We have all seen that extra claw on the side of our dog’s leg just above its paw. This is called the ‘Dew Claw’.
A dew claw is an extra toe with a toenail, which is often referred to as a dogs thumb. The dew claw itself doesn’t really have a purpose and it is not essential for your dog’s everyday living.
Dew claws can be present on the front and back legs, often only on the front and sometimes only on the back (in certain breeds).
Due to the height of the dew claw on your dog’s legs, the claw will not normally come into contact with the ground and in these cases the claw may require an occasion trim from yourself. On rare occasions dogs dew claws do touch the floor and are naturally worn down by the ground.
Some dogs have dew claws removed from a young age. This is normally due to the fact that the claw is getting in the way of the dog being able to carry out his daily activities. On some dogs, the claw is not properly attached, this can make it more likely that the claw catches on things and ultimately becomes injured. Normally the dew claw doesn’t have any negative effect on your dog’s wellbeing so is not removed. In certain cases some dogs even use the dew claw to help them grip bones and toys.
Some dogs may have double dew claws; this means that the dog has an additional dew claw compared with the normal single dew claw. This normally occurs on the rear legs.
Getting a dew claw removed from your dog at a younger age, when they are a puppy is far easier and straightforward than taking an adult dog to get their dew claw removed. Once the dew claw matures and grows bigger it will be a painful operation. This is why the surgery is only recommended if the dew claw is causing discomfort to your dog; if not then you may be better to leave well alone.