Are Dogs Typically Right-pawed or Left-pawed?

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Most humans have a dominant side – the hand they use to write with typically displays that dominance. Stating the percentage of humans that are right-handed over left-handed is tough as there isn’t much empirical data on it. The best I could find was a quote from Scientific American stating that roughly 75-95% are right-handed.
 

But what about dogs – do they have a dominant side? Hard to tell isn’t it? There were studies done on this and the most recent, conducted in 2006 at the University of Manchester found that dogs tend to be evenly split 50-50. An older study, done in 1991 at Ataturk University in Turkey showed 50 percent of cats were right-pawed, 40 percent were left-pawed and 10 percent were ambidextrous.
Are Dogs Typically Right-pawed or Left-pawed?

So what significance does this have? Maybe none, but there was a recent study that showed left-pawed dogs may be more aggressive towards strangers. While it was interesting results, it was a fairly small sample and more studies are to be done. Someday, if the handedness turns out to be significant, it may be another factor to consider when breeding or selecting your dog!

 
If you want to find out which side is dominant in your pet, there are several tests that you can run – mind you, you need to do them many times over a course of day to get a true picture. Here’s an example of some of the tests:

  • What paw does your pet usually ‘shake’ with if you ask them to shake?
  • While your pet is lying on their back, hold a toy just out of reach and see which paw they use to bat at it.
  • Place a toy or treat under a chair or table and see which paw your pat uses to reach for it.
  • Which paw does your dog use to ‘knock’ on the backdoor to be let in?
  • Which paw do they typically dig with?

 
All of these uses, if observed over time can give you an indication of which is the dominant side. Luckily with our pets, it doesn’t really matter.
 

Additional Readings:

Left-pawed dogs found to be more aggressive
Are Cats and Dogs Right or Left Handed, Too?
Is Your Pet Right-Pawed, Left-Pawed, or Ambidextrous?
Is your pet right or left-handed?

 

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28 Comments

  1. We’ve tested this out many times and we are all dominant right pawed. Now, if only we could learn to write and use a scissors, it may actually matter!
    Emma recently posted…Ho, Ho, Ho, Green GiantMy Profile

  2. Very interesting….. I will have to check! But I do notice that my dogs have a preference on which side of the car they prefer to jump in on – especially when it is a higher jump.

  3. Interesting. Of our current pack, Jeffie is a leftie and definitely more reactive to strangers. However, our late Tucker was a leftie, but also very mellow and loved all people.
    Sue recently posted…Adopt Tucker an 8 yr old Senior Puggle Dog in Missouri #Beagle #PugMy Profile

  4. I believe they are dominant on one side and the way we usually see it is when we are teaching them handling. Often you will see it if you give them a right cast but they turn left rather than right (or vice versa). Sometimes you have to really work to make them turn easily in either direction and other dogs pick it up right away.
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Stuck In A Deep FreezeMy Profile

  5. oh that was interesting! I had no clue, but that’s really an important question. Easy always points with his left paw and I will watch him now to find it out correctly … but I’m sure this guy is a left-pawer :o)
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog MISCHIEF MOANDAYMy Profile

  6. Sherman always bats at his toy with his right paw but he tries to grab treats from under the table with his left paw.
    Jen recently posted…Leroy Gets BustedMy Profile

  7. Bentley is right-pawed and proud of it! BOL!
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…BFTB Channel 7 NETWoof NewsMy Profile

  8. I taught the pups to shake with both hands, but as a right-hander I normally reach my right hand for the first shake, leading them to favor their left paw. Hm, I’m going to have to do some more research.

  9. I love this article, and I can say for sure Laika almost always uses her right paw for things. It’s interesting about the left paw – aggression link, I wonder if it’s somehow tied to the findings about the way a dog slants their tail to one side or another. I’m always amazed by these dog studies – they end up being so much more complex than we give them credit for.
    Jen Gabbard recently posted…How to Make Your Dogs Toys Last LongerMy Profile

  10. Well, if nothing else, I’m pretty sure my deaf hound girl, Ran, is “right” pawed. She loves to run up and down our driveway (it’s within the yard with gates across it so she can’t get out) and I’ve noticed that she always pivots on her right back foot when she turns. In good weather she keeps the nails on both back paws completely ground down, but it’s most obvious on her right foot. I would suspect our other four are also right pawed, but now I’m curious and want to check the rest of my furbabies out. I think our Maine Coon boy might be left pawed. That’s the paw he always stretches out to me with. Interesting post. I have never really thought about it.

  11. Interesting. I’ll have to pay more attention, but I’m pretty sure Sheba always bats me with her left paw when she is looking for attention, but that’s the only thing I’ve really noticed. Now I’m curious of course!
    Jan K recently posted…Bad News, Good NewsMy Profile

  12. Haley mostly uses her left paw and I did read an article once talking about whichever way your dog usually turns when playing fetch has to do with whether they are right or left side dominant. I’m not sure if there’s any truth to that, but Haley usually turns to her left when she’s coming back to me after retrieving something. Interesting article!
    Elaine recently posted…The Liebster AwardMy Profile

  13. That is really interesting, off to check our handedness!
    Hailey and Zaphod recently posted…Happy Family Day!My Profile

  14. This is really interesting and something I’m definitely going to have to test out when I get home this evening!
    It’s Dog or Nothing recently posted…Responsible Animal Guardian MonthMy Profile

  15. Fascinating. I need to watch more closely… but I think that Shyla is right-pawed because I can always teach her “paw tricks” more easily with her right paw than her left.

    R got in trouble with the vet. His elbow dysplasia is getting worse very fast but he also gained 3 lbs (I don’t know how – honestly). So, diet time for him. We really need to find a reasonable scale for the pups since I can’t lift them.

    • Elbow dysplasia is tough. Our Sally had it from a young age – we ended up having surgery and she did pretty well after that. 3LB! R – too many snacks 😉
      mkob recently posted…Are Dogs Typically Right-pawed or Left-pawed?My Profile

  16. I was wondering how one would tell. Interesting.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…House Woof Valentine~Mischief MondayMy Profile

  17. Ha! i have never thought about that before!!! I suppose I have two right handed pups and a lefty!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Why I give my dogs antlers – and you should too!My Profile

  18. We used to joke about Leo being left pawed like me, because he would always give me his left paw first. But if I asked for the right – he would do that too! BOL

  19. I don’t know the answer to these questions for Luna, but I’m going to start paying attention to find out!
    Jessica Shipman recently posted…Easy Snow Day Smoothies for DogsMy Profile

  20. The answer is left for our dogs, all of them. I’ll have to have some fun testing this though 🙂
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Make Raw Feeding Easier with a Pet Health Assessment by The Pet BeastroMy Profile

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