As breeders of long haired dachshunds, one question we are asked a lot is “Do you remove the puppies dew claws?” We do not. This is an area where there is quite a bit on controversy. Some are still in favor and others have solid reasons not to.
There are several reasons why we do not remove the dew claws on our puppies.
- The procedure is done when the puppies are about 5 days old. No anesthesia or pain killer is used. They say that it is like cutting a fingernail because the connective tissue has not formed yet. However, I am not so sure that the puppy does not feel it
- To perform the procedure, we would have to take the 5 day old puppies out of their clean, safe environment into a vet’s office where sick animals go, some with parvo, distemper, or other infectious diseases. We do not want to risk our puppies overall health unnecessarily.
- Our puppies are not intended to be a hunting dog, although the original function of the dachshund breed was for hunting badgers. One of the main reasons that the dew claws are removed is in breeds that will be running through woods and thickly covered ground. During these activities, there is an increased risk of tearing the dew claw.
Some vets will recommend keeping an eye on your puppy to see if he or she is having problems with their dew claws. In some cases a dog will have a “loose” dew claw that they recommend removing at the same time the dog is having their spay/neuter surgery. This is a personal choice that you can make with your vet. However, even at that age, the surgery has a recovery time of up to 2 weeks and can be quite painful. The dogs also have the urge to lick the wound which can increase recovery time even more.
The daily life of most dachshunds includes traversing the soft Kentucky bluegrass in the yard or taking a walk on the nice smooth concrete sidewalk. There is very little chance that they could cause serious injury to their dew claw. In our opinion, the risks outweigh the benefits. There is an excellent article, written by M. Christine Zink DVM, which argues that the dew claws actually do serve a purpose. They provide stability to the leg, especially when the dog is running and turning corners. There are actually 5 muscles that attach to the dew claw and when the claw is removed, the muscles shrink up and are not used any more. This can lead to a moderate amount of arthritis and pain when the dog is older.
All of our dogs have their dew claws intact and are quite active playing and running on our property every day. None of our dogs have ever had a problem with an injury to their dew claw. One thing that will help to prevent the dew claw from snagging on anything is to keep them properly trimmed. Keeping all of your dog’s nails maintained regularly should be part of their overall care. Any nail on your dog can get caught or snagged, not just the dew claw. We recommend trimming your dog’s nail at least every 8 weeks. It is especially important to begin trimming the nails of your puppy right away so they are used to the procedure.
I hope this sheds some light onto why we choose to not remove the dew claws on our dachshund puppies and what you can do to prevent injury to your dog.