A third of pooches favour left paw when reaching for food, study shows

A third of pooches favour left paw when reaching for food, study shows

April 7, 2021

How dogs are more likely to be southpaws than we are: A third of pooches favour their left paw when reaching for food, study shows

  • A study of 17,901 dogs across the UK found 31 per cent favoured their left paw 
  • 43 per cent favoured their right – much like cartoon superstar Scooby Doo 
  • In comparison, 10 per cent of the human population do not use their right hand

Being man’s best friend for 30,000 years means dogs are bound to have similar traits and habits to their human counterparts.

But when it comes to being left-pawed, they far outstrip us pet owners.

A study of 17,901 dogs across the UK found 31 per cent favoured their left paw when reaching for food, and 43 per cent favoured their right – much like cartoon superstar Scooby Doo.

A study of 17,901 dogs across the UK found 31 per cent favoured their left paw when reaching for food 

In comparison, only 10 per cent of the human population do not use their right hand. Researchers from Lincoln University had dog owners place a treat inside a cardboard or plastic tube and observe how their pet tried to retrieve it.

Some 13,240 dogs were found to have a preferred paw, while the others were classed as ambidextrous/ambiguous. Overall, 43 per cent were right-handed, 31 per cent left-handed and 26 per cent had no preference.

And much like humans, the study – published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science – found that male dogs are also more likely to be left-handed than females are.

Out of those that had a preference, some 60.7 per cent of bitches preferred the right, compared to 56.1% of the males.

Researchers said this suggested that hormones may be playing a part in handedness.

Although the current study did not monitor which of the pets had been neutered, previous research has found that in the UK more female dogs than males are neutered.

The proportion of right-handedness was also higher in the elderly pets compared to the younger ones.

Previous studies have found, for example, that chimpanzees with a stronger hand preference forage more efficiently for termites. And locusts with a stronger leg preference make fewer mistakes when attempting to cross a gap, which suggests they have improved motor control.

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