What is the Purpose of a Dog’s Dewclaw?


Dogs have thumbs! Is it a myth or reality? If you are thinking about some funny Instagram posts that are obviously photoshopped, we are actually thinking of something entirely different. We are talking about a dog’s dewclaw.

Evolution is a very slow process and sometimes it takes millions of years. Parts of both our bodies as well as other animals change, adapt or, as in this case, get left behind. They are still here but they don’t longer serve a purpose of any kind.

Sometimes you would want to fix the dog’s dewclaw and remove it and many owners opt to make certain grooming changes to their dog. Oohlalapets.com experts wrote a great article that will help you to choose the best dog grooming clipper.

But before you do anything you better find out more about the dewclaw.

What are Dog Dewclaws?

If you look at your dog or any dog’s paw for that matter, you will notice that they have four primary digits on their front paw. However, there is a fifth digit indicative of a thumb, like humans do. This is why many people call it a dog’s thumb.

But in reality, this fifth digit is the dog’s dewclaw. You will notice that when a dog walks it actually does not touch the ground.


What does a Dewclaw do?

You might think that a dog’s dewclaw has no purpose, but you are entirely wrong. Although minor, a dewclaw has more functions than you may think. First of all, it helps a dog with balance and stability when a dog is moving across uneven terrain.

It is also very helpful to help the dog make landfall after swimming. It also serves in maintaining the dog’s hygiene as a dog will often try to groom itself and it provides assistance and control when dogs clean their ears or faces.

Finally, you might also see a dog using the dewclaw when it is playing around and particularly chewing their favorite toys.

What About Hind Dewclaws?

As far as hind dewclaws go, they serve almost no purpose at all. All dogs have hind dewclaws as well but opposed to the front ones they are nothing more than a small flap skin without any attachment to the leg. The front ones are connected to the paw via bone and ligament. Where the front ones have limited but distinct functionality the hind dewclaws have no purpose except just being there.

Dewclaw Removal!

Although front dewclaws are not removed unless there is a major purpose for it the hind ones can be easily moved. The hind dewclaws serve no function so some dog owners tend to remove it early in a puppy’s life. There is no specific reason behind it and you can opt to do it or not do it.

Most people decide to remove a dog’s dewclaw in order to prevent the occurrence of freak accidents. A dewclaw may get caught up in something and the dog may tear it, causing unwanted bloodshed to happen. There are no specific problems that can occur except a dog doing what a dog usually does. Thus the advice would be to remove it so you prevent accidents from happening.

A veterinarian is perfectly fit to perform a dewclaw surgery and you can visit one to get all the information you need about the process. The vet will also advise you what is the best way to deal with it and why it is necessary to do it as early as possible. It will not be painful for the dog and you will avoid possible problems in the future.