Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Pet Care

What Are Dewclaws in Dogs? Unraveling the Mystery

dewclaws in dogs

What Are Dewclaws in Dogs? Unraveling the Mystery


If you’ve ever looked closely at your furry friend’s paws, you might have noticed a little extra something – a small, seemingly vestigial digit known as a dewclaw.

Dewclaws in dogs have been a subject of curiosity and confusion for pet owners. What are they, and do they serve any purpose?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the world of dewclaws, answering your burning questions and shedding light on this intriguing aspect of canine anatomy.

The Basics: What Exactly Are Dewclaws?

Dewclaws in dogs might seem like a bit of a mystery if you’re not familiar with them. These small, seemingly extra toes can pique your curiosity.

dewclaws in dogs

What are they, and what purpose do they serve? In this section, we’ll dive into the basics to demystify dewclaws and help you understand their role in your furry friend’s anatomy.

The Dewclaw Definition

To put it simply, a dewclaw is a small, almost thumb-like digit found on a dog’s leg, a little way above the paw.

Unlike the primary toes, which we commonly refer to as “digits,” dewclaws don’t make contact with the ground when your dog walks. Instead, they are positioned higher up on the leg, often resembling a tiny, separate toe.

Location, Location, Location

Dewclaws can be found on your dog’s legs, but their location might vary. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Front Legs: Some dogs have dewclaws on their front legs. These front dewclaws are typically more noticeable, and you might be more familiar with them.
  • Hind Legs: In other dogs, you might find dewclaws on the hind legs. These rear dewclaws are less common but can still be present.
  • Both Front and Hind Legs: Certain dogs have dewclaws on all four legs, meaning they sport a full set.
READ ALSO:  A Complete Guide To The Black Goldendoodle - What You Should Know!

The Dewclaw Debate: Function or Folly?

Dewclaws in dogs have long been a subject of debate among pet owners, breeders, and veterinarians. Are they functionally important or merely vestiges of evolution?

dewclaws in dogs

In this section, we’ll delve into the heart of the matter, exploring the arguments on both sides of the dewclaw debate to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of this intriguing topic.

The Vestigial Argument

One school of thought posits that dewclaws are essentially vestiges of evolutionary history, remnants of the time when dogs’ ancestors had more digits on their limbs.

Over millennia, as dogs evolved, these extra digits became less functional but persisted in some dogs due to genetic inheritance. According to this perspective, dewclaws are functionally obsolete in modern dogs.

Lack of Contact with the Ground

A primary argument in favor of the vestigial viewpoint is that dewclaws don’t make contact with the ground when a dog walks.

Unlike the primary digits that play a crucial role in walking and running, dewclaws remain elevated, seemingly having no direct function in locomotion.

Minimal Use in Everyday Activities

Supporters of the vestigial argument also point out that dewclaws have limited utility in a dog’s everyday activities.

Dogs primarily rely on their primary toes for tasks like gripping objects or navigating terrain, leaving dewclaws with little to no purpose in these scenarios.

The Function Argument

Conversely, proponents of the function argument assert that dewclaws can indeed serve a purpose, albeit not in the same manner as the primary toes.

They argue that dewclaws may have functional significance, particularly in certain situations.

Stability and Grip

One key aspect of the function argument is that dewclaws can provide dogs with added stability when navigating rough or uneven terrain.

Think of dewclaws as tiny, extra fingers that can help with balance and grip, especially in challenging conditions.

Grasping Objects

Some dogs may use their dewclaws to grasp objects, much like humans use their thumbs. This can be particularly noticeable when a dog is holding onto a toy, bone, or even when climbing.

Breed-Specific Variation

It’s important to acknowledge that the presence and functionality of dewclaws can vary among dog breeds.

In some breeds, dewclaws are more firmly attached to the leg and may have a more apparent role in a dog’s activities. In contrast, other breeds may have loosely attached dewclaws that are less functional.

READ ALSO:  The Loyal And Playful Companion: Discovering The Tibetan Spaniel Breed

The Verdict

So, where does this debate leave us? The answer is that it depends. The significance of dewclaws varies not only from dog to dog but also from breed to breed.

Some dogs may indeed benefit from having dewclaws, while in others, they may serve a more vestigial role.

When it comes to dewclaws, the key takeaway is that they are an intriguing aspect of canine anatomy.

Whether they have a significant function in your dog’s life or are simply a unique part of their paws, dewclaws add to the diversity and wonder of our four-legged friends.

In the next section, we’ll explore a practical consideration related to dewclaws: the decision of whether to remove them or leave them intact, and the factors that play into this choice.

Dewclaws: To Remove or Not to Remove?

One of the decisions that pet owners often face is whether to remove their dog’s dewclaws or leave them intact. This choice can be influenced by various factors, including breed standards and concerns about potential injuries.

In this section, we’ll delve into the considerations surrounding dewclaw removal to help you make an informed decision for your furry companion.

Reasons for Dewclaw Removal

  • Injury Prevention: Dewclaws, especially if they are loosely attached, can be vulnerable to injury. Dogs can accidentally catch them on objects or while running, leading to tears or even complete removal. To mitigate the risk of such injuries, some pet owners opt for dewclaw removal, especially in breeds with less secure dewclaw attachments.
  • Breed Standards: In some dog breeds, breed standards call for the removal of dewclaws for aesthetic purposes. This practice is often followed by breeders to ensure that their dogs conform to the standards set by kennel clubs and breed associations. It’s important to note that breed standards can vary widely, and not all breeds require dewclaw removal.

Dewclaw Removal Procedure

Dewclaw removal is typically performed when a dog is a puppy. It is a surgical procedure that should only be conducted by a qualified veterinarian. Here’s an overview of the process:

  • Anesthesia: The puppy is placed under general anesthesia to ensure they don’t experience pain during the procedure.
  • Surgical Removal: The veterinarian carefully removes the dewclaws, taking care to minimize discomfort and ensure proper wound closure.
  • Healing: After the procedure, the puppy will require some time to heal. The veterinarian may provide post-operative care instructions, including wound care and restrictions on activity.
READ ALSO:  Training Tips for Apartment Dogs: Unlocking the Potential of Your Urban Pooch

Factors to Consider

When deciding whether to remove your dog’s dewclaws, consider the following factors:

  • Breed and Breed Standards: Research your dog’s breed to determine whether dewclaw removal is a common practice or required to meet breed standards. Not all breeds have the same expectations regarding dewclaws.
  • Lifestyle: Consider your dog’s lifestyle and activities. Dogs that are frequently engaged in activities like hunting or agility may be at a higher risk of dewclaw injuries, making removal a more practical choice.
  • Individual Risk: Assess the individual risk factors for your dog. Dogs with loosely attached dewclaws may be more prone to injuries, while those with well-attached dewclaws may have a lower risk.
  • Veterinary Advice: Consult with your veterinarian to discuss the specific circumstances and risks associated with your dog’s dewclaws. They can provide personalized guidance based on your dog’s breed, health, and lifestyle.

In Conclusion

Dewclaws in dogs remain an intriguing aspect of canine anatomy, steeped in both evolutionary history and modern debate.

Whether they serve a practical purpose or are simply a relic of the past, one thing is clear – dewclaws are a unique part of what makes each dog an individual.

Whether your furry friend uses their dewclaws for gripping or simply as an adorable addition to their paws, they are a reminder of the diverse and fascinating world of our canine companions.

The decision regarding dewclaw removal should be made thoughtfully, considering your dog’s breed, lifestyle, and individual needs.

Questions People Also Ask: (FAQs)

Let’s address some common questions pet owners have about dewclaws:


Are dewclaws present in all dog breeds?

No, dewclaws are not present in all breeds. Some breeds are more likely to have them, while others rarely do.


Can dewclaws be used for gripping objects?

Some dogs may use their dewclaws for gripping, but it’s not a universal behavior.


Do dewclaws need regular grooming or maintenance?

Dewclaws, like other nails, can grow too long and may need trimming. However, they often wear down naturally through activity.


Are dewclaws prone to injury?

Dewclaws can be vulnerable to injury, especially if they are loosely attached. Injured dewclaws should be examined by a veterinarian.


Can dewclaws be removed in adult dogs?

While dewclaws are typically removed when a dog is a puppy, the procedure can be performed on adult dogs if there is a medical necessity.


Are dewclaws more common in certain types of dogs?

Dewclaws are more commonly found in dogs with a history of hunting or working, as they may have been useful for gripping or navigating rough terrain.

We appreciate you for taking the time to read this article!


Finally, we hope you found this article interesting? And what do you think about ”What Are Dewclaws in Dogs? Unraveling the Mystery!?”

Please feel free to share or inform your friends about this article and this site, thanks!

And let us know if you observe something that isn’t quite right.

You May Also Like

Pet Care

The Best Dog Collars For 2022   When it comes to dog collars, there are a number of options to choose from. Here are...


Bichon Frise: The Happy, Playful, and Cuddly Companion   The Bichon Frise is a small, cheerful, and affectionate dog breed, known for its bright...

Trending Pet Stories

Scooter Crowned Champion in the 2023 ‘World’s Ugliest Dog’ Contest: A Story of Resilience and Unconditional Love   The Triumph of the Underdog: Scooter,...


Are There Animals Having Down Syndrome?    Is Down syndrome a condition in humans? Or are there other animals with this disorder? Is it...