Which Dog Breeds Have Dewclaws?
Dewclaws are a fascinating and sometimes controversial feature found on the legs of some dog breeds. Not all dogs have dewclaws, but for those that do, they can serve various purposes. In this article, we will explore which dog breeds have dewclaws, what they are, their importance, and how to care for them.
What Are Dewclaws in Dogs?
Dewclaws are the small, often non-functional, extra toes located on the inner side of a dog’s paw, a little higher up the leg. These additional digits are similar to a thumb or big toe in humans. The dewclaw may be attached by bone or be entirely composed of soft tissue. Dewclaws can vary in size and shape, ranging from tiny, barely noticeable appendages to fully formed, functional digits.
Importance of Dewclaws in Dogs
The importance of dewclaws in dogs is a topic of debate among experts. Some argue that dewclaws serve no purpose and should be removed, while others believe they play a role in a dog’s stability and grip during movement. Dewclaws can provide support when a dog is running or changing direction quickly. They can also help with gripping objects, such as bones or toys.
Dewclaw Function in Canines
The function of dewclaws in canines is thought to be similar to that of a thumb or big toe. Dogs with functional dewclaws can use them to grasp objects or hold onto prey. These extra digits may also help improve a dog’s balance during certain activities, such as climbing or descending steep terrain. However, not all dogs with dewclaws have the ability to use them effectively.
Breeds With Functional Dewclaws
Several dog breeds have functional dewclaws that serve a purpose in their daily activities. This includes breeds such as the Great Pyrenees, Saint Bernard, Briard, and several other working and herding breeds. These dogs often rely on their dewclaws for stability, gripping, and maneuvering in challenging terrains.
Common Breeds With Dewclaws
While not all dewclaws are functional, many dog breeds still possess these extra toes. Some of the more common breeds with dewclaws include the Labrador Retriever, Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, and the German Shepherd. These dogs may not rely on their dewclaws as much as breeds with functional ones, but they still have them as a genetic trait.
Rare Breeds With Dewclaws
Certain rare dog breeds also have dewclaws, although they may not be as commonly seen. Examples of such breeds include the Norwegian Lundehund, which has six fully formed, functional dewclaws, and the Pyrenean Shepherd, which often has double dewclaws on the hind legs. These unique traits contribute to the distinctive characteristics and abilities of these breeds.
Breeds That Often Lack Dewclaws
While many dog breeds have dewclaws, some breeds are more likely to lack them. Bulldogs, Boxers, and Rottweilers are a few examples of breeds that are often born without dewclaws. Additionally, certain breeds may have their dewclaws removed as a standard practice shortly after birth, making them appear as if they never had them.
Factors Influencing Dewclaw Presence
The presence or absence of dewclaws in dog breeds can be influenced by various factors. Genetics plays a significant role, as certain breeds are more predisposed to having dewclaws due to their ancestry. Additionally, breed standards may dictate whether dewclaws are desired or not, leading to selective breeding practices. However, dewclaws can also occur spontaneously in breeds that do not typically have them, indicating the complexity of these genetic traits.
Removing Dewclaws: Pros and Cons
The removal of dewclaws is a controversial topic. Advocates for the procedure argue that removing dewclaws prevents potential injuries, such as tearing or snagging, especially in active or working dogs. Additionally, some breed standards may require dewclaws to be removed for show purposes. On the other hand, opponents argue that dewclaw removal is unnecessary and can cause pain and complications, as the procedure involves amputating a functional appendage.
How to Care for Dewclaws in Dogs
For dog breeds that have dewclaws, proper care is essential to prevent any issues. Regular inspection and trimming of dewclaws are necessary to ensure they do not become overgrown or curl into the pad, which can cause discomfort or injury. Additionally, owners should be cautious when engaging in activities that could potentially strain or damage the dewclaws, such as vigorous play or training.
Dewclaw-Related Health Issues
Dewclaws, particularly those that are loosely attached or non-functional, can be prone to injury or other health issues. Dogs with dewclaws may develop conditions such as dewclaw sprains, fractures, or infections. In some cases, dewclaws may require surgical intervention to prevent further complications. Regular monitoring and prompt veterinary care are crucial to maintaining the health and well-being of a dog’s dewclaws.
In conclusion, dewclaws are an intriguing feature found in certain dog breeds, serving various purposes depending on their functionality. While some breeds rely on their dewclaws for stability and gripping, others may have them as a genetic trait without significant functional value. Proper care and consideration should be given to dewclaws to ensure the well-being of our canine companions.