Puppies put a lot of miles on their little pads, preferring to dash around the house instead of taking a leisurely stroll. As busy as your puppy is, you may not have had the opportunity to take a look at those little pads, but when you get a chance, sneak a peek. Being brand new, puppy's pads are soft and smooth. And those little pads might be pink, black, brown or a combination of them all.
Some puppies have pink paw pads, but not all. You might see a mixed bag of different paw pad colors in just one litter, especially if the pups are of mixed-breed lineage. And just because a pup is born with pink paws, that doesn't mean she'll always have pink paws. Sometimes puppies' paw pad color changes, becoming darker as they mature.
Just like the color of their fur, nose and other skin surfaces, the color of a puppy's paw pads is genetically determined. Sometimes you'll see pink paws on puppies who have light fur, but that doesn't mean that all white dogs automatically have pink paws. The bichon frise is one example of a breed that is typically white or light-colored, but whose paw pads are black. Some dogs of mixed colors will have pink paws because they carry a gene that makes them incapable of producing pigment in their skin and hair. This can affect the dog's entire body or just certain spots.
Your pup's paw color could be an issue if you're considering entering her in an American Kennel Club–sanctioned dog show. The standards that the AKC has set don't always address the color of a dog's pads, but in some cases, if any pink is present on the paw pads, the dog's score can be affected. The AKC standards for the Boerboel breed, for example, lists pink paw pads as the only serious fault that could influence a dog's ranking in a show, although they won't disqualify her.
Just as with fur color, pad color doesn't always correspond directly with nail color. But if your pup has paw pads that are mostly pink, she could have mostly white nails too. This is helpful when it comes time for pedicures, as it's easier to trim nails that don't have pigment. That's because you'll be able to see and avoid cutting the "quick," the bundle of nerves and blood vessels inside the nail.
- Labrador Retrievers; Joan Walker
- Dog Grooming: Trimming Your Dog's Nails and the Canine Paw
- Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine: Clipping a Dog's Claws (Toenails)
- Dog Genetics: The White Spotting Series
- Mudi Compass: Nose, Paw Pad, Lip and Eye Rim Color
- American Kennel Club: Boerboel [PDF]
- American Kennel Club: Bichon Frise
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