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Do Border Collies Have Webbed Feet? The Interesting Answer

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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Athletic, well-built, and ready to take on hard work, Border Collies are wonderful guard dogs. They’re also highly affectionate, protective of their families, and energetic. To keep a Border happy, you will have to play, train, or exercise with it for 2–3 hours per day. Agility, intelligence, and loyalty are this breed’s trademark traits. And let’s not forget about the webbing between their toes!

That’s right; while Border Collies don’t have webbed paws, there is, indeed, webbing in between their pads! What should a Border Collie owner know about their pet’s paws? Let’s find out!

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A Quick Breakdown on Webbed Feet in Dogs

From an evolutionary point of view, webbing is nothing extraordinary. Many living creatures that inhabit the Earth have skin between their fingers or toes. We humans also have that, although our skin is much shorter compared to other mammals. The biological term for webbing is “interdigital membrane” or “syndactyly”. Semi-aquatic birds like geese, ducks, and swans have the largest paddles.

So, what is webbing? Is it membrane, tendons, or skin? It depends on the species, and sometimes, it’s a combination of all three. The shape and the size differ as well; the larger the webbing, the wider the surface area for the feet is going to be. As for dogs, most breeds have webbing. However, only dogs that were bred for swimming have true webbed feet.

So, Are Border Collies Feet Webbed, Or Not?

If we get scientific about it, the answer is no, these dogs don’t have webbed feet because they’re work dogs, not swimmers. This is why they’re never mentioned as a webbed-foot breed. That said, Border Collies do have minimal webbing that attaches the toes to each other. It’s something that all Border pups are born with. And, to answer your question, no, webbing is not a bad thing.

On the contrary: this gives them an advantage over fellow breeds. First, the skin between the toes helps these dogs run faster. It also aids in maintaining balance, especially when walking on slippery or soft surfaces like snow. Plus, similar to flippers on fish, webbed feet turn Borders into excellent swimmers. So, yes, webbing is a win-win for Border Collies!

puppy Border Collie gives paw
Image Credit: Ann Tyurina, Shutterstock

Does This Require Special Treatment?

No, you won’t have to take extra care of the dog because of the membrane. As mentioned, webbing is natural for most dogs, not a health condition. Some breeds have more, while others have less. As long as you bathe the Border Collie regularly and keep the nails trimmed (we’ll cover that in a moment), the dog will be in tip-top shape.

Which Dog Breeds Have Webbed Feet?

There aren’t that many breeds with true webbed feet—only a handful. And, even so, not every single dog from these groups will have extensive webbing. It depends on each individual pooch and its genetics. With that, breeders always pick dogs with a specific trait for breeding. Therefore, the chances of a dog from one of the following breeds having webbed feet are very high:

Otterhound standing in field with paws on fence_Lourdes Photography_shutterstock (2)
Credit: Lourdes Photography, Shutterstock

Divider 2The 5 Border Collie Health Issues and Remedies

Brought up by our ancestors to serve as working dogs in harsh conditions, Borders are a rough, tough, and hardy breed. Thanks to their strong bone structure and mighty muscles, they can handle most tasks you throw their way. You’ll still need to keep an eye on your four-legged bud and know about common medical issues and how to tackle them, of course.

Here’s what Border Collies are susceptible to:

1. Hip Dysplasia

The most common medical problem Border Collies face is hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a condition that develops when the ball of the hip joint does not correctly fit into its socket. This results in the rubbing of the two bones (the pelvis and femur), leading to inflammation and pain. Left unchecked, this may eventually result in arthritis. Border Collies may have a genetic predisposition to this condition. Routine orthopedic exams and screening will reveal what condition the joints are in and how much stress they can take.

If you’re lucky enough to learn about dysplasia at an early stage, it can be fixed via surgery. In the worst-case scenario, hip replacement might be your only option. Regardless, talk to a vet. They’ll help come up with the right diet, medication, and supplements to keep the Border healthy and take the pain away.

2. Epilepsy

Border Collies may suffer from epileptic seizures that usually start when the dogs are 2–5 years old. Thankfully, there are enough anti-seizure meds on the market. They’re rather effective at keeping the situation under control. The issue might not be cured completely, but you will be able to make the pet’s life easier. Now, idiopathic epilepsy isn’t yet fully studied, and veterinarians don’t really know what’s causing it.

Border Collies aren’t the only breed predisposed to this medical condition. But the seizures happen without any warnings and make the poor pouch fall on its side.

a border collie dog looking sick covered with blanket on couch
Image Credit: Lindsay Helms, Shutterstock

3. Collie Eye Disease

This is a congenital disorder, and depending on how severe it is, it can either cause minor visual defects or make the dog go blind. In most cases, the owners learn of this birth defect when the dog is just 1–2 months old. There aren’t many treatments for this disease, so it falls to the breeders to take preventive measures to battle it.

4. Gene Mutations

MDR1 is another birth defect. This is a potentially life-threatening gene mutation, and if your dog has it, common veterinary medications can adversely affect them, as they are more sensitive to them. The good news is a simple veterinary test will reveal whether your dog has it, or not. If the answer is yes (the dog is suffering from a multidrug resistance mutation), the vet will tell you which meds will be safe to use.

That’s not the only genetic mutation in Border Collies, though. Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (CL) can also make the dog go blind, cause seizures like idiopathic epilepsy and even alter the pet’s mood. The signs or side effects start showing when the dog is 1.5–2 years old. When left untreated, CL can have a huge negative effect on the Border’s life expectancy. Again, it’s up to the breeders to detect it.

sick border collie dog at the vet clinic
Image Credit: antoniodiaz, Shutterstock

5. Immune System Issues

TNS (Trapped neutrophil syndrome) is a condition that targets your pup’s immune system. As a result, the dog often succumbs to chronic infections. Border Collies have a genetic predisposition to this mutation. It strikes them at birth, making the pooch smaller and slower to grow compared to the rest of the litter. This is a fatal condition, one that doesn’t have a cure. While you can increase your pet’s lifespan with medications, responsible breeding is the best prevention for this condition.

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Border Collies are not officially recognized as a breed with webbed feet. But their toes are connected via a thin layer of skin. And the perks include a stronger grip, faster running and swimming, and better digging. As a herding dog bred to protect livestock, the Border Collie greatly benefits from this feature.

And the best part is—you won’t have to do anything about it. The webbing requires no special skin care, expensive medication, or treatments. For other health issues of concern, it is advised to have regular checkups with your veterinarian to ensure your dog is healthy and well cared for.

Featured Image Credit: Julia Zavalishina, Shutterstock

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