Dewclaws are those little claws sticking out on the inner sides of your Labrador’s feet. They are practically like thumbs in dogs. Dogs often have them on the front feet. However, some also have them on their hind feet. Dewclaws are those “toes” that usually don’t reach the ground. Some dogs also have dewclaws on the outside of their feet too. Some even have two dewclaws on one leg.
Dewclaws are attached by bone. While some may deem these thumb-like parts useless, they do serve a purpose. These sticking thumbs help dogs grip bones or food. They also help dogs get a little more stability when they run. In some dogs like the Basenji and the Catahoula Leopard dog, these “doggie thumbs” help them climb trees.
The Labrador Breed Standards and What It Says About Dewclaws
According to The Labrador Retriever Club, Inc., removal of dewclaws is allowed. Dog breeds such as the Great Pyrenees and the Briard require these parts to remain intact to be able to participate in dog shows.
Some Labrador breeders – especially the ones breeding field Labradors – remove the dewclaws of their litter at a very young age. So if you can’t see your Lab’s, it means the breeder you got your Lab from removed. However, opinions about dewclaw removal vary. Some breeders prefer to leave them intact and let the future owners decide whether they should have them removed or not.
Why Are Dewclaws Removed?
Those who chose to have their Labrador’s dewclaws removed have their reasons and here are some of them.
Prevent Dewclaw-Related Injuries
Sometimes they are not well-attached to the foot. They could be weak and can get easily get ripped if it latches onto something. Since field Labradors are working dogs, these “doggie thumbs” are usually removed to prevent injuries.
Prevent the Nails from Causing Injuries
Since dewclaws do not reach the ground and get blunt, they can grow very long and get embedded into your Labrador’s feet. Without wearing down or being cut, the nails on the dewclaw can grow very long – causing it to curve and get embedded into its pads or surrounding area. This means that if you chose to let your Labrador’s remain, make sure to trim his nails.
Why Do Owners Leave Their Lab’s Dewclaws Intact?
To have them removed or not has always been a debate, and here are reasons why some owners to leave them intact.
They Help During Agility
Some owners who plan to sign their Labrador’s up for agility like the dewclaws intact as these parts help support lower legs when doing tight turns.
They Help Dogs ‘Hold’ Things
According to some owners, they see their dogs using they “doggie thumbs” to have a better grip of foods and thing such as bones and toys. In some dog breeds, these “doggie-thumbs” help when climbing trees.
In Australia and other countries, dewclaw removal is illegal and is considered cruel and pointless.
When and How are Dewclaws Removed
Some Labrador breeders have the dewclaws of their newborn litter removed as soon as possible. They may be removed as soon as the puppy is born up to 5 days-old. This is often done without anesthesia. Removing these parts when the puppy is older than 5 days may be too late, and The procedure may become more complicated. Often, the next chance to have the dewclaw removal done is the time the dog is neutered or spayed.
The dewclaw removal procedure is done using surgical scissors. The dewclaw – including the skin, bone, and the nails—are removed. The procedure can last up to 30 minutes.