Have you ever noticed your dog using its paws in unique and surprising ways? From playing fetch to opening doors, dogs have found incredible ways to utilize their paws for various tasks and communication.

In this article, we will explore the importance of paws in different dog breeds, specifically focusing on “dog breeds that use their paws a lot”, how they use them, and how to properly care for and maintain your furry friend’s paws. By the end, you’ll have a newfound appreciation for the amazing abilities hidden in those cute little paws!

Key Takeaways

  • Discover the importance of paws in different dog breeds for communication, hunting & working abilities.
  • Train your pup to use their paws appropriately with positive reinforcement and redirecting paw behaviors.
  • Identify your dog’s paw preference by observing them or using tests like Kong Test or First Stepping Test to better understand their behavior.

The Importance of Paws in Dog Breeds

A picture of a dog breed with its paws visible

Paws play a vital role in a dog’s life, serving various purposes such as communication, hunting, and performing tasks. Different breeds use their paws in unique ways, showcasing their intelligence and adaptability. For example, Labrador Retrievers are known for using their paws like hands, while Siberian Huskies use their paws for playing and expressing emotions.

With so many dogs relying on their paws for essential functions, it’s no wonder that caring for their paws is a crucial aspect of dog ownership.

There are three main types of dog paws: cat feet, hare feet, and webbed feet. Each paw type has specific characteristics that are suited for different tasks and environments.

For instance, the German Shepherd, a highly intelligent working dog, has cat feet that enable them to move with agility and speed. Understanding the unique traits of your dog’s paws can help you better appreciate their abilities and provide the proper care they need.


Dogs use their paws to communicate with humans and other animals, expressing emotions and needs. For example, English Setters often use their paws to touch other pets instead of their mouth, while Labrador Retrievers are known to use their paws to ask for anything and everything.

German Shepherds, on the other hand, can be quite expressive with their paws, and some Beagles even like to catch balls with their paws! How impressive!

My Pomeranian uses her paws to beg for attention, by getting up on her back legs. She communicates with both humans and other dogs this way. On the other hand, my Springer Spaniel will use her paw to ‘pet’ me back when I’m stroking her – so cute!

It’s fascinating to observe how different lovely dog breeds use their paws to interact with the world around them, including other dogs.

Hunting and Working Abilities

Certain dog breeds use their paws for hunting and working, showcasing their natural instincts and abilities. Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and German Shorthaired Pointers use their paws for hunting and pointing, while Akitas and Shiba Inus use their paws to dig and catch small critters.

Energetic breeds like the Border Collie use their paws for herding tasks, ensuring the safety and order of their flock. These remarkable abilities highlight the versatility and intelligence of these dog breeds.

Performing Tasks

Some dogs use their paws to perform tasks, such as opening doors or retrieving objects. This is particularly useful in service dogs to help disabled people.

Other dogs use their paws in their ‘work’. Labrador Retrievers, for example, can use their paws for searching, detecting, and rescuing tasks, as well as giving high-fives to their owners.

By teaching your dog to use their paws properly, you can enhance their skills in performing tasks and improve communication with them. This not only creates a stronger bond between you and your furry companion, but also ensures their mental and physical well-being.

13 Top Dog Breeds That Use Their Paws A Lot

A picture of a dog lifting its paw.

Let’s dive into a list of many dog breeds that use their paws extensively, each with their unique reasons and purposes. From intelligent working dogs like the German Shepherd to playful breeds like the Boxer, these dogs showcase an array of paw usage that will leave you in awe of their capabilities.

By understanding their distinct paw habits, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the remarkable abilities of these dogs. From herding and retrieving to digging and playing, these dogs have a wide range of uses for their paws. Whether they’re working or playing, these dogs demonstrate the incredible power of their paws.

1. German Shepherds

Two German Shepherds

German Shepherds, being one of the most intelligent dog breeds, are known for their ability to use their paws for various tasks and communication. Bred for their intelligence, keen sense of smell, and working abilities, these dogs excel in activities such as bomb and drug detection, therapy work, and exploration.

Their paws play a crucial role in helping them accomplish these tasks, making them one of the most versatile and useful dog breeds.

2. Boxers


Boxers are playful dogs that use their paws for play-fighting and communication. Some people have a theory that they got their name from their habit of standing on their hind legs and throwing punches with their front paws, just like a boxer in a ring.

Their expressive paw usage makes them not only entertaining playmates but also great communicators with their owners, ensuring a strong bond between them.

3. Labrador Retrievers

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers are versatile canines that use their paws for tasks and communication. Labrador Retriever dogs are known for their ability to perform duties such as search and rescue and detection work.

Their paws aid them in accomplishing these tasks, showcasing their adaptability and usefulness in various situations.

4. Golden Retrievers

Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers use their paws for swimming, search and rescue, service work, and communication. They are known for their kind, friendly, and self-assured nature, making them perfect for assisting in tasks such as therapy work and alerting their handlers to medical needs.

Their paws play an essential role in their success as service dogs, providing them with the dexterity and strength needed for their duties.

5. Huskies


Huskies, especially Siberian Huskies, use their paws for communication and expressing emotions. These dogs are known for their love of play, often using their paws to kick a ball around or ask for attention from their owners.

Their expressive paw usage and cat-like facial features not only make them great playmates but also allow them to communicate effectively with their humans, creating a strong bond between them.

6. Akitas


Akitas are known for their cat-like feet and use their paws for various activities. These large, muscular dogs were originally bred for hunting boar, elk, and Yezo bears, meaning they’re very brave and determined!

They can use their paws to play fetch and even twist doorknobs, displaying their incredible dexterity and versatility.

7. Beagles


Beagles use their paws for hunting, playing, and grooming. These loving and active dogs are known for their friendliness and great companionship, making them perfect family pets.

Some Beagles use their paws to catch balls instead of their mouths and even rub their tiny paws all over their faces to clean them. Seeing a dog groom their face like this is adorable!

8. German Shorthaired Pointers

German Shorthaired Pointer

German Shorthaired Pointers, a popular hunting dog breed, use their paws for hunting and pointing at prey. These dogs are known for their unique habit of using their paws to point out prey to their owners, making them exceptional hunting companions.

Their ability to use their paws in this manner highlights the breed’s natural instincts and capabilities.

9. Australian Shepherds

Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds use their paws for communication and expressing affection. These highly intelligent dogs are known for their herding abilities and their need for mental stimulation and exercise.

Understanding their paw usage can help strengthen the bond between you and your Australian Shepherd. By recognizing the different ways they use their paws, you can better understand their needs and show them the love and attention they crave.

10. Shiba Inus

Shiba Inu

Shiba Inus are agile hunting dogs that use their paws for various activities and communication. They possess cat and fox-like behaviors, using their paws for playing, eating, and communicating with their owners.

Observing their paw usage can give you a better understanding of their unique personality and abilities.

11. Border Collies

Border Collie

Border Collies use their paws for herding and communication. As a breed of herding dog, they are incredibly intelligent, agile, and obedient. Their paws play a crucial role in helping them herd livestock, ensuring the safety and order of their flock.

Their paw usage also helps them communicate effectively with their owners. This communication is essential for successful herding and for building a strong bond between the dog and its owner.

12. Pugs


Pugs are expressive creatures. They use their paws and faces to communicate with their owners. They are known for their adorable, wrinkled faces and affectionate personalities, making them great companions for both children and adults.

Pugs often use their paws to gesture and communicate with their owners, like putting a paw on their owner’s arm or giving a high-five, creating a strong bond between them. This bond is strengthened by the pug’s ability to understand and respond to its owner’s emotions.

13. American Bulldogs

American Bulldog 

American Bulldogs use their paws for play, problem-solving, and communication. These large, muscular dogs are known for their strength and agility, as well as their intelligence.

They use their paws to play with toys, solve puzzles, and communicate with their dog owners.

Paw Care and Maintenance

A picture of a dog with its paws checked for injuries and irritants

Proper paw care and maintenance are essential for a dog’s overall health and well-being. I recommend regularly checking your furbaby’s paws – I check them each time we come in from a long walk to ensure there’s nothing stuck in their paws or any unexpected injuries.

By caring for your dog’s paws, you can ensure that your dog remains comfortable, safe, and able to perform their tasks and activities without any issues.

In the following sections, we will discuss some essential tips on how to care for and maintain your dog’s paws.

Regular Nail Trimming

A picture of a dog getting its nails trimmed.

Regular nail trimming helps prevent injuries and discomfort for your dog. Overgrown nails can cause pain, difficulty walking, and even lead to infections. By keeping your dog’s nails short, you can ensure their comfort and mobility.

Make sure to use the appropriate nail clippers and trim your dog’s nails at a 45-degree angle, avoiding the quick to prevent any pain or injury.

If your dogs dislike nail trimming, you might want to try a nail grinder. I have a battery-operated nail grinder that I use on my three dogs – I find it much easier than nail clippers and they find it less stressful.

Checking for Injuries and Irritants

A picture of a dog having its paws checked.

Checking your dog’s paws for injuries and irritants ensures their comfort and safety. Regularly inspect your dog’s paws for any cuts, scrapes, or signs of injury, as well as any thorns or foreign objects that may have become lodged in the paw.

If you find any injuries or irritants, clean the area with mild soap and warm water, and seek veterinary care if necessary.

Protecting Paws from Extreme Temperatures

A picture of a dog wearing boots.

Protecting your dog’s paws from extreme temperatures is crucial for their health and comfort. Extreme heat or cold can cause damage to their paw pads, such as chapping, cracking, and frostbite.

To keep your dog’s paws safe, use booties or paw wax to shield them from the elements and avoid taking them for walks on hot pavement or in frigid temperatures.

I personally prefer paw wax, as it’s more comfortable for my dogs and allows them to walk with a more natural gait compared to dog boots.

Training Your Dog to Use Their Paws Appropriately

A picture of a dog with its paws visible to identify its paw preference

Training your dog to use its paws appropriately can prevent destructive behaviors and improve communication between you and your furry companion. By teaching them specific behaviors like giving paw, high-fiving, or using their paws to communicate a need or desire, you can create a stronger bond with your pet.

This type of training can be done with positive reinforcement, such as treats or verbal praise. Start by teaching your dog to give a paw, then move on to more complex behaviors.

Positive Reinforcement

A picture of a dog learning to give a paw.

Using positive reinforcement encourages appropriate paw usage. This involves rewarding desired behavior with treats, praise, or other rewards, which helps reinforce the behavior and makes it more likely to be repeated.

Positive reinforcement not only creates a pleasant and rewarding experience for your dog, but it also boosts motivation and self-confidence.

Redirecting Paw Behaviors

Redirecting paw behaviors that you don’t want helps teach your dog when and how to use its paws properly. I recommend doing this through positive reinforcement, like giving treats or verbal praise when your pup uses its paws correctly.

By consistently redirecting your dog’s paw behaviors, you can ensure that they learn to use their paws in an appropriate and beneficial manner.

Understanding Your Dog’s Paw Preferences

Understanding your dog’s paw preferences can provide insight into their personality and behavior. Isn’t it interesting that a dog’s paw can tell us so much?

In the following sections, we will discuss how to identify your dog’s paw preference and the possible implications of this preference.

Identifying Paw Preference

An image showing a Border Collie using its paws to herd sheep, one of the dog breeds that use their paws a lot

Identifying your dog’s paw preference can be done through observation and simple tests, such as the Kong Test or First-Stepping Test. By watching which paw your dog uses to take their first step or interact with a Kong toy, you can determine its paw preference.

This information can help you better understand your dog’s behavior and adjust your training methods accordingly.

Implications of Paw Preference

Paw preference may have implications for a dog’s temperament, training success, and potential aggression. Studies have found that dogs that prefer their left paw may be more likely to display aggressive behavior, while right-pawed dogs may be more social and outgoing.

Of course, this is just a guide and each dog is different. There’s a lot more than just paw preference that determines how they behave.

Yet by understanding your dog’s paw preference, you can better tailor your training methods and anticipate potential behavioral issues.


In conclusion, understanding the importance of paws in various dog breeds can help you better appreciate their unique abilities and provide the proper care they need. From communication and hunting to performing tasks and expressing affection, our furry friends rely on their paws for numerous aspects of their lives.

By taking care of their paws, training them to use their paws appropriately, and understanding their paw preferences, we can strengthen the bond between us and our pets and ensure their overall health and happiness. So, go ahead and give your dog a high-five – they’ve earned it!

Frequently Asked Questions

What breed of dog uses its front paws a lot?

The breeds we’ve discussed use their paws a lot. In addition, Labradoodles are known for being active, smart, and friendly dogs, and they are also known for using their front paws to explore and engage with the world. They love problem-solving and interacting with people and their environment, which means that Labradoodles often use their front paws a lot!

What does it mean when dogs use their paws a lot?

Dogs use their paws to communicate with people and other animals. Pawing can be an act of affection, a way to get attention, or a sign that they want something. Dogs pawing can also be an expression of anxiety, boredom, or discomfort.

Is it normal for dogs to use their paws like hands?

From a behavioral perspective, it is quite normal for dogs to use their paws as hands. Certain breeds have even developed this behavior into a more sophisticated set of movements.

So yes, it is absolutely normal for dogs to use their paws like hands.

What role do paws play in a dog’s life?

Paws are an integral part of a dog’s life as they play a major role in many everyday activities like walking, running, and playing. They also act as important tools for communication between dogs and humans.