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Do Not Remove Dewclaws on Golden Retriever Puppies : Unnecessary Risk

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declaw on a puppy

We Recommend Not to Remove Dewclaws

Dewclaws – those often overlooked, extra toes on our furry friends that serve a mysterious purpose. While many pet owners opt to have them removed, we’re here to shed some light on why we choose to leave them intact for our puppies. Join us as we explore the importance of dew claws and why they play a role in your pup’s overall health and well-being.

declaw on a puppy

What is a Dewclaw?

A dewclaw is also known as a vestigial digit or fifth toe on your dog’s paw. These tiny claws are higher up on the leg than the other toes. Unlike most dogs’ regular toenails, which are curved and attached to their toes by bone and ligaments, dew claws are attached only by tendons.

Dewclaws serve essential functions for dogs in both wild and domestic environments. 

In the wild, dewclaws help dogs grip prey while hunting or climbing steep terrain, maintain stability, and prevent slipping or falling. 

In domestic settings, dew claws can still serve this purpose during activities such as running, playing fetch, holding onto sticks while playing fetch with their owners, or jumping onto furniture.

Why We Choice to Leave Them

There has been much debate surrounding whether removing a dog’s dew claws through a surgical procedure called “dewclaw removal” is necessary. However, many experts argue that this procedure is unnecessary and can cause harm to dogs.

Removing a dog’s dew claw involves cutting through tendons and ligaments that attach it to the leg. Removal can cause pain and discomfort for the dog during recovery time and potentially long-term joint issues due to altered muscle attachments.

Moreover, removing a dog’s natural defense mechanism could put them at risk of injury while engaging in physical activities. Without their dewclaws, dogs may struggle to maintain balance and grip, leading to potential falls or slips that could result in serious injuries.

A dewclaw on a dog is a natural and essential part of their anatomy that serves various functions. Removing them is unnecessary unless there are medical reasons for doing so. As responsible pet owners, it is essential to understand the significance of dewclaws and make informed decisions about our pets’ well-being.

golden retriever laying down

Benefits of Having a Dewclaw

There are many benefits to having a dew claw.

Balance and Stability: Just like humans use their fingers to grip and hold onto things, dogs use their dew claws to maintain traction on surfaces while walking or running. They are accommodating when navigating uneven terrain or slippery surfaces. Without this extra support from the dew claw, dogs may struggle to maintain their balance, which could lead to accidents or injuries.

Contribution to Grooming Habits: Dogs naturally groom themselves by licking their paws and removing any dirt or debris that may have accumulated during outdoor activities. The presence of the dew claw allows them to reach those hard-to-reach areas between their toes more effectively. Additionally, if your dog likes to play in muddy areas or swim frequently, having a dewclaw can help prevent mud and water from getting trapped between their toes, which can cause irritation or infection.

Improve Overall Joint Health: The ligaments and tendons attached to this digit help stabilize the entire leg structure while in motion. Removing it can disrupt this natural alignment, leading to potential issues such as arthritis later in life. By preserving this small but essential part of your dog’s anatomy, you promote proper biomechanics that can significantly prevent joint problems.

Disadvantages of removing the dew claws

While there are many benefits to keeping dew claws intact, removing them also has some potential disadvantages. 

  1. Increased Risk of Infection and Complications: Removing the dew claws involves a surgical procedure, which always carries a risk of infection and complications. This risk is even higher in young puppies, who have weaker immune systems and may not be able to handle the stress of surgery, as well as adult dogs. In addition, if the incision site becomes infected, it can lead to more serious health issues that may require additional veterinary care.
  1. Pain and Discomfort: Just like any other surgical procedure, removing dewclaws can cause pain and discomfort for your puppy. While they will be given medication for pain management during and after the surgery, it may still take time for them to recover from the discomfort caused by the removal fully.
  1. Potential for Nerve Damage: The dewclaws are attached by a nerve that runs down through the leg. During removal surgery, this nerve can be damaged or severed accidentally, leading to permanent numbness or loss of sensation in the paw.
  1. Loss of Balance and Stability: Dewclaws are important in helping dogs maintain their balance and stability while walking or running. Removing them means removing one source of support for your puppy’s paws, which could affect their gait and overall mobility.
  1. Difficulty with Scratching: Dewclaws also play a role in grooming habits as they help dogs scratch hard-to-reach places on their bodies. Without them, your dog may struggle with scratching themselves effectively, which could lead to skin irritations or infections from being unable to clean themselves properly.
  1. Breed Standards: Depending on your dog’s breed, some kennel clubs require that dogs have all their dewclaws intact to compete in shows and competitions. Removing dewclaws may limit your dog’s potential for competition.


goldendoodle at groomer

How to Take Care of a Dog’s Dewclaws

  1. Check for Ingrown Nails – Regularly inspect your dog’s dewclaws for any signs of ingrown nails. If left untreated, it can cause pain and lead to infection. Trim any overgrown nails using a pet nail clipper, or seek professional help from a groomer if you need clarification on doing it yourself.
  1. Keep Them Clean – Like other parts of their body, dewclaws must also be kept clean! Dirt and debris can easily get trapped between the nail bed and the skin flap, causing irritation or infection. Gently clean around the area with warm water and mild soap every time you bathe your dog.
  1. Trim the Hair – Some dogs have long hair around their dew claws, accumulating dirt and making it difficult to keep clean. Trimming the hair around the area will help with cleanliness and prevent matting or tangling.
  1. Monitor for Injury – Dogs are active creatures and can easily injure their dew claws while playing or running outdoors. Look for any signs of injury, such as bleeding, swelling, or limping. If you notice any of these symptoms, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Dewclaws may seem insignificant, but they are vital to your dog’s life. Taking proper care of them ensures your furry companion remains healthy and happy for years. Always seek professional help if you are unsure and need help properly with your dog’s dew claws.


So, there you have it! We believe that there are many benefits to leaving your dog’s dew claws intact, and we hope that you will consider doing the same!

Dew claws can be a valuable asset to any dog, especially those like Golden Retrievers and Goldendoodles that often enjoy active outdoor activities.

Removing them can cause discomfort and even infection if done incorrectly. We believe that it is important to leave the dew claw intact to ensure the health and safety of our pups. Not only will they have extra protection on their adventures, but they’ll also look cuter with all five toes!

So often removal of the dewclaw is done because of a fear that new owners will fail to properly maintain and care for them. It is important to do your part in learning about Golden Retriever puppies before bringing your new puppy home.  We have an article with tips for a new puppy owner that we hope will give you the confidence you need when you have your fur buddy at home.

If you would like to keep reading about declaws, check out what the AKC has to say on the subject.

If you are ready to reserve a 5-toed puppy, take a peek at our Goldendoodles puppies for sale in Colorado.

It can be so exciting thinking about a new puppy but what breed is best for you and what is the difference between an English Cream Golden Retriever vs American Golden Retriever?

Doodles are everywhere now. Years from now you may hear people talking about doodles as the dog breed that had growing up. What should you know about Goldendoodles puppies before you decide to adopt one of these canines? Could this be the dog breed that could be best for your lifestyle? What are the differences between a Goldendoodle vs Golden Retriever? 

There are many breeds to choose from and many breeders in Colorado to work with but here a Golden Crest Retrievers we try to raise puppies that will be a great addition to your family and will be there for years to come. If you would like to adopt a Goldendoodle puppy we would be excited to work with you and your family.

Picture of Mark Otto

Mark Otto

Mark Otto is a Golden Retriever & Goldendoodle Breeder in Colorado. Along with his wife and 4 children they aim to raise healthy, happy, socialized puppies that will bring families so much joy. Mark has been raising puppies since 2019. Golden Crest Retrievers believes a puppy benefits from being handled daily and exposed to new stimuli, including sights, sounds, textures, and people, to optimize their physical and mental development during their critical socialization period.