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Do Golden Retrievers Have Webbed Feet?

Do Golden Retrievers Have Webbed Feet?

Ducks aren’t the only animals with webbed feet – turns out, dogs can have webbed feet, too!

When you look closely at your Golden Retriever’s paws, you might notice that their toes are connected by skin. This isn’t by accident.

The question remains, though: do Golden Retrievers have webbed feet? Let’s find out together.


An Intro To The Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world for a reason. Maybe it’s their friendly nature, their advanced intellect, or their silky, water-repellent yellow coat (and if you are wondering why that coat might not be fluffy, we have the answer). Either way, they are one of the most recognizable and adored dogs by hunters and families alike.

Because of these characteristics, Golden Retrievers make exceptional search and rescue dogs, hunters, and service dogs for people who need assistance.

They are playful and goofy by nature, but they can learn commands quickly and pick up tricks and other skills easily. This makes them particularly useful in disaster situations and makes them incredible companions for people with disabilities.

Selective breeding

These features are not random, however. Aside from being loyal and friendly, Golden Retrievers were specifically bred to be good swimmers.

The first Golden Retrievers were selectively bred to be bird dogs, used specifically by their owners to hunt waterfowl.

The breed came about by crossing many different dog breeds, including Setters, Spaniels, Newfoundlands, and Bloodhounds. By combining the most favorable features of these different dog breeds, a strong dog who can swim well, hunt, and retrieve prey was born. That’s how we got the Golden Retriever we know and love today.


Do Golden Retrievers Have Webbed Feet?

The short answer? Yes! Golden Retrievers do have webbed feet. The long explanation is much more interesting.

What causes webbed feet?

Webbed feet in dogs came about as Golden Retrievers adapted to their aquatic environment. This process is called selection. In natural selection, traits that help an animal thrive in their environment become more common than traits that make life harder.

Because Golden Retrievers were raised by their owners to be hunting dogs, the dogs who were better at hunting and swimming would be the ones their owners would want to reproduce. Eventually, the Golden Retriever’s webbed feet became a feature of their biology.

The occurance of webbed feet in a Golden Retriever is not entirely due to natural selection though, and selective breeding played a massive role, as pups who could swim better were selected for breeding.

While most Golden Retrievers have webbed feet, that does not mean that all of their webs look the same. The trait is controlled by a specific dog’s genetic makeup, meaning that each Golden Retriever will differ slightly. Some will have a few webbed toes, while others may have more prominently webbed feet.


The Purpose of Webbed Feet in Golden Retrievers

Retrieving in water

It’s often easy to see a dog’s instinct based on how they behave. When interacting with your Golden Retriever, it’s easy to see that it was bred to hunt and retrieve fowl.

With a bit of practice, you can train a Golden Retriever to be the perfect hunting companion. Golden Retrievers use their keen sense of smell and strong swimming skills to retrieve game that has been shot and killed by their owner. Whether on land or in the water, they excel at retrieving.

Search and rescue skills

For a lot of the same reasons as stated above, Golden Retrievers are one of a few breeds known for their search and rescue ability.

If a swimmer is drowning in a river, pool, or stream, they can use their webbed feet to propel them forward and swim strongly against a current. Because they have such a strong build, keen sense of smell, retrieving instinct, and swimming skills, they are uniquely equipped to help save someone’s life if they run into trouble in the water.

Hiking through tough terrain

If you’ve ever seen a Golden Retriever run around on a mountain or at the park, you’ll notice that they are very agile. Even on uneven or rocky ground, they can maintain their balance and traction exceptionally well.

This skill is attributed to their webbed feet. The webbing between their toes works together with their nails to grip the ground they walk on quite strongly. That means they can easily run up a steep hill and handily navigate a rocky mountain hike. This extra grip also comes in handy in muddy, wet, or snowy conditions, too.

Overall, Golden Retrievers are equipped to deal with whatever nature throws at them.

Loyal adventure companions

Although not a purpose of webbed feed, these qualities make a Golden Retriever an exceptionally well-equipped adventure companion. Your Golden Retriever will be able to keep up with you as you traverse up a snowy mountain or a rocky pass, and will come in handy if you find yourself in trouble while swimming in a river or lake.

With their intelligence and athletic prowess, it’s easy to see why Golden Retrievers are such a popular dog breed.


Keep Your Golden Retriever Safe In The Water

Webbed feet don’t automatically make your Golden Retriever a natural-born swimmer. To keep your dog safe, it’s important to introduce them to water when they are young in a controlled and safe environment. In doing so, you can train your dog not to fear the water, and you can teach them how to be careful.

There are a few things you can do with your Golden on your first visit to a lake or a pool to make sure they are safe and having fun.

  • The size of the body of water matters. Swimming in a pool and swimming in the ocean are two very different undertakings. Your dog might be overconfident on a rough beach day and get themselves into trouble. You need to look out for your furry friend and make the judgment call yourself on whether or not it is safe for your pup to go for a swim.

  • Start slow. There’s no rush for your Golden to get in the water. Especially if they are a rescue, it could take them some time to get over the fear of a new sensation to adjust to it. If you have a nervous dog, it might be best to start in a small kiddie pool in your yard to let them get comfortable in the water on their terms. Then you can safely level up as they get more adventurous.

  • Never let them swim alone. You should always be prepared to jump in after your pup if something goes wrong when they’re swimming. If you aren’t confident in your abilities to rescue your dog if they need it, you might consider investing in a life jacket for them – just to be safe.


What Other Dog Breeds Have Webbed Paws?

There are plenty of other dog breeds that also have webbed feet. Some have them to provide stability when running or walking, while others are built specifically for swimming and catching prey in the water.

In each case, their webbed paws provide an advantage in the water, which makes them strong swimmers and useful hunting dogs built for adventure.

Some breeds with webbed feet are:

  • Newfoundland

  • Portuguese Water Dog

  • Otterhound

  • German Shorthaired Pointer

  • Dachshund

  • Labrador Retriever

  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever

  • Irish Water Spaniel


Taking Care of Your Golden Retriever’s Webbed Feet

To make sure your Golden Retriever stays happy and healthy, it’s important to take care of their paws properly. Like all dogs, their paws, nails, and paw pads are important parts of their overall health and well-being.

Taking care of your dog’s webbed feet

As mentioned above, your dog’s paws are essential for its ability to run, hunt, and be an assistance dog. It’s important to take care of your dog’s paw so that he or she can thrive.

When grooming your pooch, be sure to spread their toes and examine the skin between them. Because they have webbed feet, the skin there can sometimes get caught on something and tear. It’s important to clean those wounds before they get worse.

In general, it’s important to clean in between your dog’s toes often. This prevents any infections and keeps your dog’s paws healthy.

Caring for your dog’s nails

Your dog’s nails, combined with their webbed feet, help them grip the uneven ground and run around with strength and agility. If their nails are too long, however, they run the risk of losing their utility.

Every so often, it is important to clip your dog’s nails to ensure they are not causing harm or pain. While your dog’s nails will wear down naturally as he or she exercises and runs around, you will have to clip them yourself from time to time.



Are webbed feet hereditary in dogs?

Webbed feet are hereditary, which is why dogs of the same breed have puppies with webbed feet if the parents have webbed feet as well.

Webbing is caused by a genetic mutation but has been selectively bred as a favorable trait in many breeds.

Do Goldendoodles have webbed feet?

Goldendoodles are the offspring of Golden Retrievers and Poodles. These designer dogs have inherited their webbed feet from both their Golden Retriever and Poodle parents and as such are incredibly strong swimmers.



Golden Retrievers are some of the most popular dogs in the world. Now that it is clear that they do have webbed feet that serve a specific purpose, it is even more clear why they make such a unique and well-equipped pet.

This characteristic is what makes them so good at swimming, helps them retrieve games for their owners, and makes them exceptional search and rescue dogs. If you’re considering a Golden Retriever as a family pet or adventure buddy, be sure to check for webbed feet! And for any other dog-related questions and info, make sure to check out our homepage.