Anything you do to your Labrador should enhance its life but not affect its life. Hence if anyone wants to do anything to their Labrador, it sparks debate. Similarly one of the topics that is highly debatable is regarding the Labrador dewclaw.
What are these dew claws on Labs? What is the purpose of your Labrador dew claws? Should you remove your Labrador’s dewclaws?
This article answers all your questions and provides you with all the information you need about the Labrador dew claw.
What is the Labrador dew claw?
When you look at your Labrador feet, it generally has four toes on each of its paws. Every domestic dog also has the fifth digit on its paw, like the thumb on our human hand. Simply the small fifth toe with a nail that is present slightly above your dog’s paw is called its dew claw.
They usually don’t touch the ground and are usually present on the front legs. But some dogs have rear dewclaws too along with the front dew claws. Some other dogs also have double dew claws.
Do Labs have rear dew claws?
Do Labradors have dew claws? Yes, Labradors have dew claws on their front legs mostly. There exist some Labs with rear dew claws too, but this is usually rare.
Unlike Labradors, there are some breeds with rear dew claws along with dew claws on the front legs. This is unique to certain herding breeds such as the Great Pyrenees and Saint Bernard. Thus the trait of rear dew claws is unique only to certain breeds.
Why do you remove dew claws?
The idea of removing a dog’s dew claws has some specific reasons behind it. Some people prefer removing dew claws as it seems to be a better option rather than worrying about the problems caused by those dew claws. The problems that people want their dogs to avoid are.
1. Tearing of the dew claw
Some dew claws, especially those on the rear legs are loosely attached to the leg just with a small flap of skin. When your dog is more into field works, playing and running throughout the day, the weakly attached dew claw might get torn when it latches onto something.
It can cause a painful injury to your dog. This is one of the main reason why people prefer to remove their dog’s dew claws.
Even though injuries related to the front dew claws occur, they are relatively rare.
2. Ingrown dew claw nails
Whenever your Labrador runs or plays, its nails lose their sharpness and get blunt. This does not happen with dew claws are they are placed little higher and do not touch the ground easily.
This causes the nails on the dew claws to grow sharper and longer. These sharper and longer nails are more likely to become ingrown into the surrounding area of the dew claw.
3. Overgrown dew claw nails
As i told you that the nail on the dew claw doesn’t get blunt easily and they grow longer and sharper. Dog owners often neglect and forget to clip them.
These sharp and long nails can cause scratches on your body during play and can be quite problematic.
What AKC says about dew claws removal?
According to AKC, dew claw is considered as an extra claw and it serves its purpose only in some dogs. For example, dog breeds such as Norwegian Lundehund use their dew claws to climb rocky cliffs.
AKC allows removing of these dewclaws, as working dogs and other active dogs have a risk of getting their dew claws torn that can cause an extremely painful injury to the dog.
Hence instead of those painful injuries, it is better to remove them before itself.
Purpose of dew claws on Labs- Why to keep them intact?
Actually, what is the purpose of a dew claw? When nature has given dew claws to your Lab, it means that they serve some purpose.
When your Lab is very playful, there is a chance that it might get injuries now and then. Sometimes these injuries may be severe too. Its leg might get injured or its tail might get injured or its paw might get injured or whatever.
You cant start taking away all its body parts under the premise that they get injured severely. This is the same in case of dew claw removal too. And moreover, the purpose of these dew claws is not extinct and it still exists.
1. Joint issues
According to the information from Dr.Christine Zink, DVM, PhD, a famous consultant on canine sports medicine, dew claws have their own function.
According to her, there are two major functioning tendons attached to the front dew claws. The presence of those and tendons and muscles indicate that these dew claws have a purpose.
Hence removal of the dew claws will affect the major muscles attached to those tendons. Removal of dew claws can cause carpal arthritis and injuries to other joints.
2. Useful during movement
The dew claws offer extra support to your Lab’s legs when your dog needs to turn quickly while running at a high speed.
Those dew claws provide balance while your Lab is running and keeps the wrist joints stable.
3. Helpful in holding objects
I have noticed my Lab using its dew claw while holding its large piece of bone. These dew claws help your dog to have a better grip of foods, bones and toys, hence they can hold objects better.
4. Useful in grooming
Dew claws can also provide some help in the process of regular grooming of your dog.
I have observed by dog’s dew claws reaching inside the ear while it scratches the ear. I have heard dog owners saying that their dog’s dew claws are helpful in reaching some itchy spots and corners while their dog scratches itself.
Finally! Should dew claws be removed?- 5 things to know
1. If you want to get your Labrador’s dew claws removed, I won’t suggest that as a good idea. Removing a part of your dog’s body out of fear of future accidents is not a wise idea, because any part of your dog might get an injury if your dog is an active and playful one.
2. Moreover, dew claws serve some major and also some minor purposes, and hence they should be left intact.
3. Dew claws on the front legs are usually connected to the leg by ligaments and bones, hence it is not a wise decision to remove them. Whereas rear dew claws are mostly attached only by a loose piece of skin and hence they are more prone to injury. Since these rear dew claws are attached only to the skin, removing them is easier.
4. For most of the owners, their Labradors nowadays are just companions. They hardly spend their routine continuously in fields and other working activities. In that case, the injury of a dew claw is something that can rarely happen.
My Labradors have their dew claws intact and never had a dew claw injury even though they are quite playful.
5. In any case, if you want your Lab to participate in activities such as agility sport and flyball, there are chances that they might get their dew claws injured. In such cases, they can be preferred to be removed. Otherwise, dew claw removal is not necessary, and it should be done only if it is necessary for your dog.
Maintaining your Labrador dew claws
There are issues related to dew claws such as ingrown dew claws, overgrown dew claws and dew claws being torn. The actual idea of getting dew claws removed also comes from the thought that the dog should not suffer from the above-mentioned problems.
The best solution to these problems would be maintaining the dew claws rather than removing them. If you want to avoid all kinds of issues related to your Labrador dew claws, it is important that you pay attention to its dew claws.
As long as you keep the dew claw nails short, there won’t be any problems for your Lab. Hence trimming and maintaining dew claws should be a part of your Labrador’s daily grooming routine.
As they are present a little higher on the dog’s leg they won’t get worn naturally, so it is necessary to get these dew claws trimmed.
A long nail on the dew claw could be easily caught on to other objects while running and playing. Hence keeping them short will avoid the risk of dew claw tearing injuries. Short nails also avoid ingrown nails and prevent other injuries and infections to your dog.
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