Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How dogs do the 'dog paddle': An evolutionary look at swimming

Date:
January 5, 2014
Source:
Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB)
Summary:
Most adults remember their first success in learning to swim using the 'dog paddle'. This classic maneuver has been used to describe swimming in armadillos, turtles, even humans -- just about everything except dogs. Biologists set out to understand how real dogs perform the dog paddle.

Swimming Yorkie.
Credit: Image courtesy of Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB)

Most adults remember their first success in learning to swim using the 'dog paddle'. This classic maneuver has been used to describe swimming in armadillos, turtles, even humans -- just about everything except dogs. Dr. Frank Fish, a professor of biology at West Chester University, set out with his colleagues to understand how real dogs perform the dog paddle. Fish has spent most of his career studying the swimming of marine mammals such as whales. But looking at swimming in dogs afforded Fish the opportunity to investigate how swimming in marine mammals may have evolved from walking in their terrestrial ancestors.

Related Articles


For the study, Fish used eight different dogs that spanned six breeds, ranging from the Yorkshire terrier to the Newfoundland. Several dog owners, including Fish himself, volunteered their pets to take part in the study. The trick to analyzing the swimming movements was to find a large area of clear water where the dogs could swim and be recorded, which they found in a rehabilitation pool for horses at the University of Pennsylvania. In the pool, the dogs were encouraged to swim while their legs were filmed with an underwater video camera.

Fish and his colleagues analyzed the videos and found that the dogs were swimming with a gait that was similar to a familiar trot on land. When a dog trots, moving at a pace more brisk than a walk, diagonal pairs of legs move together. In swimming, the dog's legs move in a similar fashion, but even faster than a trot, and the legs move beyond the range of motion for a trot. This means that the swimming dogs are using a basic movement but with some modification. Also, while the movements that make up terrestrial gaits like trotting can vary from one dog breed to another, the dog paddle gait showed very little variation among the different breeds.

While dogs are able to swim, it is not as natural for them as walking and other terrestrial gaits. These differences in coordination provide an opportunity to examine the evolution of swimming in other mammals right from the start. Did the earliest ancestors of swimming mammals fumble as they took to the water? As Fish puts it, "how bad are you at the beginning?" There is strong evidence that the ancestors of the cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) were long-limbed terrestrial quadrupeds, and changes to the musculature and the skeleton eventually led to limbs become more like paddles. Although dogs are not ancestors to cetaceans, they can be used as a model for precursors to early swimming mammals. Fish hopes to unravel the steps that led from a four-legged terrestrial form to an animal like a dolphin, which has highly complex swimming locomotion.

"Dogs are enthusiastic and they like to work," Fish says. Here, the dogs' work is leading Fish to answers for evolutionary questions simply by performing their namesake movement: the dog paddle. Fish presented the findings of his dog study at the 2014 Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) meeting, held in Austin, TX.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB). The original article was written by Medhavi Ambardar. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB). "How dogs do the 'dog paddle': An evolutionary look at swimming." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140105102502.htm>.
Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB). (2014, January 5). How dogs do the 'dog paddle': An evolutionary look at swimming. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140105102502.htm
Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB). "How dogs do the 'dog paddle': An evolutionary look at swimming." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140105102502.htm (accessed December 25, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lemurs Eat Holiday Treats at Brookfield Zoo

Raw: Lemurs Eat Holiday Treats at Brookfield Zoo

AP (Dec. 23, 2014) Ring-tailed lemurs at the Brookfield Zoo share a holiday treat of "cookies" and "milk" to kick off the holiday season. (Dec. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hobbyists Hunt Mountain Lions With Cameras

Hobbyists Hunt Mountain Lions With Cameras

AP (Dec. 23, 2014) Wildlife lovers have a new way to get up close and personal with the elusive creatures of the forest. Hobbyists are hunting mountain lions with photography instead of guns. The APs Raquel Maria Dillon has more. (Dec. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Paper Books Better Than E-Books For Sleep Cycle?

Are Paper Books Better Than E-Books For Sleep Cycle?

Newsy (Dec. 23, 2014) A study from Harvard Medical School shows that electronic readers utilizing LED technology interrupt people's natural sleep cycles. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Scientists in Amsterdam say couples transfer tens of millions of microbes when they kiss, encouraging healthy exposure to bacteria. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins