Considering the profound history of the Portuguese Water Dog (PWD) as a fisherman’s aid, he does have broad, webbed feet– a physical characteristic that enables him to paddle through the water in a graceful, effortless manner.
PWD dogs are excellent swimmers. Their past work includes delivering messages from one ship to another, drawing fishes into the fishermen’s cast-out nets, or retrieving fallen fishing gear.
As dogs were bred and developed, they also have had certain parts of them evolve for a purpose. The strange webby feet of the PWD are nothing but interesting and we’ll get to know more about this feature below.
What Do Webbed Feet Look Like?
Webbed feet in dogs are described to have a thin membrane between each toe. It helps if you look closely at a duck’s feet, though a Portie’s webbed feet version is non-extreme in comparison.
It’s certainly odd-looking the first time you see it in an actual Portie’s foot, but it’s actually common in several breeds. The reason why it’s not a typical sight is that you won’t straight away notice the webbing until you spread your Portie’s toes.
When you expand or press a PWD’s paw pad on the center, the intriguing excess skin appears, but after releasing it, the toe will look somehow normal again. To add more, all dogs are born with webbed feet, but only a few will retain them including the PWD breed thanks to selective breeding.
Why Do Portuguese Water Dogs Have Webbed Feet?
The Portuguese Water Dog has spent a good chunk of his life in the sea, particularly on Portugal’s coast, and in order to keep up with the lifestyle that he has with the fishermen, having webbed feet is a necessary physical feature that would provide extra help for him in swimming.
With such a desirable feature, a Portie can stay out and about in the sea longer than an unwebbed dog breed. Paddling won’t cause immediate exhaustion for the Portie in contrast to a dog who has separate toes.
Diving for the gear that gets dropped off the boat becomes seamless and quick to accomplish. The webbed feet of the Portie can be likened to swim fins which humans use as a support in creating movements in the water.
The webbing sure is an advantageous trait for Porties who have tasks to do and it’s not going to be much of a problem if it’s not utilized at all.
Is a Portuguese Water Dog Prone to Feet Injuries?
Feet injuries can happen to any dog breed no matter if their feet are webbed or not. The Portie is only going to be prone to mild to serious traumas if he’s not regularly physically checked.
This dog is active and his environment can say a lot about the potential happenings he’ll be subjected to. If he’s constantly brought to the sea to retrieve sinking objects that go under and his feet get scraped after touching sharp corals, what the owner does next is crucial for his feet.
In short, preserving the good condition of a PWD’s feet is achieved only when there are check-ups made right away. A Portie’s foot is not immune to bruises and lesions, after all.
To avoid these possibilities, owners have to ensure that their dog does not get to step on sharp objects or extremely hot or cold grounds.
Can Webbed Feet Cause Health Issues to a Portuguese Water Dog?
So far, science remains silent in regard to this issue which stirs up a debate among dog lovers. There are instances wherein owners would notice their pets limping and they would associate it with the webbed feet. However, this assumption is yet to be proven or disproved.
Most Portuguese Water Dogs live a healthy life with little to no issues in their feet areas. That is unless they are predisposed to certain ailments that would primarily affect their toes. For the most part, limping or the lack of motivation to walk can be due to old age.
Senior dogs like the Portie would often prefer to rest and lay on their dog bed to preserve the little energy they have. Another probability is that something might be disturbing the comfort of your dog’s toes. Check for any stone that might have gotten stuck in between or if there are any wounds present.
Since things are still yet to be studied, it is best to either give your Portie a rest if he does not walk properly or have him get checked by the vet.
Is the Portuguese Water Dog Always Safe Being in the Water?
It’s a common misconception that a Portie being bred to become a fisherman’s aid will always know how to watch out for himself when he’s in the water. Like any other dog, the Portie needs supervision as anything can happen in the sea, river, or even at your home pool area.
A PWD dog may show his excellent swimming skills in the pool, but even the most confident swimmer will end up feeling daunted about the idea of showing off in the sea. Always check that the water he’s in is, in fact, safe.
Moreover, make sure your dog gets to have breaks in between. His levels of energy have a limit and resting will refuel what he lost. Making him stay too long in the water can be dangerous, especially if the dog is still a puppy.
To remove all the worries, putting a life jacket or vest on your dog would be a great idea. This eliminates any potential accidents like drowning, especially if there’s a possibility of a strong current occurring as long as the gear has been put on properly.
How to Properly Clean Your Portuguese Water Dog’s Feet
Taking good care of your Portie’s feet is much the same as how you would do it with other dogs regardless of their foot type. The tools you use should be of high quality and appropriate for the size of the PWD breed.
The recommended tool to ensure a smooth, positive experience is the Yabife Grooming Set. Everything your dog needs is provided from nail clippers to grinders– a real delight for owners who want to get their money’s worth.
In starting up the grooming session, which must happen regularly for the Portie, inspect his toes first for any signs of concern. Gently press on his soft paw pads to reveal how his webbing looks in condition. If there’s dried mud in between, use a clean, soft, and damp towel and wipe off the residue.
Once you start utilizing the grooming tools, be extra careful when doing so. The goal is not to finish the session quickly but rather to create a positive experience for your dog. Porties, when used to getting their nails clipped as puppies, will usually show a calm and behaved manner the entire time.
If you are not sure how to do this, resort to bringing your dog to a professional groomer. You can also watch video tutorials on Youtube before you embark on this procedure.