Is Your Dog Left or Right Handed?

When someone reaches out to shake your hand you instinctively offer your dominant hand. When you go to write a note, you use your dominant hand to pick up the pen. Humans know if they are right handed or left handed, but have you ever noticed whether your dog has a dominant paw? The poodles each have a tendency to use one paw primarily over the other, which got me thinking about whether dogs can in fact have a dominant paw. Studies show that they can indeed! Unlike humans who tend to be 90% right handed and only 10% left handed, dogs are much closer to an even 50/50 split. A small  number are ambidextrous. The results for cats are similar too. To learn more, check out This Washington Post Article or This Mental Floss Article. There are many other resources on the web as well if you're interested.

So, how do you tell whether your dog is a lefty or a righty? Do they "shake" a paw, if so which paw do they use? When trying to maneuver a toy on the floor, which paw do they use? If your dog has an itchy eye, which paw do they use to wipe their face?

Here are the results from this household...

D'Art is a lefty. He shakes with his left paw exclusively.

Teddy is right handed, but occasionally he reaches for a toy with his he may be ambidextrous (or perhaps he's just lazy and uses whichever paw is closer to the toy!)

Like D'Art, Luna is left handed too! She recently learned "shake" and chooses her left paw every time. This goes to show that her right handed humans didn't influence her at all!

How about your pup, which dominant paw do they use?


  1. If treats are involved, Sam is ambidextrous! Just so long as it makes it in his mouth. BOL. And he'd rather set his fur on fire than shake anyone's hand!
    P.S. Luna is simply stunning and looks like she's settling in nicely. So happy for your little pack (and quite jealous too). I've been looking for a baby sister or brother for Sam to rescue. ღ

    1. Sam, I'll have to remember should we ever meet not to ask you to shake a paw! And I'll be sure to bring lots of treats! I hope you do find a brother or sister to add to the family. I always keep one eye open on petfinder!

  2. I seem to remember Cole was right pawed. When attacking a toy on the floor that was trying to get away, it was his right. He knew how to high five and shake with both paws. When he tried to paw at our chairs to get attention it was his right.

  3. Luke is definitely right pawed - he uses the right for his "high five" though he will use the left too when prompted. He also spins to the right meaning he starts off that paw. The girls don't do any of those tricks, so I'm not sure with them, I'll have to be more observant!


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