Anytime you talk about removing something from a dog’s body, there is a debate about it. When it comes to dewclaws, however, most owners do not know much about them. Often removed by the breeder, they are gone before you take the puppy home, meaning you never really give them a second thought.
If you have dealt with them, your experiences may factor into how you feel about them. Some people swear their dog’s need them, others think of them as a nuisance.
What Are Dewclaws?
Simply put, dewclaws are small “toes” with a nail that are slightly up the leg, above their paw. Some dogs have front dewclaws, some have rear dewclaws, and some have both.
Dewclaws are removed for safety reasons, cosmetic reasons, or both. They may be removed because of the risk they will get caught and torn or even ripped off, a painful, messy, and bloody business. An injured dewclaw in an adult dog might need to be removed surgically in a more complicated procedure than dewclaw removal on pups.
Dewclaws are generally removed when pups are about 2-3 days old. The little "thumbs" are attached only by cartilage at that age and can easy be snipped off, with a single stitch (or not) to prevent bleeding. Most of them don't bleed at all, and although the pups object vocally (probably to the restraint as much as the snipping) they quickly go back to sleep.
Dewclaw removal may create a "cleaner" look to the leg in the show ring, especially if the dewclaws would have stuck out or been loose and floppy. Most Dalmatian dewclaws are small and tight and barely noticeable.