Do Goldendoodles have Dew Claws? All is Revealed

When you’re getting to know your new Goldendoodle puppy and giving them lots of cuddles you may notice a claw that is sitting in an odd position compared to the rest. This is a dewclaw. In this article, we will explain all about their purpose, whether all Goldendoodles have them, and offer you some tips on grooming and how to care for a dog who has them.

Goldendoodles have dewclaws on their front paws, as do all breeds of dog. Rear dewclaws are abnormal in most breeds except the bigger, mountain breeds. Front dewclaws serve some useful purposes including agility, gripping, and wrist strength. They are much like the human thumb or big toe.

Goldendoodles have front dewclaws. Neither the Poodle nor the Golden Retriever has hind dewclaws so it would not be something you would expect to see in the Goldendoodle. If you do then it’s an abnormality. They may not necessarily cause any issues and they can be removed. Read on to discover more about dewclaws, their functionality, and when surgical removal is needed.

What Are Dewclaws?

Dewclaws are positioned on the inner side of the front legs, so it’s the digit closest to their body. Some dog breeds have dewclaws on their rear feet as well such as Great Pyrenees and Saint Bernard’s.

All dog breeds have front dewclaws. However, this is an evolutionary addition to the domestic dog. Wolves, who dogs are originally descended from do not have dewclaws at all. Sometimes dewclaws are floppy, connected only with a loose piece of skin and sometimes they are less flexible and attached with bone. When you look at your dog’s foot, they have four claws and then a fifth further up on the inside – the dewclaw.

Less often, dogs have rear dewclaws. The reason behind this hind dewclaw is unknown but it is thought it aided climbing. Hence why they are seen in the bigger mountain breeds. Some scientists, believing there is no advantage to the hind dewclaw refer to them as ‘polydactyl mutations’ which simply means extra toes.  

Some dogs with a rear declaw will have two on each leg. This is known as double declaws and is seen in the East Siberian Laika and the Icelandic Sheepdog.

What Purpose Do Dewclaws Have?

The dewclaw is a tremendously versatile addition to your Goldendoodle’s paw. Similar to the human thumb they use their dewclaws when holding a large treat or toy. It helps to strengthen the wrist, so they have a better grip for running, especially when turning corners.

The dewclaw also aids climbing and digging so has particular uses for working dogs or dogs who live and walk in rough terrains. They can be a real advantage to dogs who partake in agility-type sports. Additionally, dogs use their dewclaw while tending to their self-grooming needs.

It is thought that dogs with rear dewclaws can be better climbers. So, whilst some scientists believe they aren’t necessarily a redundant feature this is a good argument as to why the large mountain breeds still have them.

Caring for Dewclaws

You may not think dewclaws need any significant care. After all, they don’t make contact with the ground very much. However, it’s very important to regularly clean between all the claws as dirt can collect there which, if left, can start rubbing and hurting your dog. Once things become stuck between the claws, they often stay there so it is important to separate and check them often.

The toenails need to be trimmed and both your vet or your groomer can do this routinely if you are not comfortable doing it yourself. If you are happy to trim your own dog’s nails, this needs a steady hand and a well-behaved dog who will gladly sit still. Due to the position of the dewclaws, they may need trimming more often than the other nails to prevent them from piercing the skin.

It’s important to take extra care when you are grooming your Goldendoodle, especially if their dewclaws are loose. They are very easy to catch when brushing or trimming your dog and this can cause severe pain. When trimming the dew, and other claws, be sure to trim very carefully to avoid cutting the quick. If you are unsure where the quick is due to the nail being darker, then only cut very close to the tip of the nail.

Remove or Keep Dewclaws

The removal of dewclaws is a hot topic among dog owners and breeders and there are arguments on either side. If you do decide they need removing this should be done when they are as young as possible.

Sometimes this is carried out when the puppy is just a few days old. The next best time for this procedure is when they get spayed/neutered. Removal of dewclaws is far more common in the US than it is in the UK.  Some reasons for removing the dewclaws:

  • The Show Ring: Some dog owners remove dewclaws for show purposes as they believe it improves the dogs’ overall appearance. However, it’s not a requirement to have them removed and would purely be a cosmetic decision.
  • Medical Reasons: It may be that the dewclaw is deformed or is in some way causing the dog issues and removing it may be the only option. In rare cases, a tumor may grow on the dewclaw.
  • To Prevent Injury: Loose dewclaws can often get ripped or caught which can cause pain to the dog. Removal is an instant solution.
  • Rear Dew Claws: As the rear dewclaws are not always believed to have many benefits they are often removed.
  • Grooming: Some dog owners prefer not to have to deal with the dewclaws as they can be problematic to maintain. When the nail grows too long it can dig into the dog’s leg causing pain.

Many people argue that removing dewclaws for purely cosmetic reasons is unnecessary but it isn’t illegal. AKC states that dewclaw removal, along with ear cropping and tail docking “should not be banned, as long as appropriate veterinary care and oversight is provided”. (AKC Statement)

Removal of the Dew Claws and Aftercare

Removing dewclaws for medical reasons can take place as and when the situation arises. For instance, in the event it gets ripped or infected.

This procedure doesn’t warrant a long recovery time and your dog will be back home with you the same day under most circumstances. Sometimes the paw might be bandaged which helps to keep the wound clean. If stitches were used, then these are generally removed around 5 days later.

Some dogs may wear a collar after such a procedure to stop them from interfering with the healing process. Without one, you need to ensure your dog doesn’t keep licking the wound as it will do more harm than good and will increase the time it takes to heal. Your dog may have to rest more and not have such long walks until it is healed. Leash walks are also advised for the recovery time period.

Final Word

Dewclaws on the front paws are a normal feature on all dogs whatever their breed. Certain breeds also have them on the rear legs, but this is less common. Front dewclaws have many uses just like humans’ thumbs and big toes do.

Having them removed can be considered largely unnecessary unless there is a good reason behind it. It’s important to keep dewclaws clean and to ensure the nails are trimmed regularly to prevent sore spots on your dog’s skin. Should they need removing for any reason, the process is straightforward and recovery time is usually fast.

Related Question

Do Dew Claws Hurt Dogs?

Most dogs won’t be bothered by their dewclaws at all, and they certainly won’t cause them any pain under normal conditions. If you notice your dog licking or chewing on them then it may need a nail trim or the whole claw might need checking for debris.