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Poodle Dewclaws

Poodle coat covering dewclaws
Dewclaws are often hidden by the coat, if they have not been removed...If so, one must be very careful when grooming.

The majority of Poodles are born with dewclaws only on their front paws; however some Poodle puppies are born with dewclaws on all 4 paws.

If you have a Poodle, there is a good chance that your Poodle does not have any dewclaws at all; this is because it is common practice for breeders to have them removed well before you bring your new puppy home.

However, let's discuss some important aspects of this, including:
  • Whether or not this should/must be done
  • What to do if dewclaws grow back
What are Dewclaws

Dogs have 4 toes on each paw, and a 5th nail that is high on the paw (so high it could be dubbed "on the ankle" or "on the lower limb"). This is just a soft nail when a Poodle is a puppy. However, if not removed, as the Poodle grows older the base of the dewclaw actually grows into an extra digit, flesh, nerves and all. This extra "toe" serves to purpose as a dog cannot move it or manipulate it in anyway that is beneficial.
Why are Dewclaws Removed?

The nails on the front paw of dogs wear down naturally from walking. Dewclaws do not wear down. If not removed, many times these can grow very fast...and they can grow in a curved circle. When this happens, the nail grows back into the dogs skin causing quite a bit of pain. In addition, dewclaws, because of where they are located, often "snag" on carpeting and other materials when a Poodle lies down...this can cause the dewclaws to rip or tear...again causing quite a bit of discomfort.

For these reasons, it is quite common for a breeder to have the dewclaws removed when the Poodle is very young. This is done for Toy Poodles, Miniatures and Standards. 
At What Age is this Done & How?

This is commonly done when the puppy is only 3 to 5 days old. At this extremely young age, the nail is very tiny and very soft. Removal is done at the veterinarian's office and is a quick process.  The nail is slid out, essentially as if it were a sliver.  

Anesthesia is not used,as the procedure usually takes less than 1 minute. While many squirm thinking about this, it does save quite a bit of possible discomfort and pain later on in the Poodle's life.

If they are not removed during this very short window of time and a puppy is older than 5 days old, it is then recommended to wait until he/she reaches the 12 month mark or it may be performed if the pup is being spayed or neutered.
groomed Poodle
Beaux, approx. 3 years old (rescued)
Photo courtesy of owner: Ann Paris
Must This Be Done?

Technically, this does not need to be done. However, if you have a litter of Poodles, it is expected that you will have them removed. The AKC does not fault a Poodle for having dewclaws in conformation events.

Can Dewclaws Grow Back?

Many are surprised to hear...Yes! They can grow back. It is not common, but certainly not unheard of. The Poodle's body may regenerate a dewclaw at any age, puppy to adult dog.  
Should Removal be Done if They Grow Back? Or if They Were Not Removed?

This is a personal decision. One must be aware that if not removed at that very young age of 3 to 5 days old, as the puppy matures, the base of the claws will slowly develop into an extra appendage, quite similar to a toe. If it is to be removed at this stage, it must be done surgically. It is akin to an amputation. This will involve anesthesia and recovery time. Due to the location, an owner must also be diligent during recovery to keep their Poodle from scratching and chewing at bandages.

If dewclaws were not removed, or have grown back....and the Poodle is older and not having troubles, it may be best to leave them. However, another element to keep in mind is that they will need constant trimming (as they do not wear down what-so-ever from walking as the other nails do) and in some cases they can grow crooked which increases the chances of the Poodle snagging the nail which can cause it to rip or tear.

If you are planning on spaying or neutering your Poodle, dewclaws removal can be done at the same time. 

Since it is possible for dewclaws to grow back, or in some cases for a Poodle to have intact dewclaws, an owner must always keep this in mind. 

The coat of the Poodle often covers this area. Therefore, when grooming your Poodle or having your Poodle groomed professionally, do be sure to have this area checked for any issues. 

For intact dewclaws, trimming must be done approximately every 2-3 weeks...and this nail will be trimmed in the same fashion as other nails. 
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