Many people are confused when we tell them that we remove puppy's Dew Claws and they may equate it to the procedure of 'declawing' a cat. It is not the same thing! Dew claws are the 5th digit or toe on a dog. The first four toes are found side by side on the dog's foot. The Dew Claw is higher up on the leg and does not touch the ground. They can be hard to see, especially on dogs with a full coat like our hairy little Yorkies. They are commonly found on the front legs, but can also be found on the rear, even as double claws on the same leg!
Dew claws are thought to be leftover remnants from evolution. Possibly, they helped a dog to grip, gain traction or climb when the shape of the animal's bone structure caused the leg to have more contact with the ground.
Most dew claws are very flimsy, attached by what appears to only be a flap of skin. These claws create potential problems because they are very easily torn if they get caught on anything and could be painful and/or become infected.
Another problem presented by dew claws is that since they do not normally have ground contact, the nail grows fast in comparison to the rest of the toenails having nothing to wear it down. Owners often miss this nail when trimming their pets because it is higher on the leg and harder to see. The nail can therefore become grossly overgrown and protrude INTO the dog's leg which is understandably very painful!
Dew claws are best removed via aseptic/surgical technique by an experienced breeder or vet at 3 days of age. If done properly, there is very little discomfort and very little ( if any) bleeding. Removing dew claws on adult dogs is much more complicated and painful. The recovery time is longer and measures need to be taken so the dog does not lick at the area while it is healing.