Golden Retrievers are friendly, intelligent, and devoted dogs and are one of America’s most popular dog breeds.
They are a dog for all occasions, excelling in hunting, at being guide dogs, in search-and-rescue, and in competitive and obedience events.
As with all animals, golden Retrievers have certain characteristics that help them excel in their various activities.
So, do golden Retrievers have webbed feet? Yes, they do! The dog breed has a natural love for being in the water and is known for retrieving game like ducks from water. Their webbed feet allow them to do these things and more.
It is believed that golden Retrievers are the result of breeding between Labrador Retrievers (who also have webbed feet) and water spaniels in Scotland. It is no surprise that they are made for treading water!
Do Golden Retrievers Have Webbed Feet?
Yes, Golden Retrievers have webbed feet, but they are not like the webbed feet you are used to seeing on ducks. A Golden Retriever’s paws only have partial webbing. The “webbing” on the dog’s feet is the extra skin that is between its toes. The skin connects all of the toes together to create a webbed foot when the dog is in water.
Golden Retrievers are not the only dogs that have webbed feet. Other dog breeds that have webbed feet are Newfoundlands, German Shorthaired Pointers, Dachshunds, and Portuguese water dogs, among others. The biggest question surrounding why some dog breeds have webbed feet is – why?
Why do some dogs have webbed feet while others do not? It simply boils down to evolution and breeding. In the case of the Golden Retriever, both of the dog breeds that were bred together to create this breed had webbed feet. Therefore, the breed has had webbed feet since its creation.
What are a Golden Retriever’s Webbed Feet Good For?
Webbed feet on a dog is an adaptation that has arisen in order to allow dogs to tread water easily. Since the Golden Retriever is lucky enough to have webbed paws, it can do the following:
- Retrieve game that has been killed and is in water or water-logged land
- Help rescue people that are drowning or trapped in water
The webbed feet are not only great for being able to swim through water, but they also allow the Golden Retriever to be able to adapt to and navigate different terrains with its feet while hunting and retrieving.
The webbing allows for dogs to glide on the top of water and paddle for longer distances, which are both important in preventing the dog itself from drowning.
How Breeding Created the Golden Retriever
In the 1800s, Sir Dudley Majoribanks of Scotland, who was later known as Lord Tweedmouth, began to breed different dogs together in order to perfect a certain kind of dog that he wanted. He was aiming for “a talented Retriever with a superb nose who would be more attentive to his human hunting companion than the setters and spaniels used at the time for retrieving.”
Additionally, Lord Tweedmouth wanted this new dog breed to be loyal and even-tempered in the home. Labrador Retrievers were bred with numerous water spaniels, including the now-extinct Tweed water spaniel.
Tweedmouth ended up keeping mostly yellow puppies to continue his breeding and the dog breed that resulted became officially recognized as the “Retriever – Yellow or Golden” in 1911.
In 1920, the breed’s name was changed to the Golden Retriever, and they became recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1932. Today, they are the second most popular dog breed in America!
What Do Golden Retrievers Do?
Traditionally, retrievers are a type of gun dog that is bred to retrieve specific games for their hunters. Generally, gun dogs, sometimes called bird dogs, are dogs that are bred to assist hunters in finding and gathering the game they have killed.
Retrievers are specifically bred for gathering birds and other prey and returning them to their hunter companion with no damage done to the game.
Because they are bred to not damage the prey they collect, some of their characteristics are that they have soft mouths and an innate willingness to please, learn, and obey.
However, just because Retrievers are bred as hunting dogs doesn’t mean that they are only hunting dogs. In fact, some of the characteristics that have been bred into them make them great for other jobs as well.
Some other jobs that Golden Retrievers are great for because of their breeding include:
- They excel at tracking because of their sharp noses.
- They are often used in law enforcement for sniffing out contraband because of their sharp noses.
- They are great therapy and assistance dogs because of their obedience and loyalty.
- They excel at agility and competitive obedience in dog sporting events.
- They can be search-and-rescue dogs because of their sharp noses and webbed feet (for water rescues).
One job that Golden Retrievers are not good at is being a guard dog – they are very trusting with a gentle disposition. Their kind and friendly temperament are one of the hallmarks of the breed.
They make amazing family pets and are very good with children. Furthermore, Goldens are not typically timid or nervous, they are rather confident, calm, and collected dogs.
Water Safety for Golden Retrievers
While Golden retrievers are definitely dogs that are comfortable in the water, there are still safety measures you should take when bringing your Golden around water.
Some safety considerations you should have when bringing your dog around water are:
– Golden retrievers should not drink salt water. Bring your dog’s water bowl with you when you go to the beach or even when you’re at the pool and supply fresh water for it to drink. Typically, what is unsafe for humans to consume is also unsafe for dogs to consume.
– Goldens may not automatically know how to swim in the ocean. Yes, they have webbed feet and are great swimmers, but ocean water has currents that they are not used to. It is recommended to invest in a life jacket for your dog.
– Dogs need sunscreen, too! Get a sunscreen that is specially made for dogs with an SPF of at least 30. Make sure to apply it all over your dog – even its ears and nose.
– Your Golden retriever can easily exert itself at the beach or around the pool. Make sure that your dog is resting in between playing to prevent overexertion.
– Make sure that your dog does not eat the sand or anything else it may find on the beach. Sand, shellfish, stones, and more can cause gastrointestinal issues and injuries in your Golden.
– If your dog is enjoying a swim in a pool, make sure you show it where the stairs are, so it can get out when it becomes tired.
It is clear that, just because Goldens are great swimmers, they aren’t necessarily great swimmers in every single body or type of water. It is important to remember that Golden retrievers swim in inland freshwaters to retrieve the game. Any other water type will require special care and attention to ensure the safety of your pet.
Golden Retrievers have been one of America’s favorite dogs for years, being featured in movies and even living in the White House!
These active but obedient dogs make great companions for law enforcement, people with disabilities, and children. Because they are so easy to get along with, you don’t have to worry about them having issues with other animals, either.
The webbed feet of a Golden Retriever is just one characteristic that makes them such a versatile and amazing dog. Whether they are rescuing people from flooding or fetching games for their hunter companion, these dogs are truly incredible.