The Case for Dewclaws
The RetrieverTraining.Net Forums The Retriever Academy
Total Retriever Training with Mike Lardy
Hawkeye Media Gunners Up Tritronics Wildear
Retriever Coach
Page 1 of 7 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 66

Thread: The Case for Dewclaws

  1. #1
    Senior Member EdA's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Posts
    9,569

    Default The Case for Dewclaws

    Do the Dew(claws)?
    M. Christine Zink DVM, PhD, DACVSMR
    I am a vet that works exclusively with performance dogs, developing rehabilitation programs for injured dogs or dogs that have had surgery as a result of performance-related injuries. I have seen many dogs now, especially field trial/hunt test and agility dogs, that have had chronic carpal arthritis, frequently so severe that they have to be retired or at least carefully managed for the rest of their careers. Of the over 30 dogs I have seen with carpal arthritis, only one has had dewclaws. The others have all had them removed.
    If you look at an anatomy book (Miller’s Guide to the Anatomy of Dogs is an excellent one – see figure below) you will see that there are 5 tendons attached to the dewclaw. Of course, at the other end of a tendon is a muscle, and that means that if you cut off the dew claws, there are 5 muscle bundles that will become atrophied from disuse.
    Those muscles indicate that the dewclaws have a function. That function is to prevent torque on the leg. Each time the foot lands on the ground, particularly when the dog is cantering or galloping, the dewclaw is in touch with the ground. If the dog then needs to turn, the dewclaw digs into the ground to support the lower leg and prevent torque. If the dog doesn’t have a dewclaw, the leg twists. A lifetime of that and the result can be carpal arthritis. Remember: the dog is doing the activity regardless, and the pressures on the leg have to go somewhere. They can be absorbed by the dewclaw, or they will move up and down the leg to the toes, carpus, elbow, and shoulders.
    Perhaps you are thinking, “I never have had one of my dogs have carpal pain or arthritis.” Well, we need to remember that dogs, by their very nature, do not tell us about mild to moderate pain. If a dog was to be asked by an emergency room nurse to give the level of his pain on a scale from 0 o 10, with 10 being the worst, their scale would be 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Most of our dogs, especially if they deal with pain that is of gradual onset, just deal with it and don’t complain unless it is excruciating. But when I palpate the carpal joints of older dogs without dewclaws, I almost always elicit pain with relatively minimal manipulation.
    As to the possibility of injuries to dew claws. Most veterinarians will say that such injuries actually are not very common at all. And if they do occur, then they are dealt with like any other injury. In my opinion, it is far better to deal with an injury than to cut the dew claws off of all dogs “just in case.”
    Anatomical diagram viewing the medial side of a dog’s left front leg demonstrating the five tendons that attach to the dewclaw.
    — from Miller’s Guide to the Dissection of the Dog
    6BF7E986-FF88-42BE-8158-DABA073AEFA1.jpg

  2. Remove Advertisements
    RetrieverTraining.net
    Advertisements
     

  3. #2
    Senior Member EdA's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Posts
    9,569

    Default

    Having had a dog suffer a near career ending carpal hyperextension injury I am a recent convert to leave the dewclaw theory. If the ligamentous attachments provide additional carpal joint stability the risk of leaving them on is small the rewards of leaving them on is enormous. Removal is more cosmetic than practical.

  4. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Long Point Ontario Canada
    Posts
    397

    Default

    Thanks for posting this Doc very informative.

  5. Remove Advertisements
    RetrieverTraining.net
    Advertisements
     

  6. #4
    Senior Member Don Smith's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Johnstown, OH
    Posts
    1,368

    Default

    I've been debating this issue with myself for a long time. I trust your opinion, Dr. Ed. I've now decided.
    HRCH Meglyn's Maramaxx Daisycutter MH-30 (Daisy)
    SHR Meglyn's Eye on the Prize JH (Molly)
    Meglyn's Timbrhuntn ValleyGirl (Lilly)
    Meglyn's Prime Time to Leave Me Lucille SH (Lucy)
    Meglyn's Lionheart MH (Little Guy)
    Meglyn-Firemark's I am NOT a Lab SH (Goldie)
    Meglyn's Lil Miss Sureshot SH CGCA(Annie)
    In memory of Chevy, HR Meglyn's Silverado Slim SH, July 20, 2006, HR Meglyn's Blue Ridge Belle MH, July 19, 2008 and HRCH Meglyn's Honest Abe MH, Aug 9, 2013.

    www.meglynretrievers.com

  7. #5
    Senior Member Tobias's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Posts
    2,774

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by EdA View Post
    Having had a dog suffer a near career ending carpal hyperextension injury I am a recent convert to leave the dewclaw theory. If the ligamentous attachments provide additional carpal joint stability the risk of leaving them on is small the rewards of leaving them on is enormous. Removal is more cosmetic than practical.
    I hope lots of breeders in the US follow suit. Front foot dew claws are important for most breeds (loose front and rear dew claws should be removed).
    Last edited by Tobias; 01-17-2020 at 05:57 AM.
    Is the dog learning because of what I do, or in spite of what I do?

  8. #6
    Senior Member Sabireley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Culpeper VA
    Posts
    1,571

    Default

    I removed them in the litters I produced and the three puppies I bought had them removed. None have had any soundness issues. My most recent dog has her dew claws. They are a lot more moveable and she uses them more than I expected. She grasps and holds things with them and she presses it against things holds herself up. I would not hesitate to buy a puppy with them left on. I am not sure what I will do with my next litter as buyers seem to still want them removed.

  9. #7
    Senior Member saltgrass's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    NW.FL
    Posts
    675

    Default

    Great information! Thanks DR. ED
    Mike Boles

  10. #8
    Senior Member Chris Atkinson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Macon, IL
    Posts
    8,247

    Default

    Here is an attempt to repost the image Doctor Ed had uploaded to see if it is zoomable and readable. I could not get it to show so asked Ed to forward and let me try.



  11. #9
    Senior Member EdA's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Posts
    9,569

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Sabireley View Post
    I removed them in the litters I produced and the three puppies I bought had them removed. None have had any soundness issues. My most recent dog has her dew claws. They are a lot more moveable and she uses them more than I expected. She grasps and holds things with them and she presses it against things holds herself up. I would not hesitate to buy a puppy with them left on. I am not sure what I will do with my next litter as buyers seem to still want them removed.
    my HOF Percy, Trumarc’s Hot Pursuit had dewclaws and it was never a problem. If my memory is correct in 50 years as a veterinarian I have never seen a serious issue with Declaws. In that same time I have seen at least 15 hyperextension carpal injuries all career ending except one which kept her out of competition for almost two years. It is the worst and most career threatening injury for a working dog. Would having dewclaws prevented or diminished the severity of the injuries one can only speculate. I have never been comfortable with amputating a digit in a 3 to 5 day old puppy without benefit of anesthesia. What a terrible introduction to veterinary medicine for a dog.

  12. #10
    Senior Member Keith Stroyan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Iowa
    Posts
    2,324

    Default

    I expect to get complaints when I don't remove the dew claws of my up-coming litter, but I'll take Ed's advice.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •