Poodle Dewclaws: What Every Owner Should Know


Upon first glance, a Poodle’s dewclaw can be quite odd looking. What’s that claw doing way up there, nearly halfway up their foreleg? Although these strange digits may appear to serve no real purpose, dewclaws are actually more functional than one may think. 

Dewclaws are the fifth toe of a dog’s foot positioned on the inside of the legs. Dewclaws function similarly to the human thumb and are fundamental for a poodle when navigating slippery terrain, sprinting, or gripping onto objects. As a result, dewclaws should be removed only when deemed medically necessary by your veterinarian. 

The conversation around the dewclaw has not favored the canine fifth digit for some time. Unfortunately, it is a common practice by many breeders to have had dewclaws removed unnecessarily at 3-5 days of age. While there are some good reasons for amputating the dewclaw, there are even more reasons why they should be left intact. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about poodles and their dewclaws. 

Why Do Poodle’s Have Dewclaws?

Dewclaws are essential to a poodle when navigating slippery terrain, sprinting, or gripping onto items like bones, treats, and toys.

Dewclaws are nails (claws) attached to a short toe on the inside of the leg that does not touch the ground (like our thumb but as it’s not opposing it’s not quite as useful to the pet). Most dogs have dewclaws and poodles are no exception. However, the actual purpose of a poodle’s dewclaws is a mystery to most owners.

As mentioned previously, dewclaws are actually similar to the human thumb allowing a poodle to get a firmer grip when grabbing objects.

Should A Poodle’s Dewclaws Be Removed?

Poodles, like many dogs, are born with five toes on each foot. Four of which act similarly to human’s index, middle, ring, and pinky fingers. That makes the dewclaw the thumb. The front dewclaws of a poodle are very functional and do include bone and tendons. 

A common misunderstanding amongst poodle owners is that dewclaws are attached only by skin. With some dog breeds, this can be the case, but with poodles, the front dewclaws are nearly always functional. When you feel the dewclaw toe, it does have a bit of a wiggle to it, although a bit less useful than the other toes, these claws do undoubtedly serve an important purpose. 

Owners should not remove a poodle’s dewclaws under normal circumstances. Properly trimming a poodle’s dewclaws will likely prevent injury necessitating removal. In cases of double or rear dewclaws, it is usually best to remove these digits to avert future injury.

There are two reasons why you might need to remove this doggy thumb: 

Double Dewclaws in Poodles

Some poodle pups are born with an additional dewclaw, making the total toe tally a whopping six toes! And they don’t just look odd either. These double dewclaws will more than likely cause a problem for the pup as it grows. 

When the dewclaws grow in doubles like this, they are more likely to be vestigial, or non-functioning.

Poodle’s with double dewclaws have a higher risk of tearing the claw or the claw becoming infected or ingrown.

These double claws are usually removed when the dogs are just a few days old.

Rear Dewclaws In Poodles

Poodles are almost always born with front dewclaws only. These are expected to be healthy and functional. However, many other mammals and many breeds of dogs are born with a set of rear dewclaws. 

A dog’s rear dewclaws are usually non-functioning and are little more than a claw and a toe attached by some skin. While poodles are typically not born with rear dewclaws, it is possible the necessary genes exist deep within their genetics to produce rear claws, especially in poodle mix breeds.

 Even if this were to happen, these rear dewclaws could be left intact with no detriment to the dog. However, upon noticing a pup with rear dewclaws, most poodle breeders would have them removed to save the puppy, and their future owner, any trouble down the road. 

What To Do For a Poodle’s Injured Dewclaw

It isn’t super common, but you’ve probably heard the horror stories just the same. A dog snags its dewclaw on something when it’s running or playing, or perhaps it suffers a fall or a fight. The dewclaw may be dislocated and torn, or in the case of a dangling claw, completely ripped off. 

If a poodle’s dewclaw becomes seriously broken or torn, a vet should be consulted immediately.. If the nail is broken, your vet will likely trim off the damaged part of the nail. A serious tear, however, may require your poodle’s dewclaw to be surgically removed.

If that image has you crawling in your skin, you are not alone. It can be traumatic and painful for a dog to experience an injury like this.

Is Removing A Poodle’s Dewclaw Cruel? 

As a responsible owner, it is up to you to provide the best life for your dog. If there is a good reason to remove your poodle’s dewclaws, it may be necessary. Otherwise, you are merely removing your dog’s toe for no reason. 

For many breeders and owners, removing a poodle’s dewclaws is seen as outdated and cruel. Others see this process as a necessary evil. Although a poodle’s dewclaws are frequently removed for only cosmetic reasons, dewclaws are also removed to prevent injury later in life.

Dewclaws help poodles run, play, chew on their favorite bones, or get a good grip on a slobbery stick. And we all know how much dogs love running, playing, and chewing. 

If you’re worried about a dewclaw being damaged or torn, it is very unlikely to happen, so long as you keep that nail trimmed and your poodle at a healthy weight and level of activity.

The Best Age To Remove a Poodle’s Dewclaws

Generally speaking, a breeder will remove your poodle’s dewclaws long before you bring your puppy home.

A Poodle’s Dewclaws should be removed at 2-5 days of age. When a puppy is young, the nail of the dewclaw is very small, soft, and easily removed by a veterinarian. Dewclaws can be removed in older dogs but must be done under general anesthesia and at a significantly higher cost.

Most breeders will advertise you on whether they remove the dewclaws or leave them attached. So, you can make your decisions based on what the breeder tells you.

Fewer and fewer breeders are removing the dewclaws these days, and in some parts of the world, it is illegal for breeders to remove functioning dewclaws. 

How Much Does Dewclaw Removal Cost For a Poodle?

The average cost for Dewclaw removal is $30-$40 for poodle puppies. Dewclaw removal in adult poodles requires a more complex medical procedure averaging $500-$850. Many breeders declaw a whole litter at a time as most vets will give a 10%-30$ discount

The cost of dewclaw removal is low for poodle puppies because they do not need to be anesthetized, and when they are tiny, the procedure is minimally invasive. 

This cost of dewclaw removal will increase as a dog ages. This results from a more complicated procedure and the requirement of more medical resources. Additionally, it is much more painful for the dog to have a toe removed later in life. 

If the dewclaw looks like it will be a problem in the future, some vets will offer to remove them while the dog is under anesthesia for spaying or neutering. This way, you are saving good money on only having to put the animal under once. 

If your vet removes multiple dewclaws with anesthesia, the price can go quickly up as a standalone procedure. Expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars to upwards of a thousand if the vet deems the dewclaws attached by more than just skin.

In Conclusion

This article was intended to help you to decide for yourself whether or not to remove your poodle’s dewclaws. Hopefully, it allowed you to gain some insight into the importance of these strange little claws as well.

Brent Hartman

I'm Brent Hartman. I've been a dog lover my entire life and have owned many animals over the years. When my black lab Angus passed away, I was looking for another friend to share my life with. As a result of my research, I've come to love poodles and wanted to share some of what I've learned with you. Whether you're looking to adopt a poodle, or already own one, I created Poodle report to be the ultimate guide to help you find the answers you need.

Recent Posts