The dog's front dewclaw grows on the side of the foot, above the other four toes
but below the rear heelpad. This one is well worn from contact with the ground
when the dog is running.
A dewclaw is a
vestigial digit on some
It grows higher on the leg so that, when the animal is standing, it does not
make contact with the ground.
Dogs almost always
have dewclaws on the front legs and occasionally on the hind legs. There is some
debate about whether the dewclaw helps dogs to gain traction when they run
because, in some dogs, the dewclaw makes contact when they are running and the
nail on the
dewclaw often wears down in the same way that the toenails on their other toes
do, from friction with running surfaces. However, in many dogs, the dewclaws
never make contact with the ground; in this case, the dewclaw's nail never wears
away, and it must be trimmed to keep it at a safe length.
This dog's dewclaw never makes contact with the ground and has grown.
There is also some debate as to whether dewclaws should be surgically
removed. The argument for removal states that dewclaws are a weak digit, barely
attached to the leg, so that they can rip partway off or easily catch on
something and break, which can be painful and prone to infection. In some
countries, however, removing the dewclaws is illegal, the argument being that
the dewclaw will rarely or never suffer injury leading to amputation and that
removing it is unnecessarily painful to the dog. In addition, for those dogs
whose dewclaws make contact with the ground when they run, it is possible that
removing them could be a disadvantge for a dog's speed in running and changing
of direction, particularly in performance
dog agility. There also exists in folklore a story which claims that dogs
that have not had their dewclaws removed are immune to snakebite.
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