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Left or right pawed? Which side does your dog favour?

There are ways to find out which is the dominant paw, says David Tomlinson

left or right pawed dog

I’ve lived with dogs all my life yet never known whether they were left or right pawed. About 10.6% of humans are left-handed, but nobody knows for sure what the percentage is with dogs because of the difficulty of finding out. It’s generally reckoned to be higher than with humans, and may be around 20%. (Read how to treat paw injuries in the field.)

Left or right pawed for left and right-handed owners?

I was intrigued by a recent study from the University of Lincoln, which suggested that left-handed people should adopt left-pawed dogs because they will get on better and have a stronger relationship. It also found that dogs will override their natural instinct to mimic their owner’s favourite hand.

This is a bit of a challenge for my dogs, as my wife is left-handed whereas I am right-handed. It did, however, make me want to find out whether my four-year-old spaniel, Emma was left or right pawed. The best method of finding out was to put a treat into a narrow-necked vessel and see which paw she used to try to get it out. (Read the best energy bars for dogs.)

To begin with, she used her left paw, but after a few seconds of frustration, her right paw was also used, before reverting back to her left paw. It was an inconclusive result, but on balance I would say that she was left-pawed, though perhaps she might be ambidextrous. There are other tests you can undertake, too. Does your dog turn to the left or the right when it settles into its bed? When it sets off for a walk, does it lead with its left or right paw? But perhaps the last question is whether it is of any significance. I’m not sure that it is. (Read how to use a slip lead.)