent trait that helps your Border Collie perform all kinds of activities and makes them extraordinary swimmers.

How Can You Check If Your Dog Has Webbed Feet?

You can look at your dog’s paw while gently separating the toes to check if your dog has webbed feet.

If your dog has webbed feet or feet webbing, you should be able to see a flap of skin between the toes; on some dogs, this skin can be long and run all the way to the nail, while in other dogs, it’s much shorter and closer to the top of the canine’s foot.

PK_Webbed feet in dogs
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Is the Webbing Between the Toes of a Border Collie’s Feet an Advantage or Disadvantage?

Although small, the webbing that Border Collies have between their feet is an excellent advantage for these dogs, as many of their abilities are enhanced. The webbing assists with swimming, having more balance, running, digging, and doing various other activities.

Since webbing is natural in most dogs, your Border Collie’s webbing won’t require any kind of special care. Usual nail trimming is enough to keep this breed’s paws in good shape.

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Which Dog Breeds Have Webbed Feet?

Most dog breeds have feet webbing in the same sense that Border Collies have feet webbing, meaning they’re not true webbed-foot breeds. Only a handful of dog breeds are truly considered webbed-foot breeds due to their characteristically extensive webbing.

However, even in the breeds that are categorized as webbed-foot breeds, genetics play an important role, meaning that not all puppies will have webbed feet. Therefore, most breeders pick dogs with the specific trait (in this case, webbed feet) for breeding, as that creates higher chances of producing webbed-foot puppies.

Common dog breeds that are considered webbed-foot breeds and are likely to have webbed feet from birth include the following.

1. Newfoundland

Newfoundland in the river
Image Credit: rzoze19, shutterstock

Newfoundlands, also known as Newfies, are giant-sized dogs that originate from Canada. This breed of gentle giants is incredibly affectionate, loyal, and caring. They can reach up to 26–28 inches in shoulder height and weigh 100–150 pounds.

Many Newfoundland dogs have developed webbed feet due to their history and origin; they were primarily used for helping fishermen on their boats to help if something happened. The webbed feet of Newfies enabled them to swim better and faster, while their double coats kept them warm even in harsh weather conditions.


2. Portuguese Water Dog

Portuguese Water Dogs
Image Credit: slipschutz, Pixabay

Portuguese Water Dogs have webbed feet due to their evolution through history. These dogs were primarily used to help fisherman herd fish into their fishing nets.

This is an extremely active breed that requires daily mental and physical stimulation. They typically have curly or wavy coats and moderate grooming needs. They are intelligent, affectionate, and caring, which is why they’re great pets for families with kids.


3. Labrador Retriever

obese golden labrador retriever dog looking upwards while it sits in the grass peacefully
Image Credit: iLight photo

Labradors are highly energetic and active, which is why they were and still are great hunting companions. This breed of large dog can weigh between 55 and 80 pounds and reach a shoulder height of 21.5–24.5 inches.

Labrador Retrievers are agile, and they need plenty of mental and physical stimulation for proper development. This breed also often has webbed feet, making them excellent swimmers and helping them move around in the snow.

These canines are loving, caring, affectionate, and eager to please their owners. They get along well with other pets and young children, which is why they are great pets for families.


4. Poodles

miniature poodle puppy on the grass
Image Credit: Sue Thatcher, Shutterstock

Poodles are known to be excellent swimmers, which they do so well due to their webbed feet. They can walk on muddy surfaces and move smoothly underwater.

Poodles share this trait with other water-retrieving dog breeds, though not all Poodles have this unique characteristic. Still, this breed is loving, friendly, and social, so they make an excellent pet for people who want an energetic canine.

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Final Thoughts

Border Collies aren’t considered a webbed-foot dog breed, as they are not water-retrieving dogs. However, like most other dogs, Border Collies have small webbing that connects their toes.

Although their webbing isn’t as large and prominent as that of water-retrieving breeds, even this small amount helps Border Collies swim well and perform all kinds of activities more easily.


Featured Image Credit: Lindsay Helms, Shutterstock

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