Have you ever noticed that your Beagle has an extra nail?
If yes, that means your Beagle has dewclaws. However, if the nail is not present, that means the breeder has already removed them.
They may seem similar to our thumbs but whether they are equivalent to it depends on the breed.
Most owners do not know much about them. Either breeders remove them beforehand, or the owners fail to notice their existence early on.
With that being said, you must know whether to keep or remove them and the advantages and disadvantages.
What are Dew Claws?
Almost all dogs are born with a toenail located above the dog’s paw. It is situated on the inside of their leg. Usually, found on the front legs, but sometimes, they can also be found on their hind legs or all four legs.
While the rear ones do not seem to have any functionality, some dog owners, groomers, and vets believe that the front ones do.
When they are puppies, the dewclaws are just held on by the skin. So, it is easier to remove them as it causes little to no pain. On the other hand, for adult dogs, it can be a painful procedure. Therefore, it is best to surgically remove them when they are just a few days old. Preferably between 3-5 days old.
What are Dew Claws used for?
Are all dew claws functional? Let’s find out!
A lot of dogs use their dewclaws to hold or grasp things. It can be a bone, a toy, or food. Some use it to hold objects to chew on them better.
If your Beagle uses dewclaws, it is better to visit your vet before removing them.
Some believe that dewclaws attached to the bone in the front legs have a definite purpose. Their front feet bend while running at high speeds or on slippery surfaces, so the claws may slightly touch the ground. This can provide extra traction.
Whether this is true highly depends on the dog and the breed.
Some dogs use their dewclaws to climb trees or cliffs. It provides them with a better grip.
But whether it helps Beagles in the same way or not is still a question.
Generally, the rear dewclaws are dangly and floppy. If your Beagle’s front dewclaws are the same, then you can consider removing them as they have no use.
Should you remove Beagle’s Dew Claws? Advantages & disadvantages
Whether to keep or remove your Beagle’s Dew Claws raises a lot of debate.
It depends on the following factors:
- The age of the dog: Easier to remove when they are only days old.
- The dog’s job: If your dog was trained to work or hunt; if they do a lot of digging or turning, the claws may be beneficial.
- The dog’s environment: If your dog lives in an environment their claws might be wounded, then consider removing them.
You are only considering what is best for your dog. Therefore, it is crucial you know the pros and cons of removing them.
- When they run free, the claws can get snagged on something and tear the skin. This might lead to an injury. It can be very painful for your dog. Removing them will prevent any future injury.
- Lack of trimming the toenails will make them grow and cur around the leg. Ingrown nails, if very close to the skin, will eventually injure the foot.
- Infections can fester if they become hidden and go unnoticed.
- They can also scratch or cut your skin since they are sharp and small.
- While getting them removed, your vet will get the chance to see your dog as soon as they are born.
- For dogs involved with sports, dewclaws can pose a risk for injuries. They cry out when you touch or limp when injured badly. So getting rid of dewclaws, in that case, is beneficial.
The surgery will hardly take 15-20 minutes.
- Keep it bandaged for a few days but check for redness or puffiness daily.
- Keep the area dry and clean.
- Check for moisture, bad odor, or slippage.
- Check for bleeding.
- Keep jumping to a minimum for a few days after surgery.
- Removing them can still count as amputation at the end of the day.
- Since many claim they have seen their dogs use the dewclaws (using thumbs to rub their eyes), it might turn out to be an unnecessary medical surgery.
- If the dewclaws are attached to the foot, you will risk major muscle bundles to atrophy since they won’t be used anymore.
- Standard risk of anesthesia is always involved.
When and how to remove Dew Claws
Removing dewclaws is a surgical procedure. It is better to get it done when your Beagle is just a few days old (around 3-5 days). However, if not done at that stage, wait until they are 12 weeks.
If you are going forward with the procedure, make sure you prepare for it beforehand. Otherwise, it is a simple procedure when they are newborns:
Step 1: They will be put under anesthesia.
Step 2: The skin around the dewclaw will be disinfected.
Step 3: Entire toe will be removed with the help of surgical scissors.
Step 4: After the removal, the wound will be stitched and bandaged.
The bones of the newborns have not fully developed. So, the dewclaw is only held on by thin skin. Cutting this is easy and painless. Moreover, the bones are very soft. Ensure that this procedure is done neatly and quickly.
At puppy age, you can get this done when they are spayed and neutered.
However, if they are older and you are hesitant, learn how to maintain their nails. Keep them trimmed and short.
On the other hand, you can have them surgically removed when you take them for a procedure that requires putting them under anesthesia.
Remember: Anesthesia is a must in any case.
For some dogs, dewclaws may help provide traction or climbing. So, removing them may not be necessary. Just keep them regularly trimmed.
While others, do not seem to use them at all. In this case, you can get them removed for fear of possible injuries or infections.
Nevertheless, if infected or wounded, it is better to remove them surgically by a vet.
Share your experiences with us in the comments below.
Dr. Aram Baker has been with Santa Clarita Animal Hospital since 1995 and his special interests include behaviour medicine and dermatology. He graduated from the Cleveland Humanities Magnet Program in Reseda, CA and attended California State University at Northridge where he received a Bachelor’s degree in biology. He went on to pursue his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine at the University of California at Davis. He also spent time in the zoological medicine department at U.C. Davis during his Junior and Senior years. He is dedicated to caring for all pets big or small, young or old with compassion, patience, kindness, and love.