Is Your Dog Left-Pawed or Right-Pawed? Learn How to Tell and What It Means!

Did you know that when it comes to paw preference, our canine companions are more decisive than you might think?

A fascinating study reveals that a whopping 68 percent of dogs show a distinct preference for using either their left or right paw, rather than being ambidextrous. This contrasts sharply with humans, where a clear majority are right-handed.

Interestingly, the world of dogs doesn’t skew towards a dominant paw across the population.

This nugget of knowledge opens up a delightful opportunity to delve deeper into the world of our four-legged friends, discovering not just which paw they favor but what this preference might indicate about their personality and brain function.

So, how can you determine if your dog is a lefty or a righty, and what might this paw preference tell you about them? Let’s explore together how to uncover and understand this intriguing aspect of canine behavior.

How to Tell if Your Dog is Left-Pawed or Right-Pawed

Determining your dog’s preferred paw is easier than you might think, and you can do it through simple observations and tests at home. Here are a few methods:

1. The Toy Test

Place a treat or a toy under a piece of furniture, just within reach. Watch which paw your dog uses first to try and retrieve it. Repeat this test several times to see if there’s a consistent pattern.

2. The Stair Test

Observe your dog as they start to climb stairs. Dogs usually step with their preferred paw first when there’s no hurry. You might need to watch several times to notice a pattern, as dogs can change their starting paw based on excitement levels or speed.

3. The “First Step” Test

This is similar to the stair test but can be done on flat ground. Place your dog in a sit or stay position, then encourage them to come to you. Note which paw they use to take their first step. Repeat this several times for consistency.

4. The Kong Test

Fill a Kong toy or similar with something delicious. As your dog tries to hold the toy and lick out the treat, observe which paw they use to stabilize the toy. Dogs, like humans, will use their dominant paw to perform tasks requiring precision or strength.

What Does Paw Preference Mean?

While it’s fun to know whether your dog might be a lefty or a righty, you might wonder if this has any practical implications. Research has shown that paw preference might correlate with certain behavioral traits.

1. Confidence and Copeability

Some studies suggest that dogs with a strong preference for one paw (either left or right) may be more confident and better at coping with stress. In contrast, ambidextrous dogs, those without a strong preference, might be more susceptible to anxiety.

2. Brain Hemisphere Functionality

Just as in humans, the use of one paw over the other in dogs is thought to be linked to the opposite side of the brain’s functionality. The theory is that a right-pawed dog, controlled by the left brain hemisphere, might be more straightforward and task-focused, whereas left-pawed dogs, with dominant right brain hemispheres, could be more creative and emotional.

3. Gender Differences

Interestingly, some research points to gender differences in paw preference, with male dogs slightly more likely to be left-pawed and females right-pawed, though the reasons for this remain speculative.


Discovering whether your dog is left-pawed or right-pawed is not just an entertaining party trick; it offers a glimpse into their behavioral tendencies and brain function. While paw preference is a small piece of the vast puzzle that makes up your dog’s personality, it’s another way we can connect with and understand our canine companions. So, grab a toy or treat and start testing — you might learn something new about your furry friend!

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