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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Left and Right Pawed Dogs and Hair Whorls

     A 2009 study of dogs found that 80 percent have typical whorls in four places: chest, rump, elbows and back of the front legs. About 20 percent have additional whorls, as many as ten altogether, on the head, shoulders and abdomen. 
     Some researchers theorize that there is a link between hair whorl direction and side preference. They found that left-pawed dogs have a counterclockwise chest hair whorl; right-pawed dogs' chest whorls go clockwise. But some dogs don't fit the mold and are opposite. 
     According to a guide dog school in Australia, the exceptions, right-pawed dogs with counterclockwise whorls are twice as likely to successfully complete the guide dog program from which only 40 percent of the students graduate. Homeless dogs and shelter dogs had significantly more counterclockwise whorls than non-shelter dogs, suggesting that there may be a relationship between hair whorls and temperament. The whorls can be either a plain, less common, whorl or tufted. The placement and directions of the whorl is linked not only to the dog's temperament, but to whether they are right or left-pawed. 
     As mentioned, statistically right-pawed dogs that have counterclockwise whorls on their chest are twice as likely to make the grade as guide dogs. Like humans, dogs and many other animals are right or left-pawed, and some are even ambidextrous. Generally, male dogs have a left paw preference. 
     There are a number of ways to determine paw preference. 

1) Place a treat under a piece of furniture and just within reach of the dog to see which paw it uses to dig it out. 
2) Watch which paw the dog uses to hold a bone with while chewing on it.
3) Place a piece of adhesive tape on the dog’s nose and she which paw it uses to remove it. 
4) Watch which paw the dog uses first in stepping forward. 

     Research studies have connected paw preference with certain behaviors and temperaments. A 2006 University of New England study found the way dogs use their paws may be a sign of how they react to noise. Ambidextrous dogs are likely to be more reactive to noise such as thunderstorms and fireworks. 
     While this research may seem rather pointless, it helps save time and money when it comes to selecting dogs that have to work for their living. It can also help when selecting a family pet to know if the dog is likely to be smart and loving or if it's likely to be ill-tempered. 

Article from Ozpets on dog paw preference.  
How about paw preference in cats?

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