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Does a Bernese Mountain Dog Have Webbed Feet? Breed Characteristics

Written by: Kristin Hitchcock

Last Updated on May 20, 2024 by Dogster Team

human hand holding bernese mountain dogs paw

Does a Bernese Mountain Dog Have Webbed Feet? Breed Characteristics

Bernese Mountain Dogs don’t have true webbed feet. Webbed feet are a characteristic commonly found in dog breeds developed for water-based activities, such as retrieving waterfowl or fish. For instance, Labrador Retrievers have webbed feet, as they were bred to retrieve game in water.

These dogs were originally bred as working dogs for herding livestock and pulling carts rather than for swimming or water-based activities. Therefore, they do not need webbed feet. However, their large paws are well-suited for walking on rough terrain and provide good traction on slippery surfaces.

That said, Bernese Mountain Dogs have some webbing between their toes. While it is not common for Bernese Mountain Dogs to have webbed feet, some individuals within the breed can have slightly webbed toes. However, webbed feet in Bernese Mountain Dogs are not a breed standard nor considered a necessary trait.

Therefore, while the odd Bernese Mountain Dog may have some webbing, it isn’t particularly common and nothing like Labrador Retrievers and similar breeds often have.

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Do Bernese Mountain Dogs Like to Swim?

Bernese Mountain dogs weren’t bred for swimming. However, that doesn’t mean some don’t like swimming. The breed does matter whether a dog likes swimming or not, but how the dog is raised tends to be more important. If a dog is brought up around lots of water, they may like swimming by the time they are adults.

That said, Bernese Mountain Dogs are not known for their love of swimming. While some individual dogs may enjoy swimming and playing in the water, as a breed, Bernese Mountain Dogs are not typically strong swimmers or naturally drawn to water-based activities.

The breed was developed as a working dog for herding and pulling carts in the mountainous regions of Switzerland. These dogs have heavy, dense coats, which are important when working in upper elevations. However, their coat can become waterlogged and heavy, making it more difficult for them to swim. Additionally, their large size and heavy build can make swimming more challenging and tiring for them.

As with any individual dog, some Bernese Mountain Dogs may enjoy swimming or water-based activities, especially if they are introduced to it at a young age and trained correctly. If you want your dog to like water, you must get them around it often. This is true even for dogs that naturally like swimming. Early introduction, slowly and carefully, is vital for a dog that likes to swim.

cute bernese mountain dog swimming in a lake
Image Credit: JeDo_Foto, Shutterstock

Which Breeds of Dog Have Webbed Feet?

Many breeds of dogs have webbed feet. Most of these were bred for swimming, so webbed feet were prized. Therefore, breeders bred the trait into the breed by selecting dogs with webbed feet for breeding purposes. Over time, many dogs in the breed had webbed feet.

However, it is important to note that not all individuals within these breeds will have webbed feet. Having webbed feet is not always a defining characteristic of these breeds. Sometimes, it is found in the breed standard, which encourages breeders to breed more dogs with webbed feet. Other times, it just happens to be something common in the breed without necessarily being enshrined in the breed standard:

Why Do Some Dogs Have Webbed Feet, But Not the Bernese Mountain Dog?

Some dog breeds have webbed feet due to their evolutionary history and breeding for water-based purposes. Webbed feet provide several advantages for dogs in the water, so they occur most often in dogs bred for water-based activities such as retrieving waterfowl or fish.

The webbing between a dog’s toes helps to increase the surface area of their paws, allowing them to push more water with each stroke and swim more efficiently. Webbed feet also help dogs maintain balance and stability in the water and navigate through currents and waves.

Some dog breeds with webbed feet, such as the Newfoundland, were also bred for water rescue, and their webbed feet help them to perform their jobs more effectively.

Bernese Mountain dogs were not bred for working in water. Instead, they were originally developed in Switzerland as working dogs for herding livestock and pulling carts rather than for water-based activities such as swimming or retrieving. Therefore, they do not have webbed feet as it is not a physical adaptation that would be necessary or useful for their original purpose.

PK_Webbed feet in dogs
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Conclusion

While it is not common for Bernese Mountain Dogs to have webbed feet, some dogs within the breed may have slightly webbed toes. However, webbed feet are not in the breed standard for Bernese Mountain Dogs and are not considered necessary.

They were developed as working dogs for herding and pulling carts in the mountainous regions of Switzerland rather than for water-based activities such as swimming or retrieving. Their heavy, dense coat and large size can make swimming more challenging for them.

It is important to note that the presence of slightly webbed toes in some of these dogs does not necessarily mean that they are better swimmers. You should always watch your dog carefully when they are in the water, especially because the Bernese Mountain Dog isn’t a great swimmer. If you want your dog to like the water, introduce them at an early age and train them to swim correctly.


Featured Image Credit: Vad-Len, Shutterstock

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