There are two schools of thought on the necessity of removing a dog’s dewclaws. One vigorously defends the “need” to remove the dewclaws. The other is equally passionate about leaving the dog intact.
What is a dewclaw?
The dewclaw is considered a vestigial digit, similar to the coccyx (tailbone) on humans.
It served a purpose at one time, but evolution and lifestyle changes have made it basically unnecessary.
A dewclaw is a small, undeveloped “extra” toe located behind the hock, inside the dog’s front leg.
On some dogs, the dewclaw is firmly attached to the bone. On others, it’s a floppy piece of skin with a nail attached.
Why do dogs have them?
Originally, dogs utilized their dewclaws to help them dig, climb, grip while running or turning, gripping food while eating, and to pull themselves out of holes or water. Many working, agility, and sport breeds still use the claws in their “jobs.”
What is a double dewclaw?
A double dewclaw is occasionally found on the hind legs of some dogs. The double claw must be present for standard reasons in certain breeds such as Great Pyrenees, Beaucerons, and Briards.
Should you remove dewclaws
Some argue that the dog’s dewclaws should be removed to prevent injury and infection. Many breeders remove the claws from pups before they open their eyes. Some owners and breeders remove them for safety and health reasons and believe younger dogs feel less pain and will not obsess about their removal.
The claws can be surgically removed when the dogs are older if they cause problems like catching or tearing.
Some people adamantly oppose removing dewclaws; claiming basic care, such as regularly inspecting them for injury and keeping the nails clipped, negates the need to remove them.
Whether to leave or remove your dog’s dewclaws is a personal choice.
It may be the right thing to do health and safety if your dog has a history of having them catch and rip open.
If your dog is not experiencing problems, it might be best to leave the claws alone.
Karen A. Soukiasian is the owner of Good Dog! — Dog Training in St. Augustine, Florida. You can follow Karen on Facebook.