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What You Need to Know About Dog Split Dew Claw

The split dew claw is a unique physical feature of some dog breeds and it can be a source of confusion for pet owners. In this article, we will explain what split dew claws are, how they are formed, and the implications for the health of your pet. We will also discuss the pros and cons of removing the claw and the risks involved with the procedure.

What are Split Dew Claws?

Split dew claws are a type of toe on a dog's paw that can be either single or double. They are located higher up on the paw, above the other four toes, and they often look like a thumb. Some dogs may have just one split dew claw, while others may have two. They are most commonly found on the hind legs, but they can also be found on the front legs.

The split dew claw is not a nail, but rather a digit, or finger, with a pad and a tuft of fur on the end. It is also not connected to the bone of the paw like the other toes. This means that it is not as strong as the other toes and can be prone to injury. It can also be a source of irritation for some dogs.

How are Split Dew Claws Formed?

Split dew claws are the result of a genetic mutation. They are believed to be the result of a recessive gene, meaning that both parents must carry the gene in order for the puppy to be born with split dew claws. The gene is passed down from generation to generation, so some breeds are more likely to have split dew claws than others.

It is important to note that split dew claws can also be acquired later in life due to injury or trauma. In these cases, the dew claw may be torn off or ripped off, leaving a split in the paw.

Implications for Pet Health

Split dew claws can cause a few health issues for your pet. They can be prone to infection if not kept clean, as dirt and debris can get trapped in the split. This can lead to inflammation and pain, and can even cause the dew claw to become detached from the paw. It is important to keep your pet's dew claws trimmed and clean to avoid infection.

In addition, split dew claws can be a source of irritation for some dogs. They may rub against the ground or other surfaces, causing discomfort. This can cause your pet to lick or chew the area, which can lead to infection or other health issues.

Pros and Cons of Removing the Claw

Some pet owners opt to have the split dew claw removed if it is causing irritation or discomfort. This is a relatively simple procedure that can be done under general anesthesia. The dew claw is removed by cutting through the skin and tissue, and the area is then stitched up. This procedure is usually done on puppies, as it is less painful and more effective.

However, there are some risks associated with this procedure. There is a risk of infection, as well as the possibility of nerve damage if the dew claw is not removed correctly. In addition, it may be difficult to remove the dew claw completely, as there may be some residual tissue left behind. It is important to discuss the risks and benefits with your veterinarian before opting for this procedure.


Split dew claws can be a source of confusion and concern for pet owners. They are the result of a genetic mutation, and some breeds are more prone to them than others. They can be prone to infection if not kept clean, and they can also be a source of irritation for some dogs. If the dew claw is causing discomfort, it can be removed, but there are some risks associated with the procedure.

It is important to discuss any concerns you have with your veterinarian. They can advise you on the best way to care for your pet and help you make an informed decision about whether or not to remove the dew claw.

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