Why Do Some Dogs Have Dew Claws

It’s common to compare the front dewclaw of a dog to the human thumb. Even if the dewclaw does not have all of the advantages of the human thumb, it is still not opposable! It still serves a crucial function.

Five tendons are connected to the front dewclaw, which is important when a dog is moving, helps a dog grasp and control anything they are chewing on, and even helps some dogs get out of the water.

When a dog is in a gallop or canter, the dewclaw touches the ground, stabilizing the carpus (the wrist) of the lead leg. When dogs turn, the dewclaw digs into the ground to support the limb. For this reason, having front dewclaws can be advantageous for dogs who participate in agility or other dog sports.

Only a few breeds of animals have rear dewclaws, which are uncommon and don’t appear to have any purpose. There are even two back dewclaws in some breeds! Frequently, the skin is the only thing holding the rear dewclaws to the body.

Which dog breeds have dew claws?

Though the analogy between dewclaws and thumbs isn’t quite correct, it’s not far off. Dew claws on dogs may not be as flexible and functional as opposable human thumbs, but they can still be useful.

Dogs only truly use the four front-facing nails on each of their front paws, which have five digits. The fifth toe, or dewclaw, is raised off the bottom of the foot and does not make contact with the ground while walking.


All dogs have front dew claws, but only a few breeds, like the Great Pyrenees or Briard, also have dew claws on their hind legs. Despite being a breed requirement, they are frequently seen as “abnormal on other dogs.”

The hind dew claws may appear to be weakly linked and rather floppy on the skin, in contrast to the front dew claws, which are securely joined by ligaments and bones. In addition, the hindleg dew claws are completely useless, in contrast to the front dew laws.

The Point of Dew Claws

The dewclaws aid in preserving stability and balance. This may be seen when your dog climbs or walks on rocky ground. When getting out of the water, dewclaws are extremely useful.

Dewclaws can also assist dogs in holding or grasping an object they are eating, such as a mouthwatering treat or a chew item. They can assist a dog with face or head grooming.

The Dangers of Dew Claws

If ever trapped on something, hind dewclaws are more likely to suffer harm. Some breeders will trim a pup’s rear dewclaws at a young age, possibly sparing them from a later unpleasant and bloody occurrence. Usually, these puppies heal more quickly than adult dogs who get accidental wounds.

Nevertheless, elective surgical declaw removal is not frequently performed unless it is thought to be the healthiest course of action for dogs.

What Can You Do?

Many dogs walk on concrete or asphalt every day, cutting their nails down. But because they don’t touch the ground, the dewclaws don’t deteriorate. As a result, regular examinations and dewclaw cutting may be required for your dog’s health. Dew claws can become entirely or partially removed if they grow too long and grab on objects. They are also divideable in half.

Please let us know if your dog experiences this. Depending on the circumstance, they can require removal, clipping, treatment, or even antibiotics.

Do puppies always have dew claws?

The dewclaw is a toenail that all dogs are born with on the inside of their front legs. The toes on a dog’s foot that are in contact with the ground resemble the pinky, ring, middle, and index fingers, while the dewclaws resemble the thumb. You should be able to slightly move the dewclaw forward and backward while feeling the nail, and you should be able to feel the tendons that attach the nail to the leg. These tendons indicate that the front dewclaw has a purpose and that removing it could have long-lasting effects on our dogs.

Breeds like the Great Pyrenees, Saint Bernards, and Briards have a tendency to be born with double dewclaws on the back leg or possibly all four legs. Some people think that the Great Pyrenees’ hind dewclaws were intentionally developed into the breed to increase stability when working in snowy and rocky terrain. However, back dewclaws are uncommon and frequently non-functional in most breeds, which means that there is no tendon attached. Since the rear dewclaws are frequently simply connected by skin, you will be able to move the nail more freely when feeling them.

The front dewclaw may not seem to be working when the dog is standing since it doesn’t make touch with the ground, but when the dog is moving, the dewclaw appears to be working.

Breeders remove dew claws for what reason?

Front dewclaws are common in dogs. Your dog probably had its dewclaw removed if you can’t see it on its front paws. Dewclaws are removed from a lot of hunting breeds to keep them from tripping and getting hurt while scurrying through dense vegetation and challenging terrain. Like front dewclaws, rear dewclaws are inherited. Breeds including the Great Pyrenees, St. Bernard, Icelandic Sheepdogs, Briard, and a few more are known to exhibit them.

For some dog breeds, it has become traditional to show them without their front dewclaws. Dewclaws are a feature of several breed standards and a requirement in the show ring, though. A unusual Spitz breed known as the Norwegian Lundehund has SIX toes on each of its four feet. They were able to climb rocky ledges easier while they were hunting Puffin birds in the past thanks to their additional claws. Another illustration is the Great Pyrenees, which is required to have twin dewclaws on each of its hind legs in addition to a dewclaw on each of its front legs.

Should I trim my dog’s dew claws?

Front dewclaws are crucial for a reason, so they shouldn’t be removed unless absolutely necessary. It is possible for a dog’s dewclaw to become seriously damaged or to contract a disease (such as a malignant tumor), in which case it would be better for the dog to have it removed. But because these issues are so rare, it is ineffective to remove healthy front dewclaws to guard against them.

In order to avoid damage, vets more frequently remove loosely attached double or rear dewclaws. The value of these procedures is debatable because there is still a low real occurrence of these kinds of accidents. Usually, the procedure is scheduled concurrently with the dog’s spaying or neutering (while it is anesthetized).

Dewclaws are frequently removed from some dog breeds in order to “enhance their appearance in the show ring. If you decide to have this surgery done, it should only be done after a local anesthetic has been used to numb the area and when the puppy is younger than five days old (e.g., EMLA cream).

Keep in mind that other breeds, notably Great Pyrenees, are ineligible to compete in shows if their dewclaws have been removed.

What’s up with my dog’s lack of rear dew claws?

This is a complex subject that can only be resolved by observing a dog. Dewclaws can differ from breed to breed and dog to dog because they are inherited. While some dogs only have one or the other, others have both the front and rear dewclaws. Other dogs might only have a tiny patch of skin sticking out and no nails at all.

As a result, you cannot be sure that the breed you choose will have no dewclaws at all. Ask about the puppy and whether it has dewclaws if you are buying a dog from a breeder. They probably will.

Do dewclaws need to be used?

Dewclaw injuries do not happen frequently in pet dogs, though; rather, working dogs who sprint across difficult terrain tend to experience them more frequently. “Typically, puppies don’t need to have their dewclaws removed for medical reasons. In fact, dewclaws are useful because they can increase grip on particular surfaces and aid to stabilize the carpal (wrist) joint when a dog applies pressure to its front paws.”

Because the bones have not fully formed and the dewclaw can be easily snipped off by a veterinarian, dewclaw removal in puppies is quite straightforward. “Despite the fact that this is unneeded and painful for the puppy, it happens swiftly and heals well. Adult dewclaw removal necessitates a surgical amputation done while sedated. The veterinarian has to carefully separate bone, nerve, muscle, and blood arteries, so “says Stregowski. “Recovery is longer toodogs need to wear an e-collar and must restrict their exercise.”

Dogs’ adult dewclaws are rarely removed, Marks continues. When there is a permanent damage, tumor, fracture, or infection that won’t heal, “we do it when it’s the last alternative we have left.”

Why is it that my dog is missing front dew claws?

According to Dogster, all dogs are born with front dewclaws. If your dog’s front dewclaws are absent, they were probably removed when he was a puppy by his breeder. Dewclaws usually don’t bother most dogs, though they can occasionally be utilized by a dog to touch his eyes or other portions of his face while cleaning.

Does removing a dew claw hurt?

Describe the dewclaw. It’s the tiny fingerlike protrusion on your dog’s (or cat’s) inner front leg that resembles our thumb in some ways.

Dewclaws serve a purpose, despite not being as useful to dogs as a thumb is to people.

Some people believe that dewclaws should be removed from dogs. Dewclaw removal, however, is only necessary in cases of serious illness or injury.

Why Is It Called a Dewclaw?

Consider a blade of grass that has dew drips on it. The term “dewclaw” refers to the claw higher up on the thigh that catches the dew on the top of the grass blades when a dog prances around the field.

Front and Rear Dewclaws

  • All dogs are born with a dewclaw on each of their front legs.
  • Some dogs are born with one, two, or even two sets of dewclaws on their back legs.

Except in a select breeds, such as the Briard or Great Pyrenees, where single or double well-developed rear dewclaws represent a breed characteristic, rear dewclaws are generally regarded as an abnormality. These shouldn’t be taken away.

Do Dewclaws Have a Purpose?

Dogs with front dewclaws can hold objects with their forelegs, like a toy, a ball, or food. Dogs can grab objects without a dewclaw, although it is a useful feature for grasping.

Dewclaws most likely assist in stabilizing the carpus (ankle), which is perhaps more significant:

  • Dewclaw retention aids agility dogs in making tight turns and probably reduces arthritis in the carpal joint as they age.
  • In racing and coursing breeds, the dewclaw actually touches the ground during tight turns.
  • Climbing breeds like the Saint Bernard and Great Pyrenees are thought to benefit from having rear dewclaws because they aid in navigating difficult terrain.

However, a posterior dewclaw that hangs loosely usually serves no benefit. Dewclaw removal is definitely advantageous in these circumstances because they risk becoming hurt if they get caught.

Should Dewclaws Be Removed?

Unless there is a sick dewclaw or dewclaw injury, there is no legitimate medical cause to remove the front dewclaw or even the well-developed rear dewclaws.

Dewclaws on the front of a dog are a typical anatomical feature. They actually create a joint with the carpus since they are connected to it by a different metacarpal bone.

The four toes that touch the ground also have their own nerve, blood, muscles, and tendons, exactly as these front dewclaws.

Many individuals picked up the belief that dewclaws should be removed from the practice of showing some breeds of dogs at dog shows without their dewclaws. It was also believed that hunting breeds would suffer dewclaw damage from their work, necessitating removal.

However, many vets no longer recommend dewclaw removal in the last 1020 years, despite the fact that certain breeders still do.

It’s now an ethical dilemma for many veterinarians:

  • Why take away bodily components that are not necessary?
  • Why remove front dewclaws when they probably have a purpose and are rarely hurt?

Dr. Emma Goodman Milne, BVSc, MRCVS, for instance, has expressed her regret that veterinarians “may feel under pressure to conduct procedures they feel uncomfortable with solely because a customer thinks the legislation authorizes it. Regardless of whether the law permits it or not, she declared that she “will continue to exercise my right not to do any unneeded mutilations.”

The American Kennel Club (AKC) maintains no dog will be disqualified without these modifications, even though it approves of dewclaw removal in some breeds just like it allows tail docking and ear clipping.

The American Kennel Club acknowledges that certain breed standards’ descriptions of ear clipping, tail docking, and dewclaw removal as permissible methods essential to defining and maintaining the breed’s character and/or increasing good health are true. Careful veterinary attention must be given.

AKC regulations do forbid altering one’s look “unless as stipulated in the breed standard.” If a breed standard calls for the removal of the dewclaws, the ears may be cropped. None of these modifications are prohibited by any AKC breed standard.

Front Dewclaw Removal

Dewclaw removal should be performed by the time the puppy is three days old, if at all possible.

Although it’s a quick surgery that takes less than a minute, dewclaw removal in a neonate is done without general anesthesia, and newborn puppies feel discomfort.

Dew claws are present in golden retrievers?

Puppies can usually be picked up between 10 1/2 and 11 weeks old for most litters. In some litters, we may occasionally retain a few puppies until they are 12 1/2 weeks old. Information on specific litters will be included in our puppy questionnaire. For more information, visit our page on puppy pickup.

Can we meet you, your dogs, and the puppies at your home?

Yes, even though it isn’t necessary, we would love to meet any new puppy owners (only serious queries interested in litters that are advertised on our website), once they’ve filled out the puppy questionnaire, called us on the phone, and been given the go-ahead. All visits must be scheduled in advance, and there are some limitations. Our Puppy Visitation page has more information.

What kind of food do you recommend?

My first piece of advice is to feed a diet that is either raw or well-balanced and home-cooked. However, since the majority of Americans lead highly busy lives, I’ve put together a food page with details on what we advise feeding dry dog food.

Will you place 2 puppies from the same litter with one family?

No, for a number of causes. Most families lack the time to spend individually with each puppy. Additionally, most lack a setup that enables keeping the puppies apart for a sufficient amount of time. Without a LOT of one-on-one time and space, two puppies will likely become overly attached to one another. It can occasionally lead to separation anxiety. Sometimes it leads to too much “doggy bonding,” where puppies form stronger bonds with one another than with their parents.

It is a good idea to have two dogs. But we advise delaying until the first dog has been around for at least a year.

Will you sell with full registration?

No, we only sell our puppies as pets with restricted AKC registration. All AKC shows, excluding conformation shows, such as obedience, rally, agility, etc., are open to participation with limited registration. Only dogs with complete registration are permitted to breed and produce offspring with registration documents. We won’t sell to anyone who wants to breed animals.

Do your dogs have any type of allergy?

No, neither our dogs nor any of the studs we use—with the exception of our Jessie—have ever displayed any symptoms of allergies or another kind of skin disease. Jessie doesn’t have any additional skin issues or allergies, just a very minor case of ichthyosis. None of our other dogs have any kind of skin issues whatsoever, despite spending a lot of time in the water throughout the summer. Although there is a genetic component to skin problems and allergies, a nutritious diet is also crucial to a dog’s skin and coat health.

I read that you require girl puppies to not be spayed until they are over a year old. How do I manage having a girl in season?

Since there will only be one season, having a daughter in season is considerably simpler than most people think. Your dog will live longer and have a lower risk of developing cancer and hip dysplasia as a result.

Most Goldens with European ancestry begin menstruating between the ages of 10 and 15 months. A little bloody discharge is the first indication of heat. Most dogs will groom themselves. Others might leave a few blood specks. It’s simple to find dog diapers, and they shield floors. Even if you don’t notice that your dog is in season until it’s too late, the blood won’t stain tile or hardwood after being left for a whole day. The productive phase won’t arrive for at least 5 to 6 days after the heat period, which will last for roughly 2 1/2 to 3 weeks (usually closer to 10-12 days). You must keep your dog inside at all times throughout the fertile season, unless you are out with her. We consider this to be a brief annoyance that lasts 18 to 21 days and a modest price to pay for a dog’s longer, healthier life.

What about an unneutered boy? I’ve heard that they are more prone to fight and have behavior problems?

Well-bred Golden retrievers are not inherently aggressive animals. I take my guys out with other dogs quite a bit, and occasionally there are seasonally-dressed girls at shows. Other unneutered boys have occasionally hissed at my sons, but they have never reacted. They don’t run away either; they simply walk away. I’ve never had any issues with it at all.

The absence of testosterone will have an impact on boys who are neutered before their growth plates close, which occurs at around 18 months. They won’t gain as much weight as they should genetically, and their skulls won’t develop as much as those of unneutered dogs. The true reason we make families wait, however, has little to do with appearances. The advantages to health include a higher life expectancy, a lower risk of hip dysplasia, and a lower risk of cancer.

How long is the wait for a Summer Brook puppy?

Before breeding a litter, we no longer reserve puppies months in advance. Prior to 2017, families would frequently wait for more than a year. The timing would occasionally become unfavorable for the family during that time due to changes in family circumstances, or our girl would occasionally arrive in season either very early or very late. Sometimes there aren’t enough puppies because litters are too tiny. Sometimes, families don’t get the girl and boy puppy mix they were hoping for. Additionally, not all breedings succeed at all. Long waits are unavoidable due to too many uncertainties.

Do you remove dew claws on your puppies?

We don’t, sorry. Dew claws are currently up for dispute as to whether they should be removed at 2 to 3 days of age or not. Those who want them gone contend that they are pointless and just serve as a way to get caught and taken advantage of.

Specialists in veterinary orthopedic sports, however, assert that they do serve a purpose. Dew claws touch the ground when dogs are galloping and are particularly helpful when executing fast spins where they are used to prevent torsion (twisting). A study also revealed that dogs without dew claws are nearly solely affected by arthritis in the carpal joint. The majority of dew claw injuries also involve the back dew claws or dew claws with very long nails. There are no rear dew claws on golden retrievers. Any nail that is not maintained clipped can cause injury. Dew claws are not removed in Europe. We believe it is preferable to leave them alone because God put them there.

Do you microchip your puppies?

We don’t microchip our puppies, so we advise you to hold off till they’ve mostly completed developing (at least 6 months). Young children are far more likely to have microchip migration. Any person who scans your dog for a microchip is likely to miss it if it gets lost and the microchip has moved down beneath their neck, as it did with one of my imports.