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15 Dog Breeds That Use Their Paws A Lot (Updated 2023)

Dog Breeds That Use Their Paws A Lot

Dogs use all of their body to communicate with humans. 

But some breeds use their paws for almost anything. 

Be it for attention or play. 

Want to know which breeds they are?

Keep reading to find out:

  • 15 dog breeds that use their paws a lot. 
  • The best defense against scratches when dogs paw at you.
  • Why you shouldn’t ignore when your dog uses their paws too much.
  • PROVEN: A study shows how puppies can learn to use their paw from other dogs.
  • And many, many more…

15 dog breeds that use their paws a lot

#1: German Shorthaired Pointer

GSPs are famous for using their paws. 

It’s basically in their name. 

This breed is part of the hunting dog group. 

They have a high prey drive. And they prefer to chase small prey such as:

  • Birds.
  • Squirrels. 
  • Raccoons.

Fun fact: In the olden days, GSPs worked with falcons during hunts. They identified and caught small game. 

The GCSPA says that the breed has all the qualities of a great hunting dog.

It’s easy to train them how to:

  1. Follow wounded game. 
  2. Track deer or boar.
  3. Hold game on point. 
  4. Flush on command.
  5. Retrieve shot game.
  6. Work in water and in thick bushes.

And all the while, they’re also wonderful, loving companions.

In their line of work, GSPs use their paws a lot. 

They use these to hold down games. 

And in a popular pose, they point to possible prey. 

In this they would:

  • Stiffen up.
  • Lift up one paw. 
  • Point their nose in the game’s direction.

Hunters would know that their GSP was doing what their breed does best. Point. 

#2: English Setter

This pooch is famous for using their paws in 2 different ways. 

Like the German Shorthaired Pointer, the English Setter is a hunting dog.

The ESAA tells us that Setters got their name when they would signal the location of the game. 

They’d lie down or crouch where the animal was. They’d point their paws and body in that direction. 

This was perfect for net hunters. They would throw their nets over the area. 

But as hunting evolved with guns, the dogs learned to “point” like the GSP. 

#3: Boxer

Dogs from this breed live up to their name. 

They even have a sad history with the fighting ring.

But now, these affectionate and energetic dogs are a family favorite.

In the Boxer pose, they stand on their hind legs. And “box” with their front paws. 

This is quite a unique style. Most dogs use their head and mouths when play fighting. 

This breed paws at their playmate. 

If you watch this video, you’ll see that they do it almost all the time:

#4: German Shepherd

You can see German Shepherds in a lot of movies today. 

And why can’t they be stars? GSDs are one of the most intelligent dog breeds in the world. 


  • Focused. 
  • Energetic. 
  • Eager to please. 

Did you know? GSDs have been in the acting business for a long time. 6 of them acted in a 1980s Dutch play. 

Maybe one of the reasons they’re such great actors is that they always use their paws. 

It makes them more expressive in human eyes. 

In fact, many dog parents on the Internet find it endearing when their GSDs paw at them. 

One says that her dog does it when playing tug-of-war. He’d put his paw on her arm. 

Another says that his GSD puts a paw on his arm while he’s driving. 

And one jokes that people can tell her dog is a GSD. Because the pooch would cover her eyes with her paws when at the groomer.

Note: Make sure that your GSD isn’t hurting you when they’re pawing at your skin. Develop a habit to trim their nails on a regular basis. This prevents your dog from scratching you. Or scratching other family members. 

Reading recommendation: 101 German Shepherd Facts And Myths (#9 Is Weird And Fun)

#5: Siberian Husky

Siberian Husky Paw

Huskies are known around the world. 

They’ve featured in movies. (8 Below is a favorite of mine). 

And these dogs are famous for their energy and stamina. 

One such Husky was Togo. He led a team of Huskies. And they traveled many miles to deliver medicine for sick children in their town. 

And VCA says that they even served as World War II search and rescue teams. 

Today they’re a popular breed known for their expressiveness. 

You’ve probably heard of the famous Husky “Aroo-rooo”.

But another endearing way they express themselves is through their paws. 

My friend’s Husky, Yuki uses her paws a lot. 

When she wants some attention, she’d jump around. Then paw at her hoomans. All the while doing her famous vocalizations. 

Huskies also use it when they’re bored. 

This breed is famous for being escape artists

They dig holes under fences to run around. 

And Huskies also use their paws and dig holes to cool down. 

You might also like: 13 Ways To Keep Your Husky Busy And Entertained (How-To)

#6: Shiba Inu

The Shiba Inu originated from Japan. It’s one of the oldest breeds of the country. 

And they’re a breed known for their puffy coat, squinty eyes, and intelligent personality. 

The Japenese also describe the Shiba Inu using 3 adjectives:

  • Alert (soboku).
  • Good-natured (ryosei).
  • Spirited boldness (kaani-i).

Shibas use their paws a lot. 

As hunting dogs for small critters, they trapped prey using their floofy paws. 

And when bored, they’ll find activities to entertain themselves. Such as digging and barking.

They might even use their paws to scratch their nose. And they paw at you when they’re hungry. And want their food bowl filled. 

#7: Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever is the poster child for family dogs. 

They’re dogs who are:

  • Loyal.
  • Loving.
  • Intelligent.

This breed is even famous for having a “soft mouth”. They’re so gentle. They can even take raw eggs into their mouth. And they have so much restraint, the eggs don’t break.

Goldens have very tight bonds with their families. Because of this, they use a variety of communication mediums. 

One of which is their paws. 

They’ll paw at their dog parents when they want to play. Or when they want pets from their hoomans. 

And Goldens are easy to train. 

A handshake trick is easy peasy for them. 

This is why trained Goldens will use their paws as a way to ask for rewards. Or even touch their hoomans in sad times. 

Interesting fact: Dogs can distinguish our different emotions. Particularly angry or happy. 

This study describes how doggos do this. 

Many years of living with humans and dogs developed the ability to read us. 

The study says that dogs use a combination of visual and auditory cues to know what humans feel. 

The researchers took dogs into a room. Before them was a picture of dogs and people making the following faces:

  • Angry.
  • Happy.
  • Playful.
  • Aggressive.

The researchers then played a sound that matched one of the pictures. 

The doggos looked longer at the pictures that corresponded with the sound. 

Fascinating, isn’t it?

#8: Beagle

Beagle Paw

This breed is pretty recognizable. 

Like the Husky, Beagles have shone on the silver screen. And have made their way into the hearts of many people. 

They’re excellent family dogs. As they get along well with children and other dogs. 

As hunting dogs, Beagles do their job in packs. They work together as a team. 

But this also means that they’re working dogs who have a lot of energy

AKC says that without at least an hour of exercise per day, these dogs can act crazy

They can use their paws to dig holes. And escape their fences. 

Their paws are also handy tools to hold on to your favorite shoe while they chew it. 

#9: Irish Terrier

Irish Terriers are a hunting breed. 

They especially love to hunt small game. As a result, they have a very high prey drive. 

And it doesn’t make them fit for households with very young children and other small animals. 

But then, it all comes down to socialization. Expose Irish Terriers to young children and other animals while they’re still young. 

And when they grow up, you won’t have to deal with accidents. 

Such as using their doggy paws to “catch” small animals, like cats or rabbits.

And they’d only use their fluffy paws to get your attention. And play with their ball. 

#10: Bull Terrier

Like the Irish Terrier, this breed is part of the terrier group. 

They’re working dog breeds. With the hunting specialty of small game.

With the early training and socialization, this breed is a great companion dog. 

Although, they’re prone to not get along with other dogs. So it’s best if you only have one in your house. 

Bull Terriers are also independent thinkers. And when they get bored it’s a disaster waiting to happen. 

AKC recommends that they participate in dog sports such as:

  • Agility.
  • Tracking.
  • Obedience. 
  • Coursing ability.

This is a great way to spend their energy. And a way to challenge their intelligence.

#11: American Bulldog

This is a very muscular, hard-working breed. 

American Bulldogs originally had the job of catching hogs and cattle. 

Like many bulldog breeds, some people may hesitate because of how they look. 

But don’t let their faces fool you. 

They’re typically loving to their families. And very sociable towards other people and animals. 

This is why they thrived as farm dogs.

But not just that. They love kids and are very protective of their hoomans. This is why American Bulldogs also make great guard dogs for the house. 

They also have some terrier DNA in them. And this makes them breeds who use their paws a lot. 

Yes, they’re big and muscular. But they’re also fun-loving. 

And they won’t hesitate to play ball with their hoomans. Or solve a puzzle toy using their paws.

#12: Pug

Pug Paw

Pugs have roots as companions of royalty.

They got popular in Victorian England. And their smushed faces have been in people’s hearts and homes ever since. 

People find their antics adorable. And it’s cuter than anything else. Because they use their faces and their paws.

One of my friends has a 3-year old Pug named Gigi. She has a very funny way of asking for food. 

I think it’s important to note that she knows that her hoomans will not give her food. But she does it anyway. 

The minute her family sits at the dinner table, Gigi immediately follows. 

And then she sits near my friend’s dad. Because Gigi knows that he’s the one most likely to give her food. 

Then she’d put her paw on his knee and whine softly.

If that doesn’t work, then Gigi would stand up and paw at his legs. 

And when she doesn’t get her way, she’d lie down and cover her face with her paws. 

You might also be interested in: 7 Dog Breeds That Are Obsessed With Food

#13: Border Collie

Most dog parents I know think that their dog’s the smartest pooch in the world. 

Well, hold your horses!

They’ve got nothing on the Border Collie. 

According to PetMD, this breed is so intelligent. That they even have the ability to reason. 

They make use of their whole body to communicate with their hoomans. 

Especially their paws. 

One dog parent on the Internet who has a Border Collie shared this story: 

Her Collie, let’s call him Woobie. He would try his best to let them know he wanted something. 

Woobie would sit in front of them. And in a very delicate way, put his paw on top of their foot. 

Then he’d lift up his head slowly and look his parents in the eye

#14: Dachshund

Speaking of dogs who use their paws a lot, I can’t forget about the wiener dogs. 

Like most dogs in this article, Dachshunds had origins as hunting dogs. 

Their very name means “Badger hound”. And 1600s Germany, they helped farmers get rid of small animal pests.

Their long and slim bodies allowed them to fit into badger holes. And flush them out. 

As hunter dogs, they have lots of energy. 

And they’re very fond of doing the following:

  • Digging.
  • Hunting.
  • Playing catch.
  • Chasing game. 
  • Tracking by scent. 

Dachshunds may like to do all these activities. But they like being inside the house. 

You’ll often see them scratching their beds. Or scratching the couch. And this is a reflection of what they love to do. 

#15: Labrador Retriever

According to Hill’s, the Labrador was a dog bred to work in water hunting. 

But they’re also popular as family dogs. 

They’re outgoing and friendly. 

Labs are also loyal and protective of their hoomans.

Today, they’re still working dogs. 

And they have jobs as:

  • Scent dogs.
  • Guide dogs. 
  • Performance dogs.
  • Hunting companions.
  • Search and rescue canines.

In their work, they often use their paws to point or dig at stuff. 

They’re also easy to train. So Labs can learn how to shake hands as a trick. 

And even use them as tools to communicate. 

People also ask:

Why does my dog use his paws so much?

Your dog uses his paws so much as a way to communicate. It’s a way of getting your attention. Other reasons include:

  • Offering comfort.
  • Expressing affection.
  • Signaling start of playtime.
  • Letting you know they’re hungry. 
  • Wanting comforting pets from you. 

It could also be that they know pawing at you gets your attention. 

Tips for correcting dogs pawing for attention

So if they do this for attention, here are some things that you can do:

Tip 1: When your dog starts pawing at you, don’t pay attention to them.

Tip 2: Get up and leave the room. This lets them know that when they do this, the giver of attention is going away.

Tip 3: When they do it, redirect their attention. Let them sit and play with a toy. Or direct them to their bed with a toy. 

“How do dogs use pawing to signal pain?”

But one alarming reason why they do this is they’re telling you something’s wrong. 

It could be that your pooch doesn’t feel great. Or they’re hurt.

Check your dog if they whine or limp while they’re pawing at you.

Vet Specialists lists other signs that they’re in pain:

  • Shaking.
  • Lameness.
  • Low posture.
  • Excessive licking.
  • Reluctance to play.

Most dogs don’t show their pain right away. This is a trait left over from their wild ancestors. 

When dogs showed a small hint of an injury, even a slight limp. This could signal other predators that they’re weak. 

Warning: Be careful when touching your dog as you check them. They might show aggression. And/or they might bite you.

Do some dogs use their paws more than others?

Some dogs use their paws more than others. This happens because of the nature of their breed. 

For example, dogs in these groups:

  • Terriers.
  • Hunters.
  • Pointers.
  • Retrievers.

They tend to use their paws more. This is an extension of their senses. And a way of communicating. 

Some dogs learn it through looking at other dogs or people. 

For example, they see trained dogs doing handshakes. And they see the reaction people have to their trick. 

They know it can get a laugh from their hooman. So they start doing it. 

And dogs can actually imitate what they see. Even when they’re still puppies. 

The following study confirms this. 

The researchers had young puppies solve a food puzzle. 

But first, they had others do it in front of the puppies:

  • People. 
  • Other dogs. 
  • The mother dog.

The results showed that they learned by watching dogs and people doing it. But mostly, from watching other dogs solve the food puzzle. 

This explains how dogs can learn even without humans teaching it to them. 

And it also emphasizes the importance of socializing young puppies with older dogs. This can help them learn the proper manners for dogs.