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I have been thinking a lot about whether I want my next puppy to keep its dew claws or not. Galen has dew claws. Pogo didn't, and the lack never troubled him. Snarky had one dew claw, which required emergency surgery when he broke it while falling down the stairs at age 9.

Today I watched an interesting video showing how working retrievers use their dew claws to gain traction when pulling themselves out of icy water. I live on water, and Galen has already fallen in a time or two. This is giving me more to think about.
 

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Fenris (spoo), Sushi (old grumpy cat)
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That's really fascinating! I ended up doing a rushed research job on the dewclaws because I never thought I could have a choice in whether they are removed or not, but I got it and decided to keep him intact. Was it a good choice? No clue, he is 15 weeks now so we'll just have to see. But my choice was based on research into more sporting dogs too. We are going to be doing a fair amount of hiking when he's older (gripping on mountain sides seemed like a good skill to have). I also read that they may be an advantage in agility. There seems to be good points on both sides of the debate and it's a hard decision. Let us know when you decide.
 

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My puppy has dew claws left intact as his breeder does agility work with her dogs. My groomer who's been grooming poodles for decades did cluck her tongue about it disapprovingly, but honestly, I come from NZ and the UK where removing them is not really popular. My college friend who's now a vet says he sees far more injuries in the toes which touch the ground.
 

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My border collie had dew claws. They help with hard sharp turns, as long as they are not loose. One day he fell through the ice. I watched him get on the ice, splay the legs, then the ice would break and he would fall in again. Repeat. Repeat. He was finally on thicker ice and was able to pull himself out. Yes, I was ready to go into the icy water and rescue him, but he made it out on his own. Happy for the dew claws.
 

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It seems as though there are pros and cons either way. I’m definitely not an expert. Unless they are loose, there does seem to be a purpose and the main issues from what I’ve read seem to stem from owner’s not caring for them properly or forgetting about them. There is definitely the possibility of injury but then, I look at it as there is a possibility of injury on any part of the body under the right circumstances. I have no strong feelings either way. Thinking it depends upon the dog, the dewclaws themselves and what the dog will be doing. I don’t think pet owners should be shamed with either decision to keep or not keep them. My dogs always had their dew claws and there were never any problems. Bobby has his and I just make sure they are well cared for like the rest of his body. An Imake sure that I am aware of them when I brush and comb him and when I put his winter boots on. He makes pretty tight turns when he is zooming in our yard. It is fairly small with several bushes and gardens and maybe the dew claws help with his ability to navigate the tight turns as well as he does.
 

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The dew claws on our Lab are a real problem. She often injures them and she chews on them as if they hurt. She is a rescue. The rescue Chihuahua also has dewclaws, but since she does not exert herself, they are not a problem.

I always removed dewclaws on the poodles and whippets that I bred.
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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Neat! Thanks for sharing.

I wonder if the practise of removing dew claws is leading to increasingly "useless" loose dew claws. The quality of a dam and sire's dew claws—I'm assuming—is not a consideration for most poodle breeders. In most cases, they wouldn't even know since they've been gone since infancy.
 

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Fenris (spoo), Sushi (old grumpy cat)
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Neat! Thanks for sharing.

I wonder if the practise of removing dew claws is leading to increasingly "useless" loose dew claws. The quality of a dam and sire's dew claws—I'm assuming—is not a consideration for most poodle breeders. In most cases, they wouldn't even know since they've been gone since infancy.
That's interesting to think about. I also read somewhere (I need to start saving links) that some agility breeders leave them, maybe they are the ones who consider them when breeding? It would be really interesting to hear from someone really knowledgeable.
 

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Benjamin Franlkin - Senior Tpoo, Apple Butter - mpoo puppy
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Safranne Poodles keep their puppies' dew claws and they breed for agility. I never knew there was a connection!

I've always had mutts with floppy dew claws so I didn't think they did anything. My old adopted Poo doesn't have them. When I first saw Apple's dew claws, I thought they were the WEIRDEST ever because they are not floppy! They're like... a misplaced toe farther up her leg or something. lol
 

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Safranne Poodles keep their puppies' dew claws and they breed for agility. I never knew there was a connection!

I've always had mutts with floppy dew claws so I didn't think they did anything. My old adopted Poo doesn't have them. When I first saw Apple's dew claws, I thought they were the WEIRDEST ever because they are not floppy! They're like... a misplaced toe farther up her leg or something. lol
Right! lol like when you're brushing, oh great, what's in her hair now? Oh, nevermind, just that weird nail thing.
 

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Fenris (spoo), Sushi (old grumpy cat)
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Safranne Poodles keep their puppies' dew claws and they breed for agility. I never knew there was a connection!

I've always had mutts with floppy dew claws so I didn't think they did anything. My old adopted Poo doesn't have them. When I first saw Apple's dew claws, I thought they were the WEIRDEST ever because they are not floppy! They're like... a misplaced toe farther up her leg or something. lol
Since I have no prior experience, can you tell if a 15 week old pup has floppy dew claws? And what does floppy vs secure mean? I was trying to feel them on Fenris, they seem like small bumps at this point, they have a little give but not much. I still worry about whether I made the right decision to keep his.
 

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Since I have no prior experience, can you tell if a 15 week old pup has floppy dew claws? And what does floppy vs secure mean? I was trying to feel them on Fenris, they seem like small bumps at this point, they have a little give but not much. I still worry about whether I made the right decision to keep his.
It sounds like Fenris has secure dewclaws. I have mostly seen floppy dewclaws on the hind legs of non-poodle large breeds.
 

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Benjamin Franlkin - Senior Tpoo, Apple Butter - mpoo puppy
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Since I have no prior experience, can you tell if a 15 week old pup has floppy dew claws? And what does floppy vs secure mean? I was trying to feel them on Fenris, they seem like small bumps at this point, they have a little give but not much. I still worry about whether I made the right decision to keep his.
Yep. Sounds firmly attached to me. The floppy claws I'm thinking of are like... decidedly floppy. They feel like they're hanging off in their own little pouch of skin. Like a floppy testicle with a claw coming out. LOL

I wouldn't worry about your choice. I am sure either decision you could have made would have been just fine. :)
 

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The floppy claws I'm thinking of are like... decidedly floppy. They feel like they're hanging off in their own little pouch of skin. Like a floppy testicle with a claw coming out. LOL
Hilarious way of describing it, but yeah, exactly.
 

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I think anyone who wants to argue that you shouldn't remove a natural part of a dog's body, is going to have a strong argument. I think not chopping off the bits and pieces that inconvenience us is the high road.

That said, Navy has his dew claws and he detests having his nails clipped. I think he'd be happier with two less nails to clip. Of course he is 10 lbs and dislikes cold and water. He won't be fetching sticks across a frozen pond ever, so I think his dew claws are pretty useless to him. Violet doesn't have them and her breeder didn't give me any choices in the matter. I am doing agility with her so maybe I might be able to notice someday that it has affected her performance. I'll be sure to make a post about it if that happens.
 

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Misha has his dews. They are very firmly attached. It's hind dews that often are floppy though some breeds I think have well formed hind dews.

I saw it as a plus when looking for a breeder but it wasn't a deal breaker. I do think they definitely serve a purpose but dogs are also ok without them. They will use them to hold chew toys and for extra traction. Misha did slightly injure one as a puppy. Just broke the nail bed. It healed fine and wasn't any real problem. I do think they can be a bit tricky with grooming. You can't run a clipper over them and have to scissor over them.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
The videos of the dogs struggling to pull themselves out of icy water really resonated with me. I live on water. Every year in my area there is a report of someone's dog going through the ice. In a few instances the owners have died trying to rescue them. Pogo once, unexpectedly, waded out into a chilly lake to chase a leaf. Galen has shown interest in chasing ducks. I like to think I will be able to keep a curious dog off the ice, but sometimes a dog slips through an open door or gate.
 

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My first Standard had front dewclaws and when she was about 10 months old she ripped one almost off and had to have surgery to remove it properly. I, of course, had the other front one removed at the same time. All of my Standards since have had dews removed and I won't have another one with dews left on. As to the theory that breeders leave them on because they do agility (or other performance), both my current dogs have tons of high-level agility titles and championships and have done thousands of runs over the years. They have run on matting and artificial turf indoors and grass and dirt outdoors at many locations over the years and slipping because they have no dews has never been a problem in my experience. I have also heard people say that removing front dewclaws can cause a dog to have issues with carpal arthritis. Again, that has not been my experience at all. My almost 13-year-old is, in fact, still running a few classes a trial at reduced senior height.....
 
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