Dog Paw Anatomy

Dog Paw Anatomy

  • Cristina Stavro

This month, we're covering all things paws and boots, so to "kick off" the month, we thought we'd start with the basic anatomy of a dog paw.

The dog paw has five basic parts: (A) the claw, (B) digital pads , (C) metacarpal (on the front paws) and  metatarsal (on the rear paws) pad, (D) dew claw, (E) carpal pad.


Dog Paw diagram with letters to identify different parts.


The metacarpal, metatarsal, and digital pads function as the load-bearing, shock-absorbing pads. The carpal pad helps with skid and traction on a slope or while stopping.

The claws create traction and help a dog dig and tear at prey. The purpose of the dew claw remains a mystery, though it is believed to have been more useful historically in dog breeds.

Not all dogs have dew claws, and they can be on the front legs or less commonly, the rear legs. 

photo of dog foot with dew claw pointed out.



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