Dew Claw removal. Do we?

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.




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4 thoughts on “Dew Claw removal. Do we?

  1. kat says:

    My black lab mix, who we rescued 18 months ago has a dew claw and our vet mentioned the possibility of removing it, but we said no. I think it is unnecessary too. I am glad to read your post on it. Thanks for providing a solid answer!

  2. Keith says:

    Hello Dian:
    Your article on Dew Claw removal: You will need to make that “2” people that have had a dog tear a Dew Claw off. I was in the Field at a Barbed Wire fence, with about a foot of thick grass growing along the base of the Fence. While I held the Barbed Wire open for the dog to go thru – I did not see the Pig Wire buried at Grass level. The claw was mostly removed, and a bunch of Blood, Duct Tape and a 2 hour crazy drive later got us to the Vet. Where the removal was completed and there was a happy ending. That was in 1974 when I first started breeding Hunting Labs, and from that point on, I began the practice of removing the Dew Claw from the Litters. I never heard of any issues or side effects to the Dog. The only issue we ever ran into was some Countries we shipped too would not except any ‘altered’ Pets in to that Country. However, in the last 10 or 15 years – we also (for the most part) have stopped the Practice. Even in some rare cases.. for those Breeds that would normally have their Tails Docked.. if we know the new owner’s request early enough.. we do not dock the Tail. For myself: If I am going to hurt a animal that can add so much joy to your Life (be it for their own good) – then I must have a very Good Justification for doing so. And, in today’s Society… those Justifications are shrinking rapidly.
    Have a great day

    • Dian Welle says:

      I do not doubt there are hundreds who have torn their dewclaw, my comment was on the number of people I know (and I have friends across the country in dogs). The Point is that any of the dog’s toes could have been caught and torn. I have seen that myself!

      I am so glad your dog did well. Toe injuries sure can bleed like crazy! It must have been scary and sad to see your dog hurt like that.


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