This question made me wonder, why for example wolves don't suffer from these "paw snowballs"?

(...) but after a few miles on the trails in soft snow, he often develops snowballs between his paw pads - usually one big one right in the middle. (...) I have heard really bad snow buildup can lead to raw/bleeding paw pads.

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  • $\begingroup$ This might get a better answer on biology or maybe even pets? But it's probably due to the type of fur, huskies don't seem to get this either. Most dog breeds are bred now for look. They retain the high fat concentration in their paws to prevent their pads freezing though. $\endgroup$
    – Aravona
    Feb 11, 2016 at 7:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Aravona Yeah, migration to biology might be a good idea... $\endgroup$
    – OddDeer
    Feb 11, 2016 at 8:03
  • $\begingroup$ they have very large paws so that prevents them going so deep, that would help. $\endgroup$
    – rg255
    Feb 11, 2016 at 9:45

1 Answer 1


I couldn't find scientific references, but regular web searches basically indicate that long fur as well as webbed toes promote formation of ice and snowballs in certain breeds.

From Hubpages:

The snow attaches to the dog's long hair, melts from the body heat, and forms ice balls that grow larger, stretching your dog's toes apart and causing cracking, bleeding, and hair pulling. This is painful and distressing for the dog, who may then try to remove them by licking them, which then causes even more ice to build up.

And among the solutions:

Clip the fur between your dog's toes. [J]ust trim off the excess fluff.

A typical breed thriving in icy conditions is the Siberian husky. A comparison to to an airedale terrier breed shows the difference in fur length quite clearly, especially around the areas most suceptible to come in contact with snow (legs & chest areas):

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And both breeds in the snow:

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