Some Shih Tzu owners mistakenly believe that Dewclaws on their dog must be removed!
They forget to take some critical facts into consideration.
Let’s go over why you should carefully consider things like the amount of pain and distress it would cause a Shih Tzu, especially an adult, and also the necessity of removal…
Do Shih Tzu Have Dewclaws?
Like most dog breeds, Shih Tzu’s do have dewclaws, mainly on their front legs.They can have dewclaws on their rear legs or even have multiple sets of them but this is obviously rarer than the normal one for each front leg.
What Is A Dewclaw In A Shih Tzu?
A dewclaw is a sort of “thumb” or fifth toe that most dogs are born with, although it isn’t quite as useful as a thumb or toe would be.
It is actually possible for a dog to be born without any dewclaws. This is very rare though.
It starts out being very close with their other toes on their paw when they are puppies but ends up separating off and moving higher up their leg as they grow to be adults.
It is thought that the dewclaw moves up the leg as that makes the appendage useful for gripping things like bones while eating and gives them traction.
Two Types Of Dewclaws Of Shih Tzu
There are actually different kinds of dewclaw present in dogs, here are the two ways dewclaws appear in dogs:
Dewclaws Attached To The Bone:
When a dog’s dewclaw is attached to the bone, it can be useful to aid the dog in things such as climbing trees, rocks and other structures, as well as providing traction for them when running at high speeds or on slippery surfaces. As it is sort of like their version of a thumb.
Dewclaws Attached To The Skin:
While dewclaws attached to the bone can in fact be very useful to a dog, the usefulness of a dewclaw that is just attached to the skin and muscle is less clear. These tend to just kind of flop around rather than be an intact claw, which would be firm and hold its structure.
How Many Dewclaws Does A Shih Tzu Have?
Usually there are only two dewclaws, one for each of the front legs. However, it is possible to get more or less dewclaws on the front or hind legs. It really just depends on your Shih Tzu.
Do Shih Tzu Have Double Dewclaws?
While it is quite rare, it is possible for a Shih Tzu to have double dewclaws on any of their legs.
Do Shih Tzu Have Rear (Back/Hind) Dewclaws
It is completely normal and expected to have dewclaws on their front legs but what about on their hind legs?
While it is not nearly as usual to have rear dewclaws as it is to have front ones for a Shih Tzu, it is certainly possible!
How Long/Short Are Dewclaws Supposed To Be?
Since dew claws do not get nearly as much friction with the ground, (which is how dogs naturally file down their claws) they absolutely need to be trimmed or at the very least filed.
There is no real definitive length that their dewclaws need to be, just keep a regular trimming schedule if every 3-4 weeks, trimming a little at a time.
The dewclaws should remain around the same length as their other claws, they just need small trims so they don’t catch in anything or dig into your dog’s leg.
The claws on the paw should be long enough to be seen, but not extend past the paw.
If you have a very fluffy dog you may not be able to see them even when they are at the proper length, just make sure that the dog’s claw length is comfortable for them.
Do Shih Tzu Dewclaws Need Trimming?
Yes. Just like any other claw on a dog, the dewclaws need regular trimming. Unlike the rest of the claws though, dewclaws can’t really be naturally worn down.
We trim them to make sure their dewclaws don’t catch in anything (which could lead to them breaking or being torn out) or cause your dog any pain or discomfort from digging into them.
Should Shih Tzu Have Dewclaws Removed?
Having dewclaws removed should only be done for dogs that will spend a lot of time outdoors, especially in wooded or brushy areas. (e.g. hunting dogs)
Removal of the dewclaws within about 3 or 4 days of birth can be necessary for those dogs in order to prevent unnecessary injury while they are out and about.
Since a Shih Tzu will not live in these conditions, it is doubtful that there is any real benefit in removing dewclaws. Our veterinarian discourages this practice, so we do not remove them.
What Does It Mean When A Dog Has Dewclaws /What Is The Purpose Of A Dog’s Dewclaw?
A dewclaw is essentially just another toe, most dogs will have a few of them on their front legs.
While it is not the most useful appendage in the world, it does have some uses that help the dog with certain activities, it just means that your dog is a four-legged animal really!
Although it should be said that not all four-legged animals have dewclaws, like horses or cows. As they don’t have any claws to begin with!
Do Puppies Lose Their Dewclaws?
No. Dewlaws will not just fall out in any stage of your dog’s life without receiving an injury to them first.
You may notice as puppies though that their dewclaw is much closer to their paw than it will be later in life, it separates and moves up the leg as your puppy grows up.
Can Dewclaws Grow Back?
Yes, declaws are just like any nail and even when they get pulled out, broken or torn, they can grow back. (although, they may not look exactly the same as they did before.)
When vets remove the dewclaws, they surgically remove it past the root of the nail, which is where the nail actually grows from.
This makes it unlikely to grow back, not impossible though. Dogs are very resilient and nature can always find a way if it really wants to!
Do Dewclaws Protect Dogs From Snake Bites?
There is a small bit of folklore in the southern United States that states that dogs born with rear dewclaws will have a natural immunity from snake venom.
This is unfortunately not the case. While we wish this were true, (as it would save a lot on vet bills)it is nothing more than an old wives tale passed on through generations after a few lucky encounters.
Please bring your dog to the vet immediately if you think it may have been bitten by a snake.
How To Stop A Dog’s Dewclaw From Bleeding
If your dog has broken, torn or ripped out their dewclaw, it will begin to bleed.
Here is what you should do if this happens:
- Briefly check to see what damage has been done to the injured dewclaw (whether it has been broken, split or torn out.)
- Wrap the affected area in either gauze or a clean towel and apply constant and even pressure to try and stop the bleeding.
- Bring your dog to the vet as soon as possible so they can make sure the wound is clean and remove or fix any nail left behind by the incident.
Why Do Dewclaws Split Or Break?
Dewclaws can split or break for a variety of different reasons.
If a dog gets its dewclaws caught in anything, such as roots, fibres, carpet, upholstery, etc. it can break, split or even completely pull out a dewclaw.
If your dog is old, its nails can become very dry and brittle. This means that it wouldn’t take much at all for the dewclaw to split or break.
It can also happen if your dog takes a fall or jumps off of something and lands awkwardly on its leg. This could put a lot of pressure on the dewclaw, causing it to snap.
How To Treat A Dog’s Broken Dewclaw & Other Dewclaw Injuries
Obviously, if you have the option available to you, you should bring your dog directly to the vet for any injuries it gets.
If going to the vet is not possible you are going to want to assess the damage to the dog’s dewclaw (whether it is broken, split or completely torn out) and stop any bleeding.
There may be some section of dewclaw that needs to be removed if it is broken. If this is so it should be able to be done at home with clippers if absolutely necessary.
If you do have to do this at home, getting some antibiotics and painkillers that are safe for dogs is absolutely crucial.
Try to be as careful and patient as possible as this is going to be a very painful and stressful situation for your dog.
You may need a muzzle or a cone for your dog to ensure safety for everyone involved.
How Is A Dewclaw Removed?
Removing a dog’s dewclaws should not be done unless expressed by your vet that it is necessary or beneficial to do so.
I think it would be irresponsible to advocate for removing them unnecessarily. Imagine a hashtag going around wanting to remove your thumbs!
Can Dogs Safely Be Declawed?
If brought to a vet a dog can have its dewclaws removed safely if necessary.
However, completely declawing any animal is incredibly cruel and should not be done unless it is a complete life or death situation and recommended by your vet.
Removing all of your animal’s claws would be like someone removing all of your fingers and toes. It just isn’t humane, if it is not done for the animal’s health.
Should A Dog’s Dewclaw Be Removed, Would You Keep Or Remove?
If it is at all possible I would keep a dog’s dewclaws attached to them.
There aren’t really all too many benefits to having the dewclaw removed for most dogs and in most situations. It can however, cause a number of issues for your dog e.g infections.
It is all around the safer option to keep them in my opinion and in the opinion of most vets.
Can You Remove An Older Dog’s Dewclaws?
You can, but unless expressed otherwise by your vet, there really isn’t a good reason to do so. Dewclaws shouldn’t harm an elderly dog just from existing.
Old dogs aren’t as active as young ones so there is much less of a possibility of an old dog breaking or ripping out their dewclaws than a young dog.
Does Removing Dewclaws Cause Arthritis?
Yes, studies have shown that removing dewclaws can in fact lead to arthritis in the joints. Just another reason to keep them where they are.
If your dog has to have their dewclaws removed for medical reasons, this is not a guarantee that they will get arthritis, but it should be something you keep an eye on.
It Is Painful!
If the dewclaw has been ripped out under natural circumstances, it will be extremely painful, just like getting a fingernail ripped out. This is particularly true if it was attached to the bone.
If your dog gets its dewclaw removed by a vet however, it will be done under general anaesthesia and the dog will only experience minor discomfort from the procedure.
How Long Does It Take For A Dog To Recover From Dewclaw Removal?
The procedure itself will only take around 15-30 minutes.
Your dog will have to wait at the vet’s office until the general anaesthesia wears off and they are less groggy, so about another 2-3 hours give or take.
After this though, you can take your dog back home. If the wound has just been bandaged, you can take that off in around 3 days as it should be healed by then.
If your vet has decided to suture the wound however, you will have to wait 5-7 days and then bring them back to the vet to have the sutures removed.
So all-in-all you can expect recovery to last up to a week, as long as there are no complications, you shouldn’t have to wait any longer than that for them to recover.
Why Do Dog Breeders Remove Dewclaws?
For some dog breeds, it is traditional to remove the dewclaws because it looks better in showing rings, or is believed to be prettier.
Other breeders remove them because they can be seen as a safety hazard for hunting dogs or really any dogs that are outside a lot.
How Do You Remove Dewclaws At Home?
You should not be removing dewclaws at home.
Unless there has been an emergency where your dog has been injured and you are unable to take them to a vet and the dewclaw needs to come out, please take them to the vet.
Even then you should only remove dewclaws if it is necessary or recommended to do so.
How Much Does It Cost To Remove Dewclaws?
Price largely depends on where you live and which veterinary practice you go to but you will be looking to pay around $30 – $40 per puppy to get their dewclaws removed.
Some breeders will remove the dewclaw for you before you get your puppy if it is a breed where that would be beneficial.
If you would be nervous about this I am sure it would not be a problem to ask the breeder not to and to take the puppy to the vet yourself.