We’re used to ducks having webbed feet, but how about dogs? Yep, it’s a thing. Much like their fellow web-footed birds, they use this physical characteristic for swimming. This was a common trait in dogs used for hunting purposes. Whether dogs were saving people from drowning, retrieving ducks, tramping through snowy terrain, or trekking through marshes and swamps—their webbed feet helped them properly navigate.
These dogs each have interesting personalities and unique talents that have helped them grow in popularity over passing years. Some of these breeds are more commonly seen these days lounging around the house, but that doesn’t take away from their natural skills.
1. Labrador Retriever
Labradors began and are still excellent hunting companions. They would help their humans in the woods to retrieve waterfowl and other small game once the hunter had taken the shot. For this reason, Labs are highly agile and energetic. They require an adequate amount of physical and mental stimulation and do best when they are given a job to do.
Because of their amicable personalities and eagerness to please, Labrador Retrievers excel in many other areas as well. They make terrific therapy and service dogs. You may see them assisting the blind, those who have diabetes, or disabled children. They have come a long way when it comes to using their webbed feet for swimming and snow-trotting. But this is still a unique feature that makes them even more interesting.
View this post on Instagram
This is my favorite picture because I look enormous and my big sis looks tiny. #newfoundland #landseernewfoundland #landseer #newfiepuppy • • • #newfiesofinstagram #twodogs #bigdogsofinstagram #largebreed #dogsofinstagram #dogs #trickphoto #perspective #floofs #floofynewfs #newfoundlanddog #landseersofinstagram #largebreeddogs #largebreed #largebreedpuppy #cutedogs #dogyawning #blep #newfs #twobigdogs
These giant-sized brutes are as loveable as they come. Newfies were originally bred in Canada. They would go out on fishing boats with fishermen to aid in human rescue. Their webbed feet assisted in them in propelling through the water, and their double coats insulate them to work in even the most bitter of temperatures.
Newfies are incredibly loving, loyal, and mild-tempered. They carry the well-deserved title of “gentle giant’, living up to it very well. They are very involved in their families. Once you have made one of these dogs part of your pack, you will have a forever friend. They love their humans so much that they can’t bear being left alone for long periods. They very much thrive on attention. Their docile nature and fluffy faces make them impossible to stay away from too long, though. So, they shouldn’t have much to fret over.
3. German Wirehaired Pointer
This breed, like all pointers, hunted small game such as waterfowl to much larger game, like wildcats and boars. Because of their duties, the webbed feet helped them get through muddy terrain and bodies of water during hunts.
In modern-day Germany, these dogs are still used for hunting. So as with many breeds who were built to do a job, they are wired for activity. Wirehaired Pointers are very loyal dogs to their owners but can be destructive if they don’t get enough exercise in their daily lives. They also very much enjoy the outdoors, as it has been engrained in their DNA. So, if you ever add one of these dogs to your family, they may prefer to be outside for the majority of their day.
4. Portuguese Water Dog
These water dogs were given incredibly essential duties back in the day. They would help fishermen gather fish into nets by essentially herding them through the water. They would even deliver correspondence boat to boat if needed.
Because of their fierce independence, reinforcements are important for Portuguese Water Dogs if you keep one as a pet. Not only will they need lots of attention and activity, but they also need to roam and run. Having a fenced-in area is a must, so you don’t find them gallivanting off to fulfill their whims.
5. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
View this post on Instagram
My "once in a Lifetime" ❤ #sunny #toller #novascotiaducktollingretriever #tollerretriever #ducktoller #tollerlover #tollerlady #tollergirl #retriever #retrieversofinstagram #tollersofinstagram #doglife #dog #photographylover #lumix #panasonic #nature #mountains #goodgirl #shootingtime #seedorf #uri #switzerland #swissalps
Much as their name implies, this breed was developed with the intention of hunting ducks, and they excelled. They are sometimes mistaken for golden retrievers due to their similar size and coloring. However, these dogs have more of a copper hue, and they have patches of white on their faces and chest.
Over time, they developed extremely thick double-coats, which are water-resistant. This helps them when swimming through icy cold waters, much like their webbed feet do. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers may have similar tasks and look somewhat like their golden cousins, but their temperaments differ greatly. These dogs are much more inclined to be active and less likely to be so friendly towards those they encounter.
These large dogs recognizable due to their long wiry coats, their webbed feet, and their mass proportions. They have an incredible sense of sense and a knack for extreme swimming. Even when they aren’t elected to play a swimming role, they will love to engage in swimming leisurely.
These dogs aren’t really suitable for apartment living. They have a strong love for the outdoors and would prefer moderate to constant exposure. They would do best on farmland, woodland, or a home with acreage. He will love sniffing around, too. Their sense of smell is comparable to a bloodhound. Because of their friendly nature, Otterhounds don’t make the best guard dogs, but they’ll keep a lookout and let you know if something just doesn’t look right.
7. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
View this post on Instagram
Happy birthday to my one and only Ted! You’re three, and IG wouldn’t let me post a big picture collage so here we are one day late on this post – you’re my protector, service dog, and the best thing I’ve ever done. Love you and your loud rooing #chesapeakebayretriever #tedthree
This breed very much resembles their Labrador cousins. Instead of being the same color scheme, however, these dogs vary between beautiful shades of browns. Their webbed feet help them swim and trudge through the water in search of waterfowl. The breed is meant for hard work, and their energy levels show that this is a must.
Unlike the immensely friendly Labrador retriever, these dogs aren’t quite as social. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers love their families but tend to be on the fence about strangers and other animals. They also have a high prey drive that isn’t suitable for smaller pets. They are energetic and goofy, but they are also incredibly stubborn, making training essential so they can have proper manners.
8. Redbone Coonhound
While this breed wasn’t designated as waterfowl hunters, they do share the webbed feet trait. Instead of swimming lakes or ponds, this was to help them track through swamps, marshes, and other wetlands. They are trained to hunt boar, raccoon, bear, and other similar game. Their sense of smell is extraordinary, making them perfect trackers.
Redbones may look familial and sociable—in this case, that’s because they are. While sometimes looks can be deceiving, that is not the case with them. They love people and are highly affectionate. They are entirely independent and can entertain themselves. However, they need a healthy outlet to release pent up energy.
9. American Water Spaniel
Of course, this breed has webbed feet for swimming. These dogs are highly athletic and agile. They have beautiful, wavy locks and the classic spaniel ears. This water spaniel thrives on physical activity, so they are most suitable for hunting, amongst other outdoor activities.
If they aren’t let out much, they may become destructive or irritable, so they definitely aren’t a proper candidate for apartment or city living. American Water Spaniels are country dogs at heart, wanting wide open spaces and room to run. If they are properly stimulated, they are playful, fun-loving, and happy dogs. All they need is the right environment, and they will thrive.
10. Irish Water Spaniel
View this post on Instagram
I’m smiling… take the picture🤪 #dog #dogsofinstagram #dogs #puppy #dogstagram #instadog #doglover #love #pet #dogoftheday #cute #doglovers #instagram #pets #doglife #puppylove #of #doggo #puppies #puppiesofinstagram #cat #ilovemydog #dogsofinsta #irishwaterspaniel #animals #doggy #petstagram #k #petsofinstagram #bhfyp
Another water dog on our list, if you can tell the pattern, has webbed feet for swimming. They look quite similar to the American Water Spaniel but have heavier coats and longer hair. They are used for hunting, but interestingly, they also retrieve. So, they have a dual-duty.
These dogs are incredibly humorous, known as the clown of the spaniel family. While they have goofy personalities, they take their duties very seriously. You won’t find them horsing around on the job. Irish Water Spaniels can be great family pets, but that is dependent on socialization and training.
11. Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
These medium-sized, rough-coated gundogs are one of the best of their kind. They are incredibly gifted in hunting and have the build and agility to prove it. Their feet are webbed to help them through wetlands or terrain.
Wirehaired Pointing Griffons are highly trainable and responsive, which exceeds hunting duties, making them mannerly at home as well. They have a willingness to please their masters, and they have a desire to do things well. Even if they are a bit hard-headed, their sense of compliance outweighs their self-serving attitude. They love their families. While they can be a tiny bit high-strung, particularly in the puppy years, they mellow out nicely with age.
These beautiful bluish-gray dogs hold the nickname “Silver Ghost”. Designated for the task of hunting big game in Germany, they thrived—as when tracking boar and deer. These dogs tend to be quite serious, holding their takes to the highest regard. They are agile and capable, able to being quietly swift on their feet.
The downside to Weimaraners is that they are incredibly willful, making them stubborn and challenging to teach manners. If proper training and socialization are lacking, the dog will assume their role as their own master and do whatever strikes their fancy. A firm hand is necessary to keep these beautiful dogs in line. If this takes place, they can make terrific family pets and loyal companions.
When it comes to web-footed dogs, you may find it hard to keep up. These dogs are infamous for agility, speed, and action. Each of them was given important tasks and duties to fulfill, which they are capable of doing flawlessly. It’s truly amazing what talented actions our canine friends are proficient in. While many of these dogs now have companion lifestyles rather than working duties, it is always fun to remember where the breed planted its roots.
Featured Image Credit: Alicja, Flickr
Emily started this blog out of pure passion. She LOVES her 3 dogs; Chew Barka, Cooper & Nelson, and spends countless hours every day playing with them.
When she’s not nerding out on dogs, you’ll find her on a snowboard or in the kitchen baking chocolate brownies.
She’s been featured in PetAware, Dogtime, and ModernDog.