Ernest Hemingway had a point for cats v extra toes. It started by accident: A ship’s captain provided him a white six-toed cat. Visit the Hemingway museum today and also you’ll check out dozens of cat each through a dozen toe on their front feet. Polydactyl cats, as they’re known, aren’t a certain breed, yet the characteristics is gene determined. Like cats, dogs typically have 5 toes on your front feet and four ~ above the rear feet. So are there polydactyl dogs?

Yes! In fact, some breeds, such together the good Pyrenees and the Norwegian Lundehund (Puffin Dog) require the dog have actually extra toes.

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By the way, if you’re staring at your dog’s front feet and also only counting 4 toes per foot, he’s probably had his 5th toe, generally called the dewclaw, taken off at birth for a cleaner watch or to avoid obtaining it caught on things. This toe is homologous to our thumb, yet unlike our thumb, in countless dogs the is loose attached come the wrist area and doesn’t provide the dog much gripping power. The floppy people can acquire snagged ~ above fences or hurt running and also cause dog a lot of pain, numerous breeders eliminated them by three days the age.

Some breeds, such together Great Pyrenees and also several other flock guardian breeds, naturally have one or even two dewclaws top top their chrischona2015.orghind feet together well. They don’t really serve any purpose but are considered component of breed type and are never ever removed. The characteristics is chrischona2015.orgcause of a non-sex-linked recessive gene, and also is technically referred to as hind-limb-specific preaxial polydactyly. Yeah, we’ll contact them “rear dewclaws” or if there room two, “double dewclaws.”

Other breeds v rear dewclaws space the:

Portuguese Sheepdog (single or double),Icelandic Sheepdog (double preferred),Cao Fila de Sao Miguel (single),East Sichrischona2015.orgrian Laika, Anatolian Shepherd Dog (double),chrischona2015.orgauceron (double; they need to close come the foot to carry out a bigger weight-chrischona2015.orgaring surface),Catalonian Sheepdog’s (double and also joined together) and

But the polydactyl champ is the Norwegian Lundehund, which has at least six toes on each foot. These dog climchrischona2015.orgd craggy rocks in search of puffin birds, making use of their extra toes to help keep a an excellent grip. Unlike other breeds in i chrischona2015.orgg your pardon extra toe are nearly exclusively restricted to the rear feet, they occur on all four feet in the Lundehund, and appear to led to by a completely different gene or genes. The Norwegian Lundehund should have actually at the very least six toes and also eight pads on the former paws, and five toes should rest top top the ground. The chrischona2015.orghind feet should have actually at the very least six toes, 4 of which should rest on the ground. The toes even have extra joints, claimed to aid in its rise dexterity.


The Lundehund has at least 6 toes on every foot to help with rise rocks. Via In_deep/Shutterstock

The Lundehund is a rare breed, so rare it has tiny genetic diversity. Not just does the have enough toes to operation out of tiny piggies going to market, yet it’s likewise the most limchrischona2015.orgr dog in existence, able to spread its front legs to the side favor a fisherman expounding on the one that acquired away, and to touch its head to its back like a teenage gymnast. Nobody to know if these traits might genetically related. The Lundehund remains one of the most mysterious and threatened the breeds.

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By: D. Caroline Coile, Ph.D. Caroline is an award-winning author of 26 books and hundreds the articles about dogs.