Do animals have a 'handedness' (i.e. right-pawed)?

I was wondering if four legged animals show a strong preference for their right or lieft side as humans do (being right or left handed)?

I was playing with my dog, having her do tricks and so on and it occurred to me that she seems to strongly favor her left paw. Just as humans she will use both paws but if I ask her to ‘shake’ she almost invariably offers her left paw. When she is playing and pawing at me (the ‘I want’ gesture dogs do) far more often than not it is her left paw she is waving about. One time playing she even clocked me upside the head with a helluva left to my head (she weighs about 100 pounds but I was still shocked at the force of that hit…FTR she didn’t really mean to hit me like that).

So, is my dog a lefty? If animals do have a preference for a side do they, as a group, tend to one side like humans have more righties than lefties? Will this change between species?

A search on “animal handedness” turned up this thread and 3 others that might be useful:

left-handed animals

Hope this helps.

Thanks KneadToKnow. It occured to me just after finishing typing my post that someone had probably already asked this before but I figured I went to the minute worth of trouble to type the thing I’d just post anyway. You’d think I’d know better by now.

Ahh well…thanks again.

Hah, KneadToKnow! My cite is better than your cite!

For what it’s worth, by the way, I also happen to know that most elephants are left-tusked.

Ayesha And I have a pet Cockatiel who uses her claws like hands and 9 out of 10 times she will use her right claw to do the grasping or holding while standing on her left claw.
When climbing or steping up from one perch to another she tends to use the right claw to grasp the new perch or foothold.

My sorrow darkens the skies, for I have been out-cited.


I know that bulls have a “hornedness” and one of the first things the crew at a bullfight try to work out is which horn the bull “hooks” with because it’s the one to avoid.

The single most important distinction between silkworms, and any other caterpillar of the same general genus is that the domestic silk worm twirls always in the same direction as it makes its cocoon. Because of this characteristic, the cocoon can be unwound into a single thread over a mile in length. There are no wild silk worms. The closest relatives, though, are not anywhere near as considerate of human textile needs.

Does that count as “Handedness?”


Yeah, anecdotally, again, our parrot will use his right foot for most things and tends to drop things he holds in his left more often by accident.

My cat has a wicked left hook, and his L-R-L combinations do seem to lose their sting with the interim punch. When he smacks my ankles as I walk past, it more often the left paw with which he attempts homicide. I bought a cat food container that requires opposable thumbs to open, just to forestall the inevitable. When his desire to kill overrides his desire to eat, I’m a goner. The cops don’t believe me. You are my only witnesses.