Should I Remove My Great Pyrenees Puppy’s Extra Dew Claws?

When adopting a puppy, most folks don’t give much thought to whether they have an extra limb. There are some breeds of puppies, though, where humans regularly remove perfectly fine body parts, including cropping their tails and bobbing their ears.

Unless you plan to breed your puppy, having them spayed or neutered is accepted throughout the veterinary community and advocated by dog and animal control experts alike.

However, some dog breeds have unique extras, if you will,  that you won’t find on other breeds. One of those is the Great Pyrenees, affectionately referred to as a Pyr. All Great Pyrenees puppies have something unique to the breed, double dew claws.

The thing about double dew claws on Great Pyrenees is that, while most veterinarians consider them “non-essential,” more and more are advocating against having them removed.

That brings us to today’s question, should I remove my Great Pyrenees puppy’s extra dew claws?

As far as many veterinarians are concerned, the answer is that no, you should never remove your Great Pyrenees puppy’s extra dew claws. 

The more I read about the subject, the more I was convinced that, while the dew claws on some breeds should possibly be removed, for the Great Pyrenees, it’s not necessary and, in fact, rather cruel.

One of the biggest falsehoods about dewclaws is that they’re completely useless and, if left intact, have a tendency to be torn. However, from the information I’ve seen, both are untrue. 

Double dew claws on the Great Pyrenees are attached by bone and are incredibly strong. They act like the thumb on a person’s hand and, in some cases, can be very useful.

Now that you know that there’s no need to remove your Great Pyrenees puppy’s extra dew claws, you might have more questions. If so, please read on. I’ve answered several other questions below, including is it normal for Great Pyrenees to have extra toes and why do Great Pyrenees have double dew claws?

If you want to make an educated choice for your Pyr pup, it’s essential information you should know.

What are Dew Claws on Puppies?

A dew claw is similar to a human’s thumb or big toe. It’s the first digit on both the front and (sometimes) rear feet in puppies and dogs (and cats). 

Dogs have dewclaws because thousands of years ago, they used to climb trees and cliffs to look for food, escape danger, etc.  

Over the millennia, however, as their needs changed and dogs became more domesticated, the dew claw lost its function and moved higher up on a dog’s front & rear paws.

Today, some dogs still use their dew claw, especially hunting and search and rescue dogs. In frigid climates like Antarctica, dew claws help a dog grip ice, which is helpful if they’ve fallen through the ice into water.

Several dog breeds, including the Great Pyrenees that we’re talking about today, are born with double dew claws. Instead of one on each paw, they can have two dew claws. (Usually on their rear paws.)

Do all Purebred Great Pyrenees have Double Dew Claws?

From everything that I have read, yes, all purebred Great Pyrenees have double dew claws on their rear paws. Occasionally you might find a Pyr with only one dew claw on their rear paw, but that is typically a sign that they’re not purebred but instead a mix. 

Is it Normal for Great Pyrenees to have Extra Toes?

Yes, it is normal for Great Pyrenees puppies to have extra toes or dew claws. Indeed, Great Pyrenees are known as “polydactyl” canines which means that they normally have extra digits. 

Most veterinarians will also tell you that these extra toes are no great concern and should not be removed.  As I mentioned earlier, they do play a purpose and, in some situations, can help your Great Pyrenees when they are doing certain activities.

Also, if you have a purebred Great Pyrenees and you wish to enter them in a dog show, they must have their dew claws. Your Pyr can be disqualified from entering any dog shows if they don’t.

What Does it Mean if a Dog has Double Dew Claws? 

Having double dew claws doesn’t mean anything good or bad. As I mentioned before, dogs have had dew claws for hundreds of thousands of years and used them a lot more often to climb, escape, hunt, etc.

Very few dogs do any climbing today, of course, so the dew claw is unnecessary. Still, dew claws can be helpful for some breeds and in some situations. Keeping your pup stable while they walk, for example, or giving them extra gripping power in slippery conditions. 

Why do Breeders Cut Off Dew Claws?

Almost all dogs have front dew claws. If you don’t see them, they were removed by breeders. One reason breeders remove dew claws is to prevent them from being caught on things when a dog runs through rough terrain. Many dog breeds used for hunting have their dew claws removed. 

Typically, a breeder will remove a dog’s dew claws between three and five days old. It’s a simple procedure, and in most cases, they simply clip off the dew claw with scissors or nail clippers.

One problem when using scissors or nail clippers is that the nail can sometimes grow back later. That’s why if a veterinarian removes a puppy’s dew claws, they usually do it using local anesthesia and a surgical scalpel. That way, all of the bone is removed.

Is Removing Dew Claws Cruel?

It’s easier to define “cruel” in some cases than in others. When it comes to removing dew claws, some people feel that it’s cruel, while others view it as normal.

One thing I always tell anyone who asks me about dew claw removal is that veterinarians say not to remove them unless there is a medical reason to do so. Medical reasons include a dew claw that’s been partially torn off or when a dog has some type of disease, usually cancer.

Another factor to keep in mind is that removing a puppy’s front dew claws can potentially cause them problems later in life. For example, research shows a higher likelihood that a dog’s wrist ligaments will stretch and tear without their front dew claws.

Additionally, when a dog’s dew claws are removed, more stress is put on the other leg joints and spine to compensate for the weakness where the vet or breeder removed the dew claw.

Of course, the choice to have your Great Pyrenees puppy’s dew claws removed is yours. If you think it’s cruel, there’s no need to have them removed. If you believe it’s not a big deal, you can choose to have them removed.

Personally, I don’t think removing a Great Pyrenees puppy’s extra dew claws is necessary. From what I have seen, it does cause them a bit of pain and can cause problems in the future.  

Final Thoughts

The question “should I remove my Great Pyrenees puppy’s extra dew claws?”  is one that, if you adopt a Pyr, you’re going to have to answer on your own. 

Most veterinarians will tell you that removing a Pyr’s extra dew claws is unnecessary. (Some will even refuse to perform the procedure.) Also, remember that a Pyr’s dew claws are attached by bone and very similar to the thumb on your hand.

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog about whether or not to remove a Great Pyrenees puppy’s extra dew claws. If you have more questions about the subject or want to learn more about being a pet parent, my other blogs are full of advice, information, and real-world tips.

Until next time, if you just adopted a Great Pyrenees puppy, enjoy this time with them. It goes by very quickly, and they will be an adult (and massive) dog before you know it.

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