Domestic dogs have undergone the most significant changes during the evolution, selection, formation and development of breeds. As a result, they have a large number of vestigial and atavistic characteristics, among them the fifth, dewclaws.
The full reason for inheritance is unknown, since it can appear in the offspring of a dog “pair” that does not have such a violation. Moreover, their ancestors also might not have had extra fingers on their paws. So this is a manifestation of a very ancient and complex origin of the dog.
In most cases, the presence of such a deviation does not affect the animal in any way, but often the fingers are removed due to the requirements of the breed standard or due to possible problems with the dog’s mobility.
What are dewclaws
The thumb, which has lost its function in the process of evolution, has become a vestige. It is located just above the foot, so it does not carry any load.
For sporting and show dogs, the presence of dewclaws is considered a defect. It interferes with the first during regular grooming, and the second can be removed from the exhibition and not allowed to compete.
But for a number of breeds, its presence is a distinctive sign of purebredness, which should be taken into account by the owners of the animal and do not rush to remove the vestige without consulting an experienced veterinarian.
The peculiarity of “extra” fingers is that they are most often found on the hind legs of the dog, and on the front they are much less common. Sometimes the “tricks of nature” are double. They should be removed not only for aesthetic reasons. Since the fingers are superfluous and not used, they are not assigned any vital functions. But they can grow claws that interfere with the normal movement of the animal, in some cases inflamed and growing into the surrounding tissue. Root operation eliminates the possibility of a problem.
Breeds for which the presence of dewclaws is considered a sign of pure blood
There are a number of dog breeds for which the presence of dewclaws is considered an important indicator of pedigree:
- Pyrenean Mastiff;
- Nenets Laika.
When evaluating the exterior of dogs, the presence of these rudimentary details must be taken into account.
Removal of dewclaws
When planning removal of dewclaws is necessary to take into account the specifics of the procedure:
- The operation is best performed from the third to the sixth day of the puppy’s life. At this time, the removal is less traumatic and does not require long rehabilitation. Using a special device — hemostatic tweezers — the finger is captured and cut off with a skin flap. Sutures are applied to the site of the intervention. When using a absorbable material, they do not have to be removed. At an early age, the animal tolerates the operation very well. It is performed under local anesthesia, less often — without it, since a small puppy does not feel much pain with minimal intervention. Stitches are removed after a week, provided normal healing and if no self-absorbing material was used, in this case, the stitches do not need to be removed.
- A puppy older than 7 days is not operated on until it reaches 12-16 weeks. At this age, the animal will need to apply a soft type of bandage to cover the wound surface and fix the stitches. To prevent dirt from getting into the operated area, and the dog could not lick the seams, an “Elizabethan” collar is put on the dog’s neck. The wound surface is treated with antiseptic every day. The stitches are removed after about 10-14 days.
Practice shows that it is better to remove the dewclaws at a very young age, simultaneously with the cupping (according to breed standards) of the tail and ears. In this case, the operation is easier to bear by animals, and the wounds heal faster and cleaner.
After removing the dewclaws, dogs have a reduced risk of injury to rudimentary organs during running, playing games, or fighting with fellow tribesmen. And it is much easier for owners to take care of their pet.
This is especially important for animals with long, wavy, prone to knocking in shreds and tangles of hair.
When combing, a rudimentary finger that accidentally gets into a hairball can be damaged. This can cause bleeding or cause infection.
Hi, my name is Mike Fletcher. I am 36 years old and a veterinarian at a veterinary clinic in Granby Colorado. And this is my blog about Pets. I hope I can answer your questions here.