Webbed feet are a characteristic of Labrador Retrievers. Labradors have more webbing between their toes than other dog breeds, which makes them better swimmers.
Labradors have been bred for decades to retrieve game from frigid waterways for their owners, which is a product of this practice.
When it comes to Labs, water mastery is a major accomplishment. With webbed paws, water-repellent hair, and a thick otter-like tail, these canines are suited for the water.
More water may be pushed out of the way using a paddle or webbing instead of just sliding it between the fingers.
However, not all Labradors are equipped with the ability to swim, and it’s only standard for your dog to be terrified of the water. Although most Labradors are natural swimmers and don’t need further instruction, others still need some time to get used to the water.
Why Do Some Labs Have Webbed Feet While Others Don’t?
The difference between Labradors with and without webbed paws is that some genes have been altered. It is called selective breeding.
There are two types of genes in every organism: dominant and recessive. The gene for webbed paws is dominant, which means that one copy of the gene is enough to make a paw have webbing.
If there is no webbing, then both parents must be homozygous recessive, which means they both have two copies of the gene that makes the paw not have webbing. If one parent has a gene for webbing and one for no, the offspring could have either gene.
What Is the Purpose of Having Webbed Feet?
There are many different theories as to why Labradors have webbed paws. The most common of these theories is that they adapt to swimming in water.
The webbing between the toes on the front paws makes it easier to paddle, which means that the Labrador Retriever has less water friction and can swim faster.
This adaptation would have been advantageous for Labradors bred to hunt waterfowl and other aquatic game, especially in cold water. The webbing also allows the paw to act as a spade or shovel when the Labrador Retriever is digging.
The thick, otter-like tail of the Labrador Retriever is also an adaptation for swimming, acting as a rudder and stabilizing the dog when moving quickly through the water.
Why Are Labradors Trained to Swim?
Labradors are one of the most common dogs used by law enforcement and the military due to their great sense of smell and ability to work long hours, regardless of the weather.
Dogs are also used in search and rescue efforts, finding missing people, and even uncovering dead bodies.
These dogs are in peril every day and must go into dangerous situations that involve not only the risk of injury but also the risk of being bitten. For these canines to safely dive into the water to retrieve evidence or a drowning victim, they must be able to swim.
These dogs’ most critical police work is search and rescue, where they have to swim in the water to reach a person.
The Drawbacks of Having Webbed Feet for Labs
Having webbed feet may have had its advantages in the past, but it also has some disadvantages in the present. Most notably, it can be difficult for a Labrador Retriever to walk in deep snow, especially when the weather is cold.
It may be difficult for the dog to walk in the snow because the tips of its toes may get caught in the snow. Although this may be an issue for dogs who spend a significant amount of time outdoors during the winter, it is not often a major concern for Labrador retrievers since they spend most of their time inside.
Another disadvantage of having webbed paws is that the dog’s claws do not have much room to grow out. Instead of growing straight from the toes, the nails curve inward toward the paw. It can make it difficult for the dog to walk on slippery surfaces, such as ice, without slipping.
The Misconception of Having Webbed Feet for Labs
As more people are warming up to having a Labrador Retriever, they are learning about the breed’s idiosyncrasies. One common misconception is that the webbed feet of the Labrador Retriever make its paws unsuitable for walking on hardwood or tile floors.
However, the truth is that dogs with webbed paws have the same kind of thick, durable paw pads as non-webbed breeds.
Labrador Retrievers do have big paws, but the paws are not webbed. It means the dogs can walk on hardwood and tile floors without causing any damage.
It is important to remember that large dogs like Labs can leave paw prints behind on any flooring, so people with wooden floors might want to consider keeping the dog out of certain rooms.
Why Are some Labs Afraid of Water?
Not all Labs have an affinity for water. Some dogs are terrified of any amount of water. The breed is known to be shyer around water, and this is often referred to as “fearful-oddity” or “FOBs.”
Other potential causes of water aversion in dogs include past trauma involving water, poor socialization around water, and health issues.
If your Labrador Retriever is afraid of water, there are a few things you can try to help them get over their fear.
Start by introducing the Labrador Retriever to water when they are young. The idea is to get them used to the sensation of water so that you can use a shallow tub with lukewarm water. Try to get the Labrador Retriever to put their paws in the water, but don’t force it.
If that doesn’t work, try desensitizing the Labrador Retriever to water. It involves putting them in water up to their chest and letting them learn to swim out.
Do not punish or scold the Labrador Retriever for being afraid of water. It will only make them more frightened and associate water with punishment.
How to Train Your Lab to Swim
If your Labrador Retriever is young and you notice that they are afraid of water, you can try to train them to swim. If your Labrador Retriever is older and is not interested in swimming, you will need to be patient.
You can try to get your Labrador Retriever interested in swimming by feeding them treats or toys when their head is underwater, and their paws are moving like they are swimming. You can also invite some friends over and have a swimming party.
Your guests should have their dogs with them and make sure that those dogs are comfortable in the water. You must be patient if you want to teach your Labrador Retriever to swim. It will not happen overnight, but they will get better with time.
The best thing you can do is build their confidence by having them; slowly get used to the water. Start by taking your lab to a lake or a river where the water is calm and shallow. You can also get an above-ground pool for your backyard and let them swim in there.
The Labrador Retriever breed is distinguished by its distinctively webbed feet, a physical characteristic. Although it is not something you notice every day, it is one of the characteristics that sets a Labrador apart from other dogs.
If your Labrador Retriever has webbed feet, you need to make sure that you are aware of how their mobility is affected and controlled by them. They come with their own unique set of difficulties and may need some more special attention and care.