Domestic Dog

Tracks and signs left by domestic dogs of any breed.

Canis domesticus

Dog tracks photo by Kim Cabrera. 2007. This photo shows a doubled dog track, hind on top of front foot.

Dog Track
The track above is actually an overlap of two tracks. The hind track is on top of the front track.
Look closely and you will see the hint of an outline of the front track.

Note: The size of dog tracks varies widely due to the many different breeds of dog tracks. The shape can vary as well. Some are more elongated, having what is called the "hare foot." Others appear more like the track above. Where possible, I indicate the breed that left the track, but this was not always possible. Just be aware that there is enormous variation in dog track shapes and sizes.

 
Domestic dog front track. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

This is the front track of a domestic dog. Notice that the heel pad is larger than in the hind track, below. The hind track also appears narrower, with the toes less splayed out. Claw marks show and there are four toes. However, there will be tracks in which the claws don't show. This track was made by the same dog as the track below.

 
Domestic dog hind track. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

The hind track of a domestic dog. This is the hind foot. It was made by the same dog that left the track above. Notice that the hind paw is more oval or egg-shaped in overall outline. Claw marks show clearly in this print. Also notice the bulge in the center of the track, where the "negative space" is. This bulge is characteristic of dog tracks. The outer toes are more triangular in shape rather than teardrop-shaped like those of felines.

 
domestic dog complete track

Right front track of domestic dog. You can see the dewclaw as well as the carpal pad in this photo. The dewclaw is the imprint to the left just below the metacarpal (palm) pad. The imprint in the lower right corner of the photo is the carpal pad, which does not usually show up in tracks. The animal has to be moving fast, or jumping for this complete a track to show up. Some species have dewclaws on their hind feet, but generally this is a feature of front feet. The carpal pad is found only on the front foot.

 
Domestic dog hind track. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
A hind track of a domestic dog.
 
Domestic dog digging in sand. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
This digging in sand was done by a domestic dog.
 
Domestic dog front track. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A nice dog track in sand. The bulge in the center of the track, between the toes and the heel pad, is a canine characteristic.

 
Domestic dog tracks. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A pair of dog tracks in mud. Notice that the claw marks don't show clearly in all toes.

 
Domestic dog tracks. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Front track (top) and hind track of a domestic dog. The claw marks are not well defined in the front track, but other characteristics tell you this is a canine track. .

 
Domestic dog front track. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

The front track of a dog in sand. Notice the claw marks, indicating it is canine, and the larger heel pad indicating the front foot.

 
Domestic dog hind track. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
Hind track from a domestic dog.
 
 
Dog track animation and photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera. Do not use without permission.

This animation shows the outline of a dog track. Compare it to the outline of a cougar track on the canine vs. feline page.

 
Dog running in park. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera. Copyright 2007.
A running dog makes tracks that look different than those made at a walk.
 
Domestic dog scat. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera. 2007.

A domestic dog scat. Note the lack of bones and fur from prey animals due to the diet of dog kibble.

 
Dog track. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera

Domestic dog track in sand. The various breeds of dogs all make different tracks. Dog tracks are extremely varied.

 
Dog track. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera
The hind track of the same dog as above.
 
domestic dog scat. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera

Domestic dog scats can usually be differentiated from those of wild canines by looking at the contents. Scats of dogs fed on kibble will look like this. Wild canids normally have fur from prey, and possibly bones, in their scats.

 
Dog track. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera

This distorted dog track was made in soft mud which had algae growing on top of it. Although this track appears to have an overall round outline, the claw (indicated by the red arrow) indicates that this is a canine track.

 
Dog track showing slip. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera

This dog track shows a lot of distortion because the animal slipped when it made the track. Notice how the mark from the heel is long? This indicates slippage.

 
Dog track distorted. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera
Another distorted dog track, showing a slip in the mud.
 
small dog breed. Jack Russell terrier. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera

Will this small dog make tracks that look anything like those of the huge Mastiff below?

 
large dog breed Mastiff. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera
What do the tracks of a 140-pound dog look like?
 
mastiff track. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera
This is the front track of the mastiff above.
 
mastiff track. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera
The hind track of the mastiff above.
 
mastiff track. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera
The mastiff's tracks in mud.
 
mastiff track. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera
Mastiff tracks from muddy feet on concrete.
 
foot of large dog. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera

The foot of a large dog can be compared to the foot of a smaller breed below. They share the features of having four toes and claws, but the amount of fur and the size vary considerably.

 
Maltese front foot. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera
The tiny front foot of a Maltese.
 
Maltese hind foot. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera

The delicate hind foot of a Maltese. Compare these feet to those of the larger dog above. With the many dog breeds out there, you can see why dog tracks are not uniform in appearance.

 
dog hind track

The hind track of a domestic dog in mud. Note the egg-shaped or oval appearance and the blunt claws.

 
dog tracks in mud

A pair of domestic dog tracks in mud. The larger front track is on the left. There is a single claw mark visible on the left inner toe. This track could be confused with that of a puma/cougar. The track on the right is the hind track from the same dog.

 
 
dog track in sand
Domestic dog track in sand
 

 

 

Domestic dog front foot. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2007. Domestic dog hind foot. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2007.
The front foot of a domestic dog. You can clearly see how an X can be drawn between the toes and the heel pad. Domestic dog hind foot. Hind feet are smaller than front feet. The front feet have to support more weight, including the head and shoulders of the animal, and thus are bigger.
Thanks to Rufus for letting me take photos of his feet!
   
Domestic dog track in sun. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2007. Domestic dog track in shade. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2007.

A set of dog tracks. The photos show the same set of tracks, in sun and in shade. Sunlight can wash out the tracks, or create shadows that can cause distortion to appear. Sometimes, it's best to look at the tracks when they are in shadow.

   
Domestic dog - golden retriever. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2007. Domestic dog - yellow lab. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2007.
Golden Retriever Yellow Lab
   
Track of a Belgian malinois dog. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.  
Belgian Malinois (Lucy's track)  
Domestic dog foot. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2007.

The parts of a dog's foot. This is the front foot. A is the carpal pad. B is the dewclaw. C is the metacarpal pad, also called the heel pad. D is the toes, also called the digital pads.

 There are five toes on the front foot, including the dewclaw. However, only four usually show up in the tracks. Thanks to Rufus for letting me photograph his foot.

Fat deposits underneath the skin on the dog's pads act as shock absorbers for running, jumping and landing.

 
Dog track in soft mud. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2007.
A deep dog track in soft mud. The claw marks are visible, but distorted due to the consistency of the mud.
 
Dog track in firm mud. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2007.

A dog track in firm mud. Notice the lack of claw marks, although the overall shape and toe orientation clearly identify it as a dog track.

 
Dog track. Copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2005.

Dog track that has aged a bit. You can see the leaves and sticks that have blown into the track. The edges are rounded and no longer sharp and crisp. The claw marks appear to be part of each toe.

 
Dog track in snow. Photo copyright by Kim Wineinger 2007. Dog track in snow. Photo copyright by Kim Wineinger 2007.
Dog track in snow. Notice the claw marks and overall shape of the track. The outer toes are roughly triangular in shape. There is a 'mound' of snow left in the center of the track by the empty space between the animal's toes.
Thanks to Kim Wineinger for the snow tracks!
 
Dog scat. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
A fresh dog scat produced by a Belgian malinois dog fed on kibble.
Thanks to Lucy for donating the scat sample. :)
 
domestic dog track in sand. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
Domestic dog track showing prominent claw marks
 
Left front paw of a domestic dog. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Left front paw of a domestic dog. Notice the alignment of the front toes and compare to the cougar toes alignment on the cougar page. Another thing to note is the shape of the heel pad. Thanks to Dante for letting me photograph his paws!

 
Right hind paw of a domestic dog. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

The hind paw of a domestic dog. (Thanks Dante!) Compare the shape of this heel pad to that of the front track above. Also note that there are three lobes. Some dogs do have three lobes, just like mountain lions do. The alignment of the toes, especially the two front toes, helps identify dog tracks.

 

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Copyright 1997, 2009, 2014. Kim A. Cabrera - Desert Moon Design

Page updated: Saturday, February 15, 2014.