3D-Printed Prosthetic Legs Give Dog With Deformed Paws The Chance To Run


Derby is an adorable Husky mix dog born with deformed front paws. His deformity made it very difficult for him to get around. He tried his best though, but he often ended up with scratches and cuts from his efforts. Now, thanks to 3D-printer technologies and one woman with a soft spot for cute dogs, Derby finally gets to enjoy running around.

Derby’s story is full of tiny miracles. He started off at a shelter where he would soon be euthanized if he were not adopted. Just in time he was picked up by no-kill shelter, Peace and Paws. Tara Anderson, the director and CJP product manager at 3D Systems, had recently adopted a dog from this same shelter. Derby’s chance meeting with Tara Anderson would grant him the biggest blessing of all, the chance to run again.


Through Tara’s interactions with Peace and Paws she learned about Derby. She recalls looking at his photos and reading his story over and over, crying every single time. She just knew she had to do something to help him, and so she called up the shelter and declared she would take Derby in and become his foster mom.


Getting to know Derby made Tara want to help him out even more, and so she purchased him a cart to get around on. Derby loved the added mobility the cart provided him, but Tara knew there had to be a better option, something that allowed him to run and play more naturally.


This got Tara thinking about how her own line of work could change Derby’s life. Tara works for 3D Systems, a US-based company that creates 3D-printed products. And so the idea for two front legs shaped like the legs on a rocking chair were fashioned and printed, changing Derby’s life forever.

With his new legs strapped on and ready to go, Derby loves to run and can outpace just about anyone.



Without 3D printing technologies, Derby’s new legs would never be so within reach. Since 3D printing can be designed directly on the computer, measurements can be exact and a lot of costly trial and error is prevented.

The team started off by taking CT scans of Derby’s elbows in order to design his custom prosthetic legs. Using multiple forms of 3D technologies allowed the team to truly modify the prosthetic to fit Derby quickly and easily. Instead of having to draw out a model and then sculpt and mold it together, they simply hit print on the computer.



Tara thought of so many details, such as the loop detailing which keeps Derby from digging them into the dirt.

At first Derby’s prosthetics were fit low to the ground, so that he didn’t have to deal with such a drastic change all at once. As he gets more and more comfortable in his new prosthetics they are slowly raised higher in order to give him a more natural, upright stance.


Today, Derby happily lives with Don and Sherry Portanova. The two, featured in the video below, are overjoyed that their dog has the chance to run, and they love seeing how happy it makes Derby. The very first time he was put on the prosthetics he ran right away, causing Don and Sherry quite the surprise over how quickly he was able to catch on and enjoy his new favorite accessories.


Today Derby runs with Sherry and Don on a daily basis, traveling between 2 and 3 miles without any troubles on his new prosthetics.

Watch how happy Derby is with his new prosthetic paws in this video:

Photo Credits: Facebookpeaceandpaws.org3dsystems.com