Date of Award


Document Type


Primary Advisor

Jim Carpenter

Secondary Advisor

Rebecca Hunter

Committee Reader

Johnny Needham


In the past few decades, researchers have become increasingly focused on paw preference and behavior and their relationships to one another in domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) and domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus). The purpose of this field of research has largely been improvement of animal welfare. Neuroanatomical asymmetries have been proposed as a potential cause or effect of paw preference, leading to the suggestion that behavior, also influenced by this, might be related to paw preference. This paper reviews the relationship between paw preference and behavior in dogs and cats to assess the tests involved, elucidate potential relationships, examine potential influencing factors, and propose neuroanatomical bases for any relationships. In dogs, several standard assessments are available for evaluating paw preference and behavior, most being stable over time but not always consistent with each other. Relationships exist between canine paw preference and emotional reactivity, cognitive bias, and stress-proneness. Sex and castration status may have an effect. In cats, there is a lack of standard and consistent testing methods, so determining the most reliable tests would be beneficial. Due to a lack of literature investigating the relationship between paw preference and behavior in cats, proposed relationships are speculatory. There could be a relationship between paw preference and emotional reactivity and problem-solving. Sex, but not age past maturation or castration status, has been found to be related to paw preference. Breed and situation novelty may influence paw preference in both species. The globus pallidus pars interna and its related structures within the basal ganglia are implicated as highly important in the relationships between paw preference and behavior.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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