Think of a dew claw as a thumb. Dew claws are found on many mammals, including birds and reptiles. They are slightly up the leg, above the paw. Some dogs are born with front dew claws, some rear dew claws, and some both.
Dew claws on the front legs of dogs are attached to 5 tendons. At the end of these tendons are muscles with distinct function. These muscles are beneficial in reducing torque on the leg when a dog turns while cantering or galloping as the dew claw digs into the ground to support the leg. Without these functioning muscles, the leg twists. In later years this can lead to carpal arthritis, or injuries to the elbow, shoulder, and toes.
In addition to assisting the dog when running and/or turning at high speeds, the dews also help on slippery surfaces. They provide extra traction while stabilizing the carpal (wrist) joint.
Dew claws also assist in climbing, holding objects to chew on, or to use as ice picks to climb out of the water if the dog falls through ice.
It is common practice, and generally accepted, that removal of the front dew claws on puppies is normal. The thought is that dew claws may get caught or ripped off; causing the dog pain.
However, after years of research, we found considerable evidence that the removal of front dew claws actually causes more harm than it does good. Therefore, in 2018 we decided to no longer remove the front dew claws on our puppies. We feel that leaving the dew claws intact, along with educating our clients on proper care, would be the most beneficial to the overall, long-term health of our dogs.
Still today, I get push back from fellow breeders & the occasional dog owner, that leaving the dew claws intact could cause problems down the road. The fact is, this is old school thinking & very outdated. The evidence which supports leaving front dew claws intact is there, and it is overwhelming. My only regret is that we didn't make this decision sooner.
If you feel strongly about the dew claws left intact; then we are not the breeder for you.
Great examples of how dogs, with and without dew claws, are able to pull themselves up out of water and onto the ice.
We feel this is especially crucial to dogs who live in colder climates.
The front dew claws have a function in preventing torque to the limbs. Removal of dew claws predisposes the dog to injury.