Why Should I Care About Extra Fur Between My Dog's Paw Pads?


Some dogs have naturally furry paws that owners and fellow dog lovers will affectionately call “grinch feet.” While furry feet are cute, there is more to them than meets the eye. 

Dogs naturally grow hair between their paw pads as a form of protection. Shorter hair breeds typically will not have much hair between their paw pads, so owners will not likely need to do any trimming. However, for breeds with longer hair, the hair can grow longer than the footpads and drag on the floor. Excess foot fur can trap dirt and snow, matt easily, and make it difficult for dogs to get traction on floor surfaces. It can also hide symptoms of an underlying problem.

Is the Hair Between Your Dog's Paws Hiding Hyperkeratosis?

Have you ever heard the term dog hyperkeratosis? We didn’t...until we started researching more about caring for our dogs’ paws.  

According to, “Canine hyperkeratosis is a skin condition in which excess keratin is produced, in particular in the nose and/or paw pads; causing skin thickening and hardening, sometimes to the point of cracking, thus leading to the emergence of secondary infections.” 

What does hyperkeratosis have to do with the fur between your dog’s paw pads? While hair between your dog’s paw pads won’t cause or lead to canine hyperkeratosis, it might hinder your ability to catch the symptoms. 

A wet dog at the edge of a pond holding its front right paw up

What is Canine Hyperkeratosis? 

Canine hyperkeratosis can be very painful for your dog, making it difficult to walk or stand. When you examine the paws of a dog who has this condition, you’ll understand why. 

Without even knowing much about the condition, it looks uncomfortable: your dog may have dried out, calloused-looking paw pads. The skin may be cracked, which increases the risk of infection. At a certain stage of hyperkeratosis, it even looks like the skin on the paws is coming apart and mimics the look of hair or fur. 

If your dog has a lot of fur between its paw pads, it may be difficult to see that something is wrong. That is why it is recommended that you trim the extra fur between your dog’s paw pads so that you can quickly recognize if your dog is affected by canine hyperkeratosis. Take it a step further and make sure you’re educated on hyperkeratosis so that you can take preventative measures. 

Here are some causes of canine hyperkeratosis:

  • Age: As dogs grow older, their chance of developing canine hyperkeratosis increases.
  • Breed: Some breeds have a genetic makeup that is more prone to hyperkeratosis.
  • Canine Distemper: Schedule an appointment with your trusted veterinarian and begin shots for canine distemper. Treat this like you would with any other vaccination.
  • Zinc Deficiency:  Dermatosis stemming from zinc can open up an arena of issues, including canine hyperkeratosis. 

Other causes of canine hyperkeratosis are rooted in auto-immune issues like leishmaniasis, which is a disease caused by sandfly bites. 

How Is Hyperkeratosis Treated?

Canine Journal reports, “Unfortunately, there is no known cure at this time. However, the skin condition can be managed by softening and then removing the hardened skin on your dog’s paws and nose. Make an appointment with your vet to have this done frequently.” 

If you discover that your dog has canine hyperkeratosis, after grooming your dog and trimming the extra hair between your dog’s paws, you can apply a paw balm. This will help rejuvenate your dog’s paw pads. Using a moisturizing paw balm specifically formulated for dogs will help keep the dry calluses under control by softening the excess keratin. You want to look for natural, dog-safe products and try to limit your dog from licking the area after you apply the paw balm. Dog socks can help with this.

If you suspect that your dog may have canine hyperkeratosis, make an appointment with your vet right away. Since hyperkeratosis is usually a symptom of another underlying problem, you should get a thorough checkup to make sure your dog isn’t sick with something else, too. 

So remember! Keep the extra fur between the paw pads trimmed for better visibility of symptoms and increased chances of handling canine hyperkeratosis effectively once diagnosed. 

closeup photo of a black dog’s front paw

Keeping Dogs Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Proper grooming, such as keeping the hair between your dog’s paws trimmed, is just one way to keep your dog healthy and safe. The training tools you use also matter. We designed our bestselling harnesses to keep your fur baby safe and secure whether you’re walking down the street, driving in your car, or on the trail. 

At Joyride Harness, we believe that dogs are the sunshine in our lives, which is why we have made it our mission to keep dogs happy, healthy, and safe through the products we sell and the information we share through our blog

We also believe in paying it forward, which is why we have our Paw It Forward initiative, where we have made it our mission to enhance the quality of living for our dog friends. A portion of all Joyride Harness sales goes to our dog rescue of the month. 

If you have any questions about a product or have a blog topic suggestion, feel free to reach out to us anytime. We look forward to hearing from you! 

Share this post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.


Headquartered in sunny Los Angeles , CA, we are committed to providing products that will make you and your dog happier and better with each other and out in the world.

learn more