What Dog Breeds Have Double Dewclaws

If you’re a dog owner or breeder, you may have come across dogs with double dewclaws. Double dewclaws are a unique feature found on some dog breeds. In this article, we’ll be exploring everything you need to know about double dewclaws in dogs.

Understanding Dewclaws in Dogs

Before we dive into discussing double dewclaws, it’s essential to understand what dewclaws are. Dewclaws are the small, digit-like claws found on the inner side of a dog’s paw. Unlike the rest of the dog’s toes, which have bones and muscles, dewclaws are attached to the dog’s leg by skin and a small bone. Dewclaws are considered evolutionary relics and are found on many mammals, including dogs, cats, and even some primates.

While dewclaws may seem like useless appendages, they do serve a purpose for some dogs. For example, breeds that were originally used for hunting or herding may use their dewclaws to grip onto prey or to gain traction on uneven terrain. However, for many modern-day dogs, dewclaws are often removed shortly after birth to prevent them from getting caught on objects or torn off during play. It’s important to note that dewclaw removal is a surgical procedure and should only be performed by a licensed veterinarian.

Single vs. Double Dewclaws: What’s the Difference?

While most dogs have a single dewclaw on each front leg, some breeds have double dewclaws. Double dewclaws are a genetic trait and are found on the hind legs of some dog breeds. As the name suggests, double dewclaws are simply two dewclaws on each rear paw, giving the dog a total of six toes at the back.

Double dewclaws can be found in several dog breeds, including the Great Pyrenees, Briard, and Beauceron. These breeds were historically used for herding and guarding livestock, and the extra dewclaws were believed to provide additional traction and stability on uneven terrain.

While double dewclaws are not harmful to a dog’s health, they can sometimes cause problems if they are not properly maintained. The extra dewclaws can become overgrown or snagged on objects, leading to pain and infection. It is important for dog owners to regularly trim their dog’s dewclaws and keep them clean to prevent any issues.

The Purpose of Dewclaws in Dogs

Dewclaws in dogs serve various functions, including aiding in traction, maintaining balance, and providing extra support during turns. However, dewclaws are not used as frequently as the other toes as they do not touch the ground. As such, some people opt to have them removed, although many believe that this is unnecessary and potentially harmful to the dog.

It is important to note that dewclaws can also be used as a form of defense for dogs. When in a fight or confrontation, dogs may use their dewclaws to grip and hold onto their opponent. Additionally, some breeds, such as the Great Pyrenees, have double dewclaws on their hind legs, which may serve a similar purpose as the front dewclaws. Despite their potential usefulness, dewclaws can also be prone to injury if they get caught on something or if they are not properly trimmed. It is important for dog owners to regularly check their dog’s dewclaws and seek veterinary attention if they notice any signs of injury or discomfort.

Common Myths About Dewclaws in Dogs

Some people believe that dewclaws serve no purpose and that they should be removed at an early age. This belief is unfounded, and there is no scientific evidence to support it. Additionally, some people think that removing dewclaws will help prevent injuries in their dogs, but studies show that dewclaw removal may increase the risk of injury and lead to complications, such as infection and bleeding.

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It is important to note that dewclaws can actually serve a purpose for dogs. Dewclaws can provide extra grip and traction when running and turning, especially for breeds that are known for their agility. They can also be used for gripping toys or bones while chewing. Some breeds, such as the Great Pyrenees, even have double dewclaws on their hind legs, which can help with stability when climbing or descending steep terrain.

Why Some Dog Breeds Have Double Dewclaws

While the exact reason for the presence of double dewclaws in some dog breeds remains unknown, it is believed to be an inherited trait from their early ancestors. Breeds such as the Great Pyrenees, Briard, and Beauceron are known for their double dewclaws, which likely provided them with additional support while working or navigating difficult terrain.

Interestingly, not all dogs with double dewclaws use them for support. Some breeds, such as the Norwegian Lundehund, use their extra digits for gripping and climbing. The Lundehund was originally bred for hunting puffins on steep cliffs, and their double dewclaws allowed them to climb and maneuver with ease. In addition to providing functional benefits, double dewclaws can also be a distinguishing characteristic of certain breeds, adding to their unique appearance.

Breeds with Double Dewclaws: A Comprehensive List

There are several dog breeds that are known to have double dewclaws. These include:

  • Great Pyrenees
  • Briard
  • Beauceron
  • Icelandic Sheepdog
  • Norwegian Lundehund
  • Anatolian Shepherd
  • Spanish Mastiff
  • Caucasian Ovcharka
  • East Siberian Laika
  • Pyr Shep

Double dewclaws are not just a unique physical characteristic of certain dog breeds, but they also serve a purpose. The dewclaws provide extra support and stability when the dog is running, turning, and changing direction. In some breeds, such as the Great Pyrenees, the dewclaws are even believed to help the dog climb steep terrain. However, it’s important to note that not all dogs with double dewclaws will have them on all four paws. Some breeds, like the Norwegian Lundehund, may have them on only their hind legs.

How to Care for Your Dog’s Dewclaws

Dewclaws, just like any other part of your dog’s body, require proper care. Ensure that you check your dog’s dewclaws regularly for any signs of injury or infection. Keeping them trimmed is also essential, as overgrown dewclaws can interfere with your dog’s movement and even cause injury. Always remember to consult with your vet before attempting to trim them yourself.

In addition to regular check-ups and trimming, it’s important to keep your dog’s dewclaws clean. Use a damp cloth to wipe them down after walks or playtime, as dirt and debris can accumulate between the nail and the skin. If you notice any redness, swelling, or discharge around the dewclaw, contact your vet immediately as it may be a sign of infection.

Can You Remove Your Dog’s Dewclaws? Pros and Cons

While it is possible to remove your dog’s dewclaws, it is not advised unless medically necessary. The process of dewclaw removal can be painful and carries a risk of complications. Additionally, dewclaws provide several benefits to the dog, including added support and balance. In most cases, it is best to leave them intact.

However, there are some situations where dewclaw removal may be necessary. For example, if the dewclaw is injured or infected, it may need to be removed to prevent further complications. Additionally, some breeds are prone to dewclaw injuries due to their activity level or conformation, and in these cases, dewclaw removal may be recommended as a preventative measure.

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If you do decide to have your dog’s dewclaws removed, it is important to have the procedure done by a qualified veterinarian. They will be able to ensure that the procedure is done safely and with minimal pain and discomfort for your dog. After the procedure, it is important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions for post-operative care to ensure proper healing and prevent infection.

The Genetics of Dewclaws in Dogs

Double dewclaws are an inherited trait, and they are more common in certain dog breeds. The exact mechanism of inheritance is not well understood, but it is believed to be controlled by multiple genes. Some breeds with double dewclaws may exhibit variations in the number and position of the dewclaws, indicating a complex genetic inheritance pattern.

Recent studies have also suggested that environmental factors may play a role in the development of dewclaws in dogs. Puppies born in colder climates or with certain nutritional deficiencies may be more likely to develop dewclaws, even if they are not genetically predisposed to them.

While dewclaws are often removed for cosmetic or practical reasons, it is important to consider the potential impact on the dog’s health and well-being. Dewclaws can provide additional support and stability during activities such as running and jumping, and removing them can increase the risk of injury or arthritis in the future.

The Evolutionary History of Dewclaws in Dogs

Dewclaws in dogs are believed to be an evolutionary remnant of their wolf ancestors. Historical evidence suggests that the wolf’s dewclaws served a similar purpose to those of modern dogs, providing extra support and balance during hunting, running, and climbing.

However, not all dog breeds have dewclaws, and some breeds have them removed for cosmetic or practical reasons. In some cases, dewclaws can get caught on objects and cause injury, or they may grow too long and require trimming. Despite this, dewclaws remain an interesting and unique feature of dogs, connecting them to their wild ancestors and serving as a reminder of their evolutionary history.

Dewclaw Injuries: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Your dog’s dewclaws can be prone to injury due to their location and lack of protection. Common causes of dewclaw injuries include overgrown claws, snagging on objects, getting caught in between surfaces, or sudden twisting or turning. Symptoms of a dewclaw injury may include limping, favoring one leg, bleeding, or swelling. Treatment options for dewclaw injuries may include antibiotics, wound cleaning, and in severe cases, surgery.

It is important to note that some dog breeds have dewclaws that are more prone to injury than others. For example, breeds such as Great Pyrenees, Saint Bernards, and Briards have double dewclaws on their hind legs, which can be more susceptible to injury due to their size and location. Additionally, dogs that are very active or participate in sports such as agility or flyball may be at a higher risk for dewclaw injuries.

Prevention is key when it comes to dewclaw injuries. Regularly trimming your dog’s nails can help prevent overgrowth and reduce the risk of snagging or catching on objects. It is also important to keep your dog’s environment free of hazards that could cause injury, such as sharp objects or uneven surfaces. If you notice any signs of a dewclaw injury, it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible to prevent further complications.

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Do Double Dewclaws Affect a Dog’s Health or Performance?

Double dewclaws should not affect a dog’s health or performance negatively. In fact, they may provide additional support and balance, making them ideal for working or athletic breeds. All dogs, including those with double dewclaws, require proper care and attention to maintain their overall health and well-being.

However, it is important to note that double dewclaws can be prone to injury if not properly maintained. Owners should regularly trim their dog’s nails, including the dewclaws, to prevent them from getting caught on objects or growing too long and causing discomfort. Additionally, if a double dewclaw becomes infected or injured, it should be treated promptly by a veterinarian to prevent further complications.

It is also worth mentioning that not all breeds have double dewclaws. Some breeds, such as the Great Pyrenees and Briard, are known for having double dewclaws, while others, like the Labrador Retriever and German Shepherd, typically only have single dewclaws. If you are considering adopting a dog with double dewclaws, it is important to research the breed and understand their unique characteristics and needs.

What to Expect During Dewclaw Removal Surgery

If your dog requires dewclaw removal surgery, there are a few things you should know. The procedure is usually done under general anesthesia, and the dewclaws are removed using surgical instruments. Recovery time will vary depending on the dog’s age, health, and the extent of the surgery. Your vet will provide you with post-operative care instructions to ensure your dog recovers safely and comfortably.

Choosing a Puppy with Double Dewclaws: What You Need to Know

If you’re interested in owning a dog with double dewclaws, it’s essential to do your research and choose a reputable breeder. Ensure that the breeder has experience working with the breed and can provide you with information on the puppy’s genetics and health history. Additionally, it’s essential to be prepared for the extra care and attention that double dewclaws require to keep them healthy and prevent injury.


In summary, double dewclaws in dogs are a unique and fascinating feature that can be found in several breeds. While they may not serve essential functions, they do provide additional support and balance, making them ideal for working and athletic breeds. Proper care and attention, including regular checks and trimmings, can help maintain your dog’s dewclaws and prevent injury. As with any aspect of your dog’s health and well-being, it’s essential to consult with your vet if you have any concerns or questions about double dewclaws.

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