Dewclaws are appendages on a dog’s paws and legs that have baffled dog owners for centuries. Many people frequently wonder what the claws are for or if they are just an unnecessary appendage that can be removed. Dewclaws are as widespread across breeds as large as a St. Bernard and as small as a Pomeranian, but do Cavapoos also have dewclaws?
Cavapoos have dewclaws and these appendages are typically found only on the front paws of the Cavapoo. Many breeders will remove the dewclaws on a Cavapoo but may ask if you prefer for your dog to keep them, if you have placed a deposit for a Cavapoo puppy.
If you have ever wondered what dewclaws are or why your Cavapoo has these claws, this is the article for you. We will explore exactly what purpose these claws serve and whether or not your Cavapoo may need the claws for all of their lives. Read on to find out more.
What is a dewclaw on a dog?
A dewclaw is situated on a dog’s front legs or front feet, as well as the back legs on some breeds, and is basically a claw that was passed on to domestic dogs from their wolf ancestors.
These claws are designed to help dogs attain a better grip on surfaces, and in the case of ancient wolves, to support their body weight if they needed to climb or balance on a surface.
When it comes to Cavapoos, dewclaws are not exactly essential appendages to guide domesticated dogs through their lives. Cavapoos rarely ever climb or find themselves in situations where they need to hunt or balance on surfaces.
In fact, there are many Cavapoo breeders who will remove these claws when their dogs are very young as it is felt that they aren’t necessary and they take away from the cuddly nature of the breed.
Why do dogs have dew claws?
The primary purpose of the dewclaw is to provide stability for a dog that uses all four of its legs to walk, run, and move forwards or backward. Just as we are dependant on the tendons and structure of our feet to keep us grounded and walking upright, the dewclaw serves the same function for a dog.
When the first wolves evolved, the dewclaw was added over time as an appendage that we as humans would most associate with our thumbs.
This claw came in handy for holding captured prey in place while wolves tore meat from the bone, and it also served as a grounding mechanism to aid a dog’s balance as they climbed trees or rocks to capture their prey.
Evolution is a very slow process, and it can be said that the appearance of dewclaws on domestic dogs today is not needed for any of these activities. But the claws are still part of a dog’s anatomy as nature equips dogs with these claws in case they are forced to live and survive in the wild.
The dewclaw can be thought of like a thumb, and the thumb is essential for gripping and maintaining overall mobility. But since most breeds, like the Cavapoo, have no need for these appendages since most of their needs are met by owners, breeders are quick to remove dewclaws.
Do all dogs have dewclaws?
It can be said that all dogs are born with dewclaws on the inside of the front leg and the outside of the rear legs. But there are sometimes instances where dogs will only be born with dewclaws on the inside of the front legs or vice versa.
Some dogs may also be born with double dewclaws on the front or rear limbs, and the claws may resemble small toes at this stage. But the claws do not necessarily serve the function of toes and are only meant to perform the activities described above.
Sometimes, there are often instances where the dewclaw will be poorly misaligned and completely unnecessary since it has grown in the wrong area and these dewclaws can be removed to prevent future discomfort for a dog.
So, no matter where the claws grow or indeed how many of them show up, nearly all dogs have dewclaws and in some cases double claws that serve no function.
How are dewclaws removed?
The procedure to have dewclaws removed is typically performed when a dog is between 3 to 5 days old. If there are double claws present, the procedure can take longer to perform but the primary reason that removal is suggested at such a young age, is to prevent any structural abnormalities that could occur if the dog is much older.
It is common for removal to be done with anaesthesia, since veterinarians will want to ensure that no nerves or primary tendons and ligaments are damaged which could cause trouble with walking or possibly even infection.
Once a puppy is given anaesthesia to completely numb the area, a veterinarian will completely clean, sanitize, and shave the area around the dewclaw to prevent infection and make the process move quickly.
The vet will remove the claw and snap off the tendons that bind to it. The area will be thoroughly bandaged and the bandages should stay on the area for at least a week to allow the wound to close and as a prevention to keep your dog from disturbing the area.
Since this removal process is typically performed within a few days after birth, a new puppy will typically not disturb the area at all. For older dogs, you will want to make sure your dog does not remove the bandages since the area will need to heal after the removal process.
If a breeder decides that all claws on each paw should be removed, then you can expect the removal process to take much longer, which will in turn also prolong the healing process. The procedure is relatively safe, and as long as a new puppy is allowed to heal, they will not notice much of a difference.
What breeds of dogs have dewclaws?
Nearly all breeds of dog will have dewclaws. Dog breeds that are known to have the most dewclaws include St. Bernard, all breeds of sheepdog, the American Pitbull, the German Shepherd, the English Bbulldog, the Great Dane, the Dalmatian, Golden Retrievers, and the Doberman Pinscher.
For Cavapoos, you do not generally see more than one dewclaw on each leg, and in most instances, only one dewclaw each on the front limbs on the backside. Dewclaws on a Cavapoo are also a bit smaller than what would appear on a large breed dog.
Should you remove your dog’s dewclaws?
There is quite a bit of debate among veterinarians and humane organizations when it comes to the removal of a dog’s dewclaws. Most of the debate centers around the proper evolution of the domestic dog and removing appendages is a way of rebelling against the natural process that assigns dewclaws to nearly every breed of dog.
For our dogs, today, especially the Cavapoo, these claws are not exactly needed in the context of why nature placed them in ancient wolves to perform tasks. Our pet dogs are heavily dependant on their owners when it comes to their survival, and many view this as a reason to remove the claws for whatever aesthetic purposes they have in mind.
Does a puppy have dewclaws?
Yes, a puppy is born with dewclaws although it is unknown how many of these claws will appear and where exactly they will appear.
Since having the claws removed can be quite painful once a dog ages and their overall anatomy becomes situated with having the claws in place, it is recommended that the claws are removed during the puppy stage to prevent any inconveniences for older dogs.
In summary, Cavapoos are born with dewclaws and the claws are likely not going to be required thanks to the symbiotic relationship that Cavapoos share with their owners.
These claws are useful when it comes to some circumstances that require extra balance, but this is not a life or death situation where survival is dependant on the claws being in place.
Many breeders will have these claws removed from a Cavapoo for aesthetic purposes and the surgical process is not painful for a dog granted that the process is performed when a dog is only a few days old and is allowed to heal properly.
Rosie only has dewclaws on her front legs, although they are well hidden under her fur. I like to think of them as her little doggy thumbs. She is an expert tree climber, however, so maybe she does actually put them to good use (who knows?!).