Take a close at your pet dog’s paw and you may notice that they have an appendage that resembles a thumb. The appendage in question is technically known as a dew claw.
So, do all dogs have that thumb-like appendage, or is your pet unusual in that regard? We’ll answer that question along with relevant queries throughout this article. Read on if you wish to learn more about dogs and their dew claws.
Do All Dogs Have Dew Claws?
Is it normal for a dog to have dew claws? It’s a question many pet owners have wondered about at some point.
The definitive answer to that question is yes. It is indeed normal for dogs to have dew claws. Or at least it’s normal for them to have dew claws in certain spots.
Domestic dogs are typically born with front dew claws. Those front dew claws can even prove useful in certain situations. We’ll touch on that in just a bit.
However, you cannot say the same thing about rear dew claws.
Rear dew claws are considerably rarer than their counterparts that are located up front. Those rear dew claws are widely regarded as genetic anomalies. Don’t be surprised if you cannot find them on your pet.
What Are the Uses of Front Dew Claws?
Because of where it’s located, you may assume that your dog’s front dew claws aren’t very useful. They may just be evolutionary leftovers that don’t serve any particular purpose.
Though it may seem that way at first, the reality is that dogs can actually get a lot of uses out of their front dew claws.
First off, front dew claws can be very useful for grooming. If there’s some kind of substance or object that’s gotten tangled up in your dog’s fur, they can use their dew claw to remove it. That dew claw is especially useful for cleaning up the area near your dog’s face.
Front dew claws can also help your dog grip items better. They can use their front dew claws to grip the bone they’re nibbling on. Those dew claws can also help them climb out of the water after they go swimming.
The front dew claws remain helpful even if your dog is not actively using them. When your dog goes sprinting, their front dew claws offer additional traction and save them from slipping. The dew claws also improve your dog’s balance so they can stand better on slippery surfaces.
What Are the Uses of Rear Dew Claws?
Unlike the front dew claws, rear dew claws are not particularly useful. It’s unclear if they have any use at all.
The issue with rear dew claws is they aren’t stable. They are not connected well to the rest of your dog’s hind legs. There are no bones or even ligaments that attach those rear dew claws to the rest of your pet’s body. Rear dew claws are only attached to hind legs by flaps of skin.
Because of how they are structured, rear dew claws may even cause injury instead of helping your dog. They can get caught on objects lying on the ground while your dog is running. If that happens, your pet could end up injured.
Why Do Some Dogs Not Have Dew Claws?
Your dog not having rear dew claws is perfectly normal. As we discussed earlier, only front dew claws are common among the domestic dog population. Their rear counterparts are considered more as genetic anomalies.
There is nothing wrong with your pet if they are missing rear dew claws. Missing front dew claws are different.
Your pet should still have their front dew claws even if you got them from a breeder. If those front dew claws are missing, then chances are that the breeder had them removed.
Some breeders may decide to remove front dew claws for medical reasons. Others may do so because they think dogs look better without those front dew claws. Talk to the breeder about dew claws if you don’t want them touching those parts of your new pet’s body.
Is It OK to Remove a Dog’s Dew Claws?
As we’ve already established, rear dew claws don’t serve much of a purpose. They are probably just hanging loosely next to your dog’s paws.
Because those rear dew claws can get injured, you may be thinking of removing them. Is that something you should do or would it be considered cruel?
The reality is that rear dew claws rarely get injured. Even if they don’t fulfill any important role, they don’t cause active harm to your pet either. Your dog can stay fully active without ever getting injured due to their hind dew claws.
You can remove the rear dew claws if you want, but there is no real reason to do so either. Feel free to ignore those rear dew claws because they won’t get in the way.
If you do decide to remove your pet’s hind dew claws, you should do so early on. Pet owners who opt for dew claw removal will usually get the procedure done at the same time that their dog is spayed or neutered.
Just remember that removing dew claws may also disqualify your pet from certain competitions. You may be better off leaving those dew claws alone if you intend to turn your dog into a show pet.
Do Purebred Dogs Have Dew Claws?
Purebred dogs have the same odds of developing rear dew claws as other canines. That is to say that their purebred status has nothing to do with them having or not having rear dew claws.
Notably, your dog’s breed may affect if they will develop double dew claws. Dogs with double dew claws have two of those appendages growing out of the same spot.
The breeds that tend to have double rear dew claws include Anatolian Shepherd Dogs, Briards, Icelandic Sheepdogs, and Norweigan Lundehunds. If you are caring for one of those breeds, you should expect to see an extra appendage.
Once again, you may need to keep those dew claws intact if you intend to enter your dog in show competitions.