Most people assume that dogs and cats are ambidextrous, that is, they use either paw equally. Did you know that many dogs actually demonstrate a preference for either their right or left paw? While some dogs are ambidextrous, studies have found that approximately 18% of the dog population is left-pawed, and these left-pawed dogs tend to be male. Just like humans, more dogs are right pawed; approximately 57% of dogs are right-pawed, and right-pawed dogs are more likely to be female. The remaining 25% of dogs are ambidextrous, and these dogs are as likely to be male as female.
To find out which paw your own dog prefers, get a Kong or Food Cube that you can fill with treats. Put the toy a couple feet away and see which paw your dog uses to reach for the toy; repeat the test several times. You can also observe your dog to see which paw he or she usually steps forward on first. Your dog might display a marked preference for one paw, or if your dog uses both paws equally, you have an ambidextrous dog.
Interestingly, a study published in Animal Behavior also found that female cats tend to be right pawed, whereas male cats most often have a left paw preference. This study also found that the more complex the task, the more likely the cat was to demonstrate a marked paw preference.
Which paw does your pet prefer?