Encountered on a remote beach on the Isle of Man. Don't think it's a small dog (edit, I looked in some books and think it is a dog). As a botanist I need some help!
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I think these prints are defintely dog. Dog prints are easily confusable with Fox prints, but in Foxes the prints of the inner front toes are further forward, allowing you to draw an imaginary line between them and the front edge of the two outer toe pads - see http://www.wildlifeonline.me.uk/images/graphics/paw_prints.gif
These are defiantely dog prints. The triangular heal pad is the give away. You can also just see the distinctive X pattern caused by the void between the four fore pads and the tirangular heal pad. However, this is not clear so I suspect it was a hairy pawed breed.
The 10p indicates a print size of around 6cm. As prints are always larger than the actual paw then we have a paw around 5cm. This indicates a small-medium breed. For example my medium sized lurcher has a 8cm paw and my small collie a 6cm paw.
The gait is the most interesting. All breed of dog have their own gait, however, most walk leaving alternate paw prints slightly off centre. These are clearly in pairs which points to a running dog. However, dogs usually run on their 'toes' not leaving a whole print. Also they dig in their hind or fore paws (depending on the dog) to launch themselves forward.
Another unusual feature of the gait are the middle prints in the photo with the stone. These are way off to the right and twisted in a different plane to the other two. They are identical to the bottom prints in the photo and smaller than the top prints. This indicates they are hind prints as a dog's hind paws are smaller than their front paws. So this dog appears to have jumped, mid stride, from its hind paws landing on its hind paws and twisting its body as it did so to get back on course.
In addition there are drag marks. Normally I would say we had a long tailed dog, but I can not think of a dog I've seen which drags its tail when running, usually they hold them up. Perhaps it was wearing a lead that dragged or was carrying something?
All I can say for certain is we have a small-medium sized dog which did something unusual. Any other ideas how this print pattern could be formed? If you live near a beach and have a dog perhaps you could try to replicate the pattern!
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I live near a beach and have a small dog, so I now feel the need to try and replicate this pattern at the earliest opportunity...although I'm slightly concerned that the general public, as well as my dog, may be concerned for my sanity! Maybe it was carrying a stick that slightly dragged on the ground and made it walk funny?
OU Student BSc Natural Sciences
Good idea about the stick Abbey. However, how would you explain the way the drag line lies between the alternate footprints in the first picture especially? Would it not have to be diagonally under its body? I.e. to the left of its front paws and right of the hind paws.
Good luck with the experiment, and don't worry about the strange looks; your an OU student!
I definately agree that these prints are made by a canine (19years of veterinary nursing have brought me into close contact with many a dogs paws!!)It would be interesting to see the continuation of the tracks - would it reveal that maybe more than one dog was present?? The moisture content of the sand at the time the print was made would also determine the definition/clarity of the print. Just a consideration - dogs with hip dysplasia can be often be observed standing ( hind limbs off centre by as much as 45 degrees in some cases) or moving with an unusual gait. As an added reference my dogs paws(golden retriever, adult male) leave a print of approx 6.5-7cm,therefore i agree this was a relatively small/medium breed canine. Great photos raising an interesting discussion.
Interesting possibility KC. I agree it would be interesting to see what happened beyond the photo. I discarded the possibility of two dogs as the prints look to be the same animal, I guess they could be two dogs of the same breed....
could it be that my pic was too focused onth e prints and not the entire track? It is possible that the 45 degree prints are a result of the same dog crossing its own track i.e. running around ina circle? Both pics show the actual same prints, just with a different camera position....which was by accident. There are other pics as well.
New Flora of the Isle of Man
Very possible Peter, I never thought of something as simple as a dog running in circles! Do you have any pictures which show more of the tracks rather than close ups of the print?
Fantastic...... I love ispot !!!!
Dave. Student FDa Conservation and Countryside Management.
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