My Puppy has a funny claw above their wrist...what is it?
Its called a Dew Claw....because it touches the dew on the grass and not the ground.
At least that's what some people believe. The exact etymology is unclear but when compared to such names as dewlap (Cattle) meaning loose piece, it is most likely an age old term meaning something like loose claw. Logically that makes sense to me anyway.
The Claw itself is akin to the human thumb. However, there are some instances where the Dew Claw is regarded as "floating". That means that the claw is vestigial, similar to our appendix. Once it had a purpose now, it has none. As such, there are many breeders that will have the Dew Claw removed.
However, in this post I would like to shed some light on this subject. The Dew Claw may be classed as floating in some circles...but so are the front legs. Did you know that the scapula (shoulder blade) is connected to the dogs skeletal system via Muscles and Tendons? There is no ball and socket joint like on us humans.
To give some more information to clear up why Dew Claws can be removed, there are times where a pup will be born missing the connective tissue for the Dew Claw. In these cases the Dew Claw is held to the forelimb only by skin. As such, to eliminate the chance of injury and its related pain and recovery time, breeders or owners may opt to remove the Dew Claw surgically.
The purpose of the Dew Claw is similar to that of our thumb. You will notice that dogs use their Dew Claw when holding something in place, like a prized meaty bone for example, or a soccer ball. The Clew will literally curve onto the object and secure it in place. If that claw has been removed it reduces the stability of the manipulation. Bones can become harder to finish off, balls are much more difficult to secure.
I have provided a link to a good video on You Tube for you to see the Dew Claw in action:
I know its a long video, but its a great highlight to the use of the Dew Claw. Once you have watched this video I am sure that you will hasten to agree that the only reason to remove a claw is to prevent serious risk of injury or in the event that an injury has occurred. The nail on the Dew Claw will grow like any other claw will, unless it gets used it will continue to grow and can become ingrown, much like any other nail could. When grooming and checking your dog, its always a requirement to check the condition of the Dew Claw as well as the claws on the feet.