What is a dewclew?
Dewclews are found on a dog’s fore and rear paws. The dewclew is usually higher up on the paw, as such does not contact the ground unless the dog is in a gallop or a hard run. During a hard run or gallop, the dewclew is used for lower leg support and preventing torque injury.
Over the past 100 years or so, dewclew removal has become a custom. Initially performed to potentially avoid the claw catching inadvertently around the house - think floor length drapes, low hanging table cloths, etc….
The custom has since become a standard procedure for most puppies.
Things to consider
While removal has become customary, does it really have merits?
Some owners will remove the dewclew as a preventive step to avoid a potential painful injury as the result of the clew catching on carpeting, clothes, outdoor brush, etc. If you pet does catch their dewclew and it tears from the paw, the pain can be intense. Understandable, that some folks just want to avoid the whole possible incident.
On the flip side, removing the dewclew can result in a variety of ailments. The dewclew removal can result in aforementioned torque injuries associated with a galloping dog. It is something to consider if the dog will be very active or used as a work dog. The dewclew have multiple tendons (5) attached the claw.
The removal of the claw can result in degenerative arthritis. The arthritic pain associated with degeneration can build over time. As dog cannot directly communicate the pain, the owner usually only becomes aware of the issue at a pain level that most humans would consider a 8 - 10 on a 0 - 10 pain scale range.
The removal could result in joint, shoulder and limb stress. The stress is result of the dewclew not being available to counteract the torque forces.
When considering whether to have the procedure performed, one should give some consideration to the dog’s environment, activity level, and comfort level. Additionally considering the knowledge that the dog may end up with a higher potential for arthritis or carpal pain. There is no clear answer. In the end, a responsible owner will have to make an informed decision that they think is in the best interest of the furry friend.