Do Rottweilers have webbed feet?

Do Rottweilers have webbed feet?

The Rottweiler is an old and much loved breed with a long history of human companionship dating back to Roman times. Still a fan favourite to this day, the Rottie makes an exceptional pet dog for those looking for a pup with guardian and protector-like qualities. 

Oddly enough, this beautiful and noble dog attracts a lot of intrigue. And some of this may actually be for good reason. Over the years, the dog has developed some very odd quirks, such as their hilarious happy growling, commonly known as the Rottie grumble. But another odd question that seems to come up a lot is “do Rottweilers have webbed feet”? 

TLDR;

  1. Rottweilers do not have webbed feet. Their feet are well-defined and arched, with thick protective pads for gripping tough terrains, likely a trait from their history as farm and livestock guardian dogs.
  2. Some Rottweilers might have slightly webbed toes due to potential crossbreeding with water dog breeds. This doesn’t hinder them from swimming, though they may not swim as efficiently as breeds specifically adapted for water.
  3. Despite lacking webbed feet, Rottweilers can swim reasonably well due to their broad chest, powerful hind legs and shoulders, and thick, short coat that aids in buoyancy, propulsion, and maintaining warmth.
  4. To encourage swimming in your Rottweiler, introduce them to water early, in shallow, calm environments. Use positive reinforcement and allow them to explore at their own pace, but ensure their safety at all times. Some dogs, regardless of breed, may not enjoy water and should not be forced to swim.

The Question: Do Rottweilers have webbed feet? 

No, Rottweilers do not have webbed feet. However, according to the AKC breed standard, what they do have are well defined and arched toes which are great at gripping tough terrain. Additionally, they have very thick pads which are protective and robust. This likely comes from their work as farm and livestock guardian dogs. Herding, pulling carts and guarding livestock were all day jobs for our friend the Rottie. The need for swimming or tolling would not have been part of the rota, therefore it’s not a trait that has been physically developed. 

As a caveat, it’s possible that some Rottweilers do have slightly webbed toes. However, this may be a result of crossbreeding with a water dog breed such as the Newfoundland.  That said, many owners often comment about how much their Rottie loves water. Perhaps it’s for this reason that the myth originally appeared. 

Does not having webbed feet affect the Rottweilers ability to swim?

Not having webbed feet doesn’t inherently prevent a dog from being able to swim, it may just make it more challenging or less efficient.

Despite this, many Rottweilers can still swim, although their comfort level and skill may vary from individual to individual. 

Thanks to their broad chest, powerful hind legs and shoulders, the Rottweiler is able to swim to a decent standard. Their physical attributes likely provide a good amount of buoyancy as well as propulsion. Additionally, their thick but short coats also help them stay warm but also hydro-dynamic compared to other breeds. 

However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s unlikely that your Rottie is going to outperform a water-dog breed when it comes to swimming. 

Are Rottweilers good swimmers?

Sure, they’re lacking the webbed toes. However, our Rottweiler friend has other attributes that make them a good swimmer when compared to other non-water dog breeds.

1

The Rottweiler Loves Water

Many Rotties love playing, swimming and splashing around in the water. Playing fetch is a great way to get your Rottie to start enjoying the water. Be sure to follow this up with some positive reinforcement.

2

Their muscular build

The Rottie is like many in the worker dog category, it’s powerful. It is durable, robust but also well proportioned. These attributes are great for swimming. The broad chest, powerful hindquarters and shoulders help them paddle with great effect.

3

The thick & short coat

Rottweilers have a thick, double layered and short coat. The topcoat is thick, short and waterproof, whilst their undercoat is more soft and fluffy. This helps them stay warm in the water, but also get around with more efficiency thanks to the hydro-dynamics.

4

Their temperament

Although not every Rottweiler is going to love the water, there are many that will. Their eagerness to please their owners, along with their fearless, brave attitude and need for physical activity and play mean that they should take to water more easily. Of course, they should be eased into and positively rewarded along the way.

A word of advice… Some dogs, regardless of breed, may simply not like being in water. Always ensure your dog is comfortable and safe when swimming, and never force a dog to swim if it’s uncomfortable or showing signs of distress. For inexperienced or nervous swimmers, doggy life jackets can be a great tool to help build confidence.

Teaching Your Rottweiler to swim

Now that we’ve established that many Rottweilers love swimming, what are some common-sense steps to help encourage your companion into the water? 

Rottweiler Swimming Lesson

Start Early – The earlier you introduce your dog to the water, the easier it will be to condition it over the long term. Remember positive reinforcement is key when rewarding a behaviour, so be sure to offer plenty of strokes and their favourite treats. 

Shallow & Calm Water – It can be frightening for your Rottweiler’s feet to leave the ground too soon. You should first get them used to the feeling of weightlessness, giving them the opportunity to move around in the water whilst their feet are still touching the ground. You also want to ensure that the water is calm so take them to the beach when the waves are calm or perhaps try the shallows of a local lake. Calm water will reduce any potential anxiety that may come with swimming. 

Go at their pace – It’s important not to rush your Rottie into swimming sooner than they want to. Let them explore and do it in their own time. However, you should always supervise this. If you feel your dog is starting to experiment with the deeper parts of the water and you sense potential danger then be sure to call them to you. 

Remember, the Rottie isn’t built for water, but these dogs were: 

Dog Breeds With Webbed Feet

  1. Newfoundland Dog – The loveable, adorable, bear-like Newfoundland dog is a master of the water. Used for water rescue activities across Canada and the United States. They have large webbed paws which help them swim great distances. Their strength and courage makes them one of the most famous water dogs. They’re also adored as family dogs by many. 
  2. Portuguese Water Dog – The Portuguese Water Dog also has webbed paws. Their high energy levels and desire to please owners has led them to being great companions but also brilliant dogs for fishing and water rescue. 
  3. Otterhound – The Otterhound was bred to hunt otters, despite this fact. The large webbed feet dog is extremely fun and friendly and is still very popular with many dog owners. 
  4. Weimaraner – They have a water resistant coat, webbed toes and great swimming ability. Originally a game hunting dog, they’re known for their loyalty and intelligence. 
  5. Labrador Retriever – Lab retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. A wonderful temperament, friendly and loyal nature means this breed makes a great service dog but also a wonderful family pet. Originally, their webbed pads helped them swim and retrieve game. 
  6. German Wirehaired Pointer – A water resistant coat and webbed feet helped the German Wirehaired Pointer become a popular dog of choice for game hunters. They have a great ability to swim and are well known for their intelligence. 
  7. Chesapeake Bay Retriever – A large breed used for hunting waterfowl, the Bay Retriever is known for its swimming ability and makes a wonderful companion. 
  8. Dachshund – The ever so tiny Dachshund surprisingly makes the list. It has no known hunting or retrieving ability, but somewhere along the line its genetics decided subtle webbed feet would be a good idea. 
  9. American Water Spaniel – A mid-sized dog that is great for fishing and game hunting trips. They’re robust in the water and get around with relative ease. 
  10. Boykin Spaniel – Also a mid-sized dog, the Boykin Spaniel is also great for waterfowl. Jumping out of boats and general playtime in the water. They also make wonderful family pets.
  11. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever – A rare but beautiful breed with crossovers to the Golden Retriever. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is great for waterfowl and has great ability to navigate water due to its.. You guessed it, webbed feet. 

Summary

Wrapping up, it seems that Rottweilers love the water, but due to Rotties not having webbed feet, they’re unfortunately not built for it. 

However, their physical prowess means that they can cope with water just fine. This means that you should absolutely introduce them to swimming, not only is it a great form of physical exercise, it’s also a hell of a lot of fun! 

Remember to introduce them to the water slowly, starting with shallow and calm water first. The objective should be to remove as many anxiety provoking variables as possible. 

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