Dogs are one of the most beloved pets around the world. From their wagging tails to their playful barks, they always manage to bring joy to their owners’ lives. However, not all dogs are created equal. Some have unique physical traits that set them apart from the rest. One such trait is the presence of double dew claws. Double dew claws are not very common in dogs, and many people are not aware of their existence or their purpose.
What Are Dewclaws?
Dog’s dewclaws are actually vestigial bones located on the inside of the front legs. They’re also known as “thumbs” for dogs.
Dewclaws are very small and often hard to see, but they serve a very important function. Even though they don’t change how your dog walks or runs, they aid in mobility by acting as another point of contact when dogs walk or run downstairs or other inclines.
Types of Dewclaws
Dewclaws come in different types depending on the location, number, and orientation of the appendages.
- Single dewclaw: This type of dewclaw consists of a single, small digit that protrudes from the inside of the dog’s leg. It is usually located just above the paw and can be found on the front, hind legs, or both legs. Some breeds, such as the Great Pyrenees, have single dewclaws on their front legs as a breed standard.
- Double dewclaw: Some dogs have a second dewclaw that is located slightly higher up on the inside of the leg, closer to the wrist. This second digit is sometimes referred to as the “carpal dewclaw” because of its proximity to the carpal joint. Double dewclaws are more common on the hind legs and are found in many breeds, including the Beauceron, Briard, and Pyrenean Mountain Dogs.
- Rear dewclaws: While most dogs have dewclaws only on their front legs, some breeds also have dewclaws on their hind legs. These are often smaller and less developed than the front dewclaws and are sometimes called “vestigial” dewclaws. Rear dewclaws can be single or double and are found in breeds such as the Great Pyrenees, Briard, and Icelandic Sheepdog.
- Connected dewclaws: In some cases, the dewclaws on a dog’s front legs may be connected by a flap of skin or tissue. This is most common in breeds such as the Saint Bernard and the Great Pyrenees and is sometimes called “double dewclaws.” The connection between the two digits can be quite strong, making it difficult to remove the dewclaws if necessary.
- Functional dewclaws: In a few rare cases, some breeds of dogs have fully functional dewclaws that are capable of grasping and manipulating objects. This is most commonly seen in the Norwegian Lundehund, which has six fully functional toes on each foot, including the dewclaws. In these breeds, the dewclaws are essential to their natural movement and should not be removed.
Is it rare for a dog to have back dew claws?
Back dewclaws are often seen in breeds that were originally bred for specific purposes such as hunting, tracking, or herding. Breeds that are known to have rear dewclaws include the Great Pyrenees, Briard, Beauceron, Anatolian Shepherd, Spanish Mastiff, Norwegian Lundehund, and some types of Saint Bernards.
It is essential to understand that while rear dewclaws are less common, they do not necessarily cause any problems or health issues for the dog. In fact, they can sometimes be beneficial, providing additional grip, support, and traction when the dog is running or climbing.
Why Do Dogs Have Dewclaws?
The most common explanation for why dewclaws exist is that they help dogs grip things better when they’re running or playing. This is especially true in puppies, who often use them to protect against larger animals that might harm them. That said, there are other possible explanations as well:
- Dewclaws may help protect your dog from getting injured while walking or running through rugged terrain (e.g., rocky streams).
- Dewclaws may be used as an additional means of defense against predators (especially when paired with claws).
Why do some dogs have double dewclaws?
Double dewclaws are a unique feature found on some dog breeds, particularly those bred for specific purposes like herding, hunting, or working in rugged terrain. These double dewclaws are essentially an extra toe or digit that is located higher up on the dog’s leg, above the usual dewclaw.
The function of double dewclaws is not entirely clear, but some researchers believe that they may have evolved to provide extra stability and support for dogs when they are running or turning quickly, particularly on rough or uneven terrain. They may also help dogs maintain balance and grip while climbing, jumping or digging.
What breed of dog has double dew claws?
Double dewclaws are commonly found on certain dog breeds, including the Great Pyrenees, Briard, Beauceron, Anatolian Shepherd, and Norwegian Lundehund. They are also more prevalent in certain geographical regions, with many breeds originating from mountainous areas.
Should double dew claws be removed?
I believe that double dewclaws should only be removed for medical reasons. Double dewclaws are a genetic trait that some breeds are born with. These extra toes are located on the inside of the dog’s front legs and can serve a purpose, especially in certain breeds that were historically used for working in rough terrain.
While some people believe that double dewclaws should be removed to prevent injury or because they are “unnecessary,” no evidence supports these claims. In fact, removing the dewclaws can cause more harm than good. The procedure can be painful for the dog, and if not done properly, it can lead to complications such as infections or bleeding.
Additionally, double dewclaws can provide extra traction and stability for the dog, especially when running or navigating slippery surfaces. In some cases, they may even help to prevent injuries to the dog’s legs by providing additional support.
Of course, if a double dewclaw becomes injured or infected, it should be treated promptly by a veterinarian. In some cases, removal may be necessary to prevent further harm to the dog. However, as a general rule, I believe that double dewclaws should be left intact unless there is a medical reason to remove them.
Do Dogs Dew Claws Grow Back?
Most dogs’ dew claws don’t grow back if clipped off, but some regrow over time. If you’re wondering whether your dog’s dew claws will grow back, it’s best to consult your vet before deciding whether or not to have them removed.
If your dog has double dew claws, you need to speak to a vet. Dogs with double dew claws are either from a line of dogs that naturally have double dew claws or they had something in their past cause them to develop double dew claws. It may not be too serious, but it’s still worth getting checked out by a professional.