Tree’s and Paws

Full Title: Tree's and Paws

Author: Tamarie Prewitt

Date of Publication: August 29, 2014


Research Paper Text:

The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog is quite an amazing working canine. They are used for hunting, herding, and protection and at 6 months old are already doing the work of 2 year old dogs. Most amazing of all is their ability to climb trees. Are the Catahoula’s paws what make them such great tree climbers?

A Catahoula’s paws are webbed. (Connected by a membrane) Webbed paws are important for water retrieving breeds. “Many breeds have webbing, but Catahoula’s are unique because the webbing extends to nearly the end of each toe. The webbing enables them to work effectively in wetter areas. They also make the Catahoula a very efficient and quick swimmer.” (1) This gives them ease in negotiating marshy landscapes.

“This dog has long, sharp, hard nails which assist in tree climbing.” (2) The dew claw also assists in gripping helping them to not fall out of the tree. The 3 Catahoula’s that I have lived with over the years have all sharpened their claws on various things like sidewalks and flagstones. I notice how they often use their paws just as we use our hands. They use their digits to grip toys, food, trees. While on a tree the digits are open wide and the claws, and dew claws are digging into the trunk.

The Catahoula has a Snowshoe foot, an oval foot with well-arched digits and well-cornified thick footpads. Well-developed webbing and fun occur between the digits. Water-retrieving breeds as well as mountain and arctic dogs have strong webbing between their toes. The nerves that supply the paw are for the forelimbs are the radial nerve, median nerve, ulnar nerve, median sensory branches, and the superficial radial nerve. For the hindlimb they are the superficial peroneal nerve, deep peroneal nerve, the medial plantar nerve, and the lateral plantar nerve. The muscles of the paw are the superficial muscles of the paw, the superficial digital flexor muscle, and the deep digital flexor muscle. The paws blood supply to the forefoot is primarily through the axillary, brachial and median major arteries. Secondary blood supplies are provided by the common interosseous, caudal interosseous and radial major arteries. Arteries to the metacarpus and digits arise from the superficial and deep palmer arches, cranial superficial antebrachial and dorsal carpal rete. Blood flows to the metatarsal and digital arteries of the hindfoot primarily through the following sequence of arteries: external iliac-femoral-popliteal-cranial tibial-dorsal pedal and saphenous. (3)

Massage of the paws is helpful in numerous ways. I feel the 2 most important reasons would be that because most dogs do not like their paws touched massaging them is a great way to teach your dog to have their paws handled increasing their trust. The other is that is helps maintain and restore flexibility, ROM and ROE.

Most canines are unable to climb trees. The dog’s skeletal structure is not flexible like thatof a cat and their claws do not as sharp or flexing like cats. A Catahoula is longer than tall giving them more flexability in their backs, and as mentioned earlier have sharp nails. My research has found four canines that climb trees, the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog, the Tree Walking Coonhound, the Jack Russell Terrier, and the New Guinea Singing Dog. Wolves and other wild dogs climb trees to get to the food and animals that inhabit them. “It is believed that the Catahoula’s tree climbing skills came about naturally. Food was scarce and dogs fended for
themselves, making them versatile.” (4) appears that while the Catahoula’s paw aides them in tree climbing, but also webbed feet for swimming.







  1. Catahoula Leopard Dogs and Their Webbed Paws No Author stated
  2. about Catahoula Leopard Dogs
  3. Dog Anatomy A Coloring Atlas Robert A. Kainer, DVM, MS and Thomas O. McCracken MS 2003
  4. 6 Dog Breeds With Secret Superpowers E. Reid Ross, Dominik Zezula January 18, 2014
  5. Chapter 2 Human anatomy and figure drawing Chapter 3 Animal anatomy


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