What’s to do with dewclaws & tails?

        There have been many articles written about dew claws, both their supposed dangers and their many uses. I’ve read numerous things from both sides, and I have come to the conclusion that it’s like the issue of circumcision for human babies: everyone will have their own reasons for doing what they believe.

        There was a time that dewclaws were the litmus test of breeders; responsible breeders removed dewclaws (and tails where appropriate), and less than savory “breeders” did not. This no longer applies in any way, shape, or form. 

        I’ve owned dogs that had their front dewclaws intact, and those that had them removed. While my dogs that have theirs intact do use them, I don’t see a difference in my dogs that don’t have them. They still find traction on the agility field, they still use their paws like hands to chew bones and play with toys, and none of them have exhibited phantom pain that I have been able to detect.

        My experience in grooming shops has taught me that the majority of owners are unprepared to care for dewclaws. Several times I saw dewclaws that were so long they curled around and were piercing the paw. These required vet care, and often surgery to correct. This is understandably upsetting for owners, as they often times were never informed of nail care at all.

        I’ve written before about nail care, but I’m going to say it again. Nails need to be done a minimum of weekly. It doesn’t take long, and it’s not hard to do, but it is one of the most critical things you can do for your dog’s health. 

        Breeders are on both sides of the fence, and some even straddle that fence when it comes to dewclaws. I’ve known some breeders who decide litter by litter whether to remove them or not based on their expectations of their present litter. Some have made the choice to remove them and have then changed their mind. Others have decided to leave them then decided to begin to remove them after a traumatic injury (which can happen with any nail). At the end of the day, we must all be comfortable with our decisions, and breeders are no different.

        Now, as we come to the end of 2016, we are seeing yet another province (Quebec) banning the docking of tails. This is several years following the European countries banning docking and cropping, but now they’re in the process of repealing. What they’ve found is that dogs who have been bred and maintained docked tails are dealing with horrific injuries and need to have their tails amputated later in life. There is a HUGE difference in docking tails in a newborn puppy and amputating the tail of an adult. Majority of dogs losing their tails as adults will be euthanized within one year. When decisions are made about such matters, those with knowledge (experienced breeders and handlers) who know the risks involved are seldom consulted. 



© Shari Joanisse 2022