What Are the Fingers on a Dog's Paws Called?

by Melodie Anne Google
    He has phalanges just like you do.

    He has phalanges just like you do.

    BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

    The anatomy of your four-legged chum’s paws isn’t that different from that of your hands and feet. Each paw pad is surrounded by little toes, or fingers if you prefer. Some call the ones on the front paws fingers and the ones on the back feet toes. Scientifically, they're all phalanges, and so are yours. But technically, the dogs are all toes since they're not attached to working thumbs and are unable to grasp anything.

    Toe Details

    Your mischievous buddy has four fingers on each of his front two paws and four toes on each of his rear paws -- 16 in all. Some breeds also have a fifth finger or toe on one, two, three or even all feet. These extras are known as dewclaws; they're kind of like thumbs in humans except useless. Typically a vet will remove the hind dewclaws of certain breeds when they're babies. Those extra “thumbs” in the back can get stuck on things and tear, leading to infections later on down the line.

    Photo Credits

    • BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.

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