I just had someone ask me if we remove dew claws on our dogs. I haven’t had anyone ask me that in a very long time. The answer is no. We did them on litters up until sometime around 2002, when other breeders were already starting to stop removing them. My vet taught me how to do the removal myself. I think she had a reason. It was easy to take my 3 day old babies to the vet, hand her a basket full of happy/content puppies, then receive a basket of crying puppies to take home. Doing them myself caused me to really think about what I was doing. We always said it was because they could tear them up the leg, and that’s not untrue, but I had a puppy buyer once ask me “can’t they tear their other toes too?” Actually, yes. They can tear them severely, just catching a nail in a sprinkler head. I finally realized that the truth was, we were removing them because it gave a clean look to the leg in the show ring. That is no reason to amputate the toes of a newborn puppy!
Studies have been done that now show the important purpose of the dew claws. They need them! They very seldom tear them, any more than they tear their other toes. There are indications that dogs without dew claws have more foot injuries and are more prone to arthritis. By the time I was questioning why I was doing them, I noticed that fewer and fewer Labs had theirs removed. They were hunting with them, and showing in the ring (and winning) with them, and I believe in 38 years of being in Labs, I have only known one dog who tore their dew claw.
Here are a few links to help you understand the purpose and reasons for leaving them:
and the best example of how dogs use their dew claws:
I hope this helps you understand why very few Labrador breeders amputate the dew claws of their puppies anymore.