How Many Toes Does A Dog Have?

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Most people assume that dogs have 4 toes per foot, however, the real number is actually more than that. Keep on reading for the full number.

How Many Toes Does A Dog Have?

How many toes does a dog have? At a glance, it may appear that your dog has four toes per foot. However, most dogs also have a declaw on their front legs. For a total of 18 toes. But other breeds can even more toes 24 or more!

What Is A Declaw?

The declaw is located slightly up the leg of a dog. Typically only the front legs have declaws. However, some breeds have declaws in the back as well.
While it used to be the thing to remove declaws in young puppies it is no longer.

The main reason for removing declaws was due to a lack of understanding of the declaw purpose. Removing declaws can cause joint damage and arthritis.

Declaws are typically attached to the leg with bone and muscle. They mostly move forward and back with a limited ability to move sideways. Some declaws are only attached by skin but still have a nail.

Does the Declaw Have A Purpose?

Declaws look like they should have no use, rarely coming into contact with the ground. However, they do have a use!

The declaw is used when a dog runs at high speeds, especially when turning. The declaw is usually used by herding breeds, agility dogs, and even when a pet dog chases a squirrel!

Declaws are also used to hold bones or toys for better chewing or holding. If your dog were to fall through a sheet of ice their declaws would help to pull them out.

Some breeds even use their declaws to climb trees after their prey. In other breeds, the declaw is used for grip and stability on craggy, rocky ground or cliffs.

Breeds With The Most Toes

Some breeds are required to have more toes. These toes have a purpose unique to that breed. Many of these breeds are herding breeds.

Such as the Portuguese Sheepdog, Icelandic Sheepdog, Anatolian Shepherd Dog, Great Pyranise, Catalonian Sheepdog, Beauceron, Cao Fila de Sao Miguel, and Briard. The St. Bernard also has extra toes in the back.

Many of these dogs were bred to work at high speeds, turning and accelerating. Others were bred to work on rugged terrain needing their extra toes to help them stay balanced and move quickly over this rough ground.

The Norwegian Lundehund takes the biscuit where toes are concerned. This breed was originally bred to hunt puffins. They worked on craggy, rocky cliff areas. Used their extra toes to help keep their grip.

How many toes does this breed have? Six toes per foot for a total of 24 toes, some have even more! All the toes on this breed are fully functional.

Not only does the breed have extra toes they also have extra paw pads, an extremely flexible neck that allows their head to fold back to touch their spine, ears that fold shut, and shoulders so flexible that they can extend out perpendicular to the body!

A pretty amazing breed, all things considered.

Conclusion

So, how many toes does a dog have? The average dog has 5 toes on the front foot and 4 on the back. The extra toes on the front paws are called declaws. They are used to help with traction at high-speed and to help a dog keep their grip.

Some breeds have even more toes with more declaws on their back legs and/or front legs. Declaws should be trimmed as often or even more often than the regular toes that come into contact with the ground.

Resources

https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/5-things-you-need-know-about-dog-dewclaws
https://www.animalwised.com/why-does-my-dog-have-5-toes-on-its-back-feet-213.html
https://www.canidae.com/blog/2010/07/what-is-purpose-of-dogs-dew-claw/
https://petcentral.chewy.com/which-dog-breeds-have-the-most-toes/
http://www.ashgi.org/home-page/genetics-info/bones-joints/dewclaws
https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/norwegian-lundehund/