Do Springer Spaniels Have Webbed Feet? – Springer spaniels have webbed feet, increasing their paws’ surface area and make them stronger swimmers. English springer spaniels have much thicker webbed feet than some other spaniel breeds, formed through generations of breeding, which means the skin doesn’t easily break, and so infections are not likely.
Springer spaniels are a very active breed of dog with plenty of vitality and zest for life, and one of the ways that lots of springers love to burn off some of their energy is through swimming.
To do this, spaniels have thin membranes of skin in between each of their toes called webbing, making them stronger swimmers. But why do springer spaniels have webbed feet? And are there any care tips to be aware of?
Do Springer Spaniels Have Webbed Feet?
The first thing to note is that all springers have some form of webbing on their feet. Some of the dogs have much more prominent skin layers between their toes than others, but this depends on the animal.
If you can’t see any webbing on your spaniel’s paws, don’t worry! Many springer spaniels were bred as domestic pets rather than working dogs, and these animals have not adapted as obvious webbing between their feet. Even so, your springer will still be an excellent swimmer!
Why Do Springer Spaniels Have Webbed Feet?
- Swimming – The main reason any animal has webbed feet is to have more power while moving through water. The skin membrane gives a bigger surface area on the paws so that instead of water running straight between each toe when the springer paddles, it gets trapped, and the dog can use this to push forwards.
- Protection against sharp objects – These small pieces of skin have multiple purposes. They can also protect the main, fleshy part of the foot from unwanted materials becoming trapped – the tough skin means thorns don’t cut through as easily.
- However, on long walks in the summer, you may find that some particularly sharp grass seeds and brambles get stuck in the webbing of your spaniel’s feet. This happens so that the main foot is protected – if your springer’s feet were not webbed, it would be much harder to retrieve small, sharp objects from deeper in the foot, and it would also be more painful for the spaniel.
- Balance – The other use for webbed feet is to stay balanced while walking through mud or snow. Having a layer of skin means that the springer’s foot is a flatter surface rather than four toes with gaps in between – it effectively gives the dog a better grip on the ground (although claws do this, too!)
- Breeding – The reason that springer spaniels have webbed feet is because they were originally bred as working dogs. To serve their purpose, they needed to move through water almost as easily as running on the ground.
So over time, the breed adapted webbing between their toes to meet the physical demands of their jobs more efficiently.
Can Spaniel’s webbed feet get infected?
In general, springer spaniels’ webbed feet aren’t regularly injured – as mentioned before, the thick skin is difficult to pierce, and it doesn’t crack or tear on its own.
However, if thorns get stuck inside the foot and aren’t removed or cut the webbing, and the wound isn’t cleaned correctly, the springer could potentially get an infection, which would be quite painful to walk on.
The other way that spaniel paws can become injured is if the fur around the webbing is clipped too short. If the hair is a stubble, it can irritate the feet’ webbing and possibly start to become ingrown.
This condition can be quite painful, but it is more commonly found in short-hair dogs like labradors, so be careful when clipping around the feet or take the spaniel to a professional groomer.
The best thing to do is check your springer’s paws regularly for foreign material and if your spaniel is biting his feet to the point that they’re raw, or is reluctant to stand or walk on a particular foot, contact your vet for a diagnosis.
The webbing isn’t often infected, though, so the chances are that if your dog is simply biting his paws, it may just mean that there is some mud or a leafs in his fur – nothing to be concerned about!
How do I look after my spaniel’s webbed feet?
Springer spaniels are very lively dogs, and they bounce around a lot, so their paws can be damaged quite frequently. Look for cracks or tears in the fleshy pads on the paws of your spaniel to make sure he has healthy feet. Here are some tips on how to avoid any damage:
- It’s a good idea to take your springer spaniel on walks with soft ground, e.g., mud, or sand paths, if you can see some damage to the paws
- When it comes to grooming, the hair wants to be short enough to avoid infections – long, shaggy hair around the paws can make it difficult to remove mud, which might have some nasty diseases that could potentially cause infections inside scratches or cuts, and it also makes it difficult to spot any thorns or small twigs stuck inside the webbing
- However, it is also important that the fur around the paws is long enough not to cause ingrown hairs – consult a dog-grooming professional if you are unsure about the length to cut hair to
- Clean thoroughly between the toes regularly – just avoid spreading them too far apart, or it may start to pull on the webbing and hurt your spaniel
So do springer spaniels have webbed feet? In a nutshell, all springers have some form of webbing in their feet, and it is more prominent in working dogs than in domestic breeds. They mainly use it for swimming because it gives them more power, and the skin is relatively tough, so it is not prone to disease, although it is still essential that you clean your dog’s paws properly.