Since Border Collies always seem to keep their feet moving under water, it can be hard to tell just what they’re working with. So, if you want to answer the nagging question of, “Do Border Collies have webbed feet,” you’re going to have to find a way to get a closer look — or simply read this guide.
Do Border Collies have webbed feet? Border Collies have minimal webbing between each of their toes. With that extra bit of skin connecting each of their toes, they can better maintain steady footing on mud and other soft surfaces. They do not have nearly as much webbing as the Labrador retriever or other water dogs, however.
In this article, we’ll explore just what webbed feet are — and how Border Collies benefit from this unique trait. By the end, you’ll be much closer to understanding everything there is to know about these incredible dogs.
The Experience With My Dogs
Before I fell in love with BCs, I was the owner of Labrador Retrievers. And, let me tell you, they have the most impressive webbed feet. BCs are not far off, however, and it shows in everything they do. As my BCs Nyxie and Bandit run and play, I get to see firsthand just how steady these dogs are on their feet. All that webbing helps them turn on a dime and stay planted on the slipperiest of surfaces. It’s truly a sight to behold.
What is Webbing?
Webbing is the small bit of extra skin spanning between each of your dogs’ toes.
On water dogs, the webbing goes all the way to the tip of their toes to help them paddle through the water fast. When asking if a dog has webbed feet, this is usually what people are envisioning.
Border Collies only have webbing halfway up the length of their toes, which is not typically referred to as having webbed feet. In fact, the majority of dog breeds have just as much webbing as BCs do.
Although it’s not as pronounced, their small bit of webbing makes a big difference in BC’s everyday lives.
This is especially true for the dogs that spend their days working the fields or fetching ball after ball, like my dogs, Nyxie, Ruby, and Bandit.
Benefits of Having Webbed Paws
When looking for a Border Collie pup, it’s not uncommon for people to compliment how tight the feet look. The reason being is that splayed toes are simply not beneficial to these working dogs.
Swim efficiently and fast
With webbing holding their toes tightly together, Border Collies can maintain steady footing much easier. This is especially true while running across wet, muddy, or icy surfaces.
True webbed feet are even more beneficial for dogs who spend a lot of time in the water. The webbing acts as a paddle of sorts, letting dogs propel themselves further with each stroke.
Webbing helps them get to downed birds and other targets as fast as possible. In addition, as they efficiently swim from place to place, they expend a lot less energy overall.
Dig more efficiently too
Although dog owners might not be a huge fan, webbed paws also help dogs dig much more efficiently. They can scoop the dirt out of the hole much faster than you can respond.
Even though Bandit only has some webbing on his feet, he can dig a foot into the ground at the blink of an eye.
All my Labradors were even faster, however, leaving me with quite a mess to clean up. If your dog is a digger, we recommend buying them specific toys to distract them from this destructive behavior.
Which Dog Breeds Have Webbed Paws?
In understanding do Border Collies have webbed paws, it becomes quite clear that not many dogs do.
Beyond Labrador Retrievers, only a handful of dog breeds have 100% webbed paws, such as:
- Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
- Portuguese Water Dog
- German Wirehaired Pointer
- Chesapeake Bay Retriever
- Irish Water Spaniel.
Take a look at Bilbo the Newfoundland who is a Lifeguard dog obsessed with saving people, putting his confident swimming abilities and his webbed feet towards a great cause.
If these dogs with webbed feet were bred to move through the water or across muddy surfaces, then webbing is more likely than not.
Of course, mixed-breed dogs often have webbed feet if any of their ancestors came from lines with this trait. So, if you’re unsure of your BC’s lineage and notice their feet are completely webbed, then it’s likely there’s some water dog lurking in their bloodlines.
Why Do Some Dogs Have More Prominent Webbed Feet Than Others?
When dogs have traits that help them do their jobs better, you can trace the origin back to selective breeding.
As early breeders noticed characteristics that helped boost their dogs’ performance, they selected their breeding stock for those traits. With that move, the traits get stronger with each generation and become an accepted part of the breed.
My Border Collies Nyxie and Bandit both come from strong working lines. All the way back through the generations are working dogs that excelled on the job and were selected for the breeding program due to their innate abilities. These dogs passed down their keen eye, intense focus, and even the webbing between their toes.
When it comes to dogs with true webbed feet, the same thing happens. Breeders pick the dogs that can swim the fastest without tiring out. Then, those dogs pass their performance-enhancing traits through the bloodlines.
Are Border Collies at a Disadvantage Not Having Webbed Feet?
Do Border Collies have webbed toes? Technically, no, but Border Collies do have exactly the right amount of webbing between their toes for all their daily activities.
Their tight feet are perfect for running fast, changing direction on the fly, and stopping with the quickness.
They are also adept at navigating tough terrain, like trails with lots of rocks and loose dirt. That’s why Border Collies make great hiking companions.
And, as I said before, BCs are super great at digging holes. Too good, in fact. My backyard is a testament to their proficiency in that realm!
Even without true webbed feet, they can still swim well enough to have a blast in the water and even compete in dock diving events. As Speed Retrieve dock diving events become more popular, it’s likely that Border Collies won’t end up ruling the leader boards. Sport-focused breeders could then start to select for more webbing, though it’s not likely. If they do, then their bloodlines could start to develop more webbing and gain speed in the water. It would take countless generations to produce reliable results, however.
If you would like to read more about dock diving, read our introductory article. In this article, we discuss the different categories of competition, including Speed Retrieve.
Overall, Border Collies are absolutely perfect just the way they are —and no, Bandit and Nyxie did not force me to say that! They are endlessly athletic, smart as a whip, and driven to please their owners with cute tricks, cuddles, and lots of fun. While they may not have true webbed feet, they still have the ability to zoom across the land with ease and look downright graceful doing it.
Want more information about Border Collies?
- Border Collies and their energy levels: how to handle them
- How to B.C.’s show affection
- Try Skijoring with your Border Collie
- Crate training a Border Collie: what you need to know
- Aussies vs Border Collie breed battle
- Husky paired with a Border Collie: the perfect match
- Are Border Collies good for hiking?