It turns out that dogs do show a clear preference for their left or right paw and there’s roughly a 50:50 split between left-pawedness and right-pawedness across all dog breeds. Here are a few tests you can do to find out whether your dog is a ‘southpaw’:
- Have your dog sit, and then get up and walk. Which paw do they lead off from?
- When you ‘shake hands’ with your dog, which paw do they offer most often?
- When trying to get a toy out from under the sofa, which paw do they use?
But whereas left-handedness in humans makes you superior in lots of ways (well, we think so anyway), what does it mean for dogs?
Well, it seems left-handedness in dogs also gives you an advantage. Left-pawed dogs are generally preferred for police and military use and also as guide dogs because they are easier to train (this is mentioned in a few articles but we cannot find a research reference for it. There IS research showing that left-pawed dogs are more aggressive and that may explain the military use) . And a recent study by the Vrije University in Amsterdam has proven once and for all that left-pawed dogs are quicker at learning and better than problem solving (Report: Paw Preference Correlates to Task Performance in Dogs). In the study, the team of researchers selected an equal number of left-pawed and right-pawed dogs to complete some basic intelligence tests. The team found “that dogs departing with the left front paw perform significantly better than dogs departing with the right front paw.”
So let’s hear it for our four-footed lefty friends, and all the dog owners out there do let us know in the comments here if your dog is a lefty or a righty and what effect you think this has.