If you’ve ever paid attention to your dog’s paws, then you’ve probably noticed that apart from their main claws, they have a small protuberance on their side.
This protuberance is called the dewclaw. Dog dewclaws are the first digit of their front and, sometimes, rear paws: they have their own blood and nerve supply and they are attached to the carpus by a separate bone. Dewclaws are the equivalent of thumbs and big toes in humans. Usually, dogs have one dewclaw in every front paw, and rarely, one on their rare paws.
Dog dewclaws function: Why do dogs have dewclaws?
Dewclaws' function in dogs is similar to thumbs and big toes' in humans.
- Dog dewclaws provide extra traction on slippery surfaces and at high speed, and they help stabilize their carpal joint.
- They also provide a better hold and grip of objects (especially when chewing) and help dogs climbing trees (also hold to a surface if they are falling).
- They help dogs to hold to the surface when turning, especially if they are running at high speeds.
Should dog dewclaws be removed?
Dewclaws are a very important part of your dogs’ paw anatomy, so there is no reason to remove dewclaws unless it’s advised by a vet.
Dewclaws are often prone to tearing, breaking, and cracking, which can cause pain. However, they serve a clear purpose: they help your dog grasp things, provide traction, and help them stabilize their ankles.
In some breeds, dewclaws' removal is a traditional process many dogs undergo in their first days of life (when they are 4 or 5-days-old), especially in show ring dogs. Some breeds, like Dobermanns, can be disqualified in show rings if they have their dewclaws. However, as we have already mentioned, there is no medical reason to remove dewclaws in puppies, unless the vet advises you to do so.
Dog dewclaws injuries are pretty rare, but they can certainly occur. Some dewclaws stick out of dogs' paws, and they can get caught in grass, bushes, carpets, and other rough surfaces. In these cases, dewclaws can get infected and become a real problem.
Removal of dog dewclaws
Some vets remove dewclaws within the first 3 days of life. Some dogs are born with floppy dewclaws, which generally don’t have a bone structure, making them easy to remove.
If necessary and advised for a vet, the dewclaw removal is performed under anesthesia, and it’s a simple procedure. Generally, it can be performed at the same time the dog is being spayed or neutered. After the surgery, you have to make sure to keep the area clean and neat to avoid further infections. Besides, you should get your pup a collar to prevent him from licking and chewing the wound.
Dog dewclaws' maintenance
Even though dewclaws are useful and certainly have a purpose, they should never be too long since they can get snagged on different surfaces and hurt your pup, therefore grooming is essential.
Trim his nails: Determine the right length of the nails. Don’t cut your pup’s nails too short: if you feel unsure, leave them a bit longer, and you can trim them more later. Trimming them too close to the toe can cause injuries and severe pain. Use a good quality clipper for dogs. Remember dogs' nails are different from human nails and they need special clippers.
- If broken, clean the wound: If your dog’s dewclaws are broken or hurt, you can use our antiseptic wipes to clean that wound and make sure the area is neat. If the wound seems infected, go to your vet for a further assesment of the injury.