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Left or Right Paw?

Author: Paulette Solinski | Date: March 18, 2013

Ten percent of people in the world are left handed. This got me wondering whether the percentage is similar for dogs.

Yes, dogs have actually been shown to have a preference for one paw over the other.

Turns out that the preference in dogs runs along gender lines.  According to a study done at the University of Sydney, Australia, female dogs tend to use their right paw while male dogs prefer their left. The theory is that there is a hormonal component to the preference.

An additional study conducted at the University of New England shows that dogs without a paw preference are more likely to have a noise phobia.

Why is this information helpful?  To the average person, it’s probably not.  But for anyone hoping to use their dog for specialized activities, it may help to know your dog’s paw preference.  An ambidextrous dog may not be the best choice for a task that could include a lot of noise, like search and rescue.

How do you tell your dog’s paw preference? The best way is to observe your dog.

If your dog is chewing a bone, look at which paw he is holding the bone with. Another test is to give your dog a tube which is big enough to hold a treat and your dog’s paw, but not her head. Hold the tube with both hands and see what paw she uses to try and get the treat out.  In order to really get an answer for your dog’s “pawedness” you need to do this several times.  Be careful not to put your own bias on this. I am left handed and actually taught both my dogs to shake with their left paws because that is the way I do it.

We’d love to hear your findings. Let us know whether your dog is a male or a female and whether he is right or left pawed.


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