Utilization of Paw Prints for Species Identification in the Canidae Family


  • Adam W. Stern D.V.M., C.M.I-IV., C.F.C.,

    1. Department of Pathobiology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK.
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    • Present address: Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, University of Illinois, 2001 South Lincoln Ave, Urbana, IL 61803.

  • Catherine G. Lamm D.V.M., D.A.V.C.P.

    1. Oklahoma Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, Stillwater, OK.
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    • Present address: Division of Veterinary Biosciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G61 1QH, Scotland.

Additional information and reprint requests:
Adam W. Stern, D.V.M.
Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
University of Illinois
2001 South Lincoln Ave
Urbana, IL 61803
E-mail: awstern@illinois.edu


Abstract:  In this report, the bodies of six skinned animals were submitted to the Oklahoma Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory for necropsy examination as authorities were concerned these animals were domestic dogs. Given the condition of the animals, identification of the animal species could not be based on traditional physical characteristics such as size, fur characteristics, and ear characteristics. The paw prints from these animals were characterized based on size, heel pad architecture, and claw characteristics. The length of the forepaws measured 3–3.25 in., four toes were observed and only the claws of digits 3 and 4 were identified, and the heel pad had a pronounced three-lobed rear margin. The rear margin of the heel pad of the hind foot was of circular shape with two slightly forward-pointing crescents laterally. Based on the features of the paw print it was determined that the animals necropsied were coyotes.