Dogs with Rear Dew Claws: Breeds and Characteristics
What are Rear Dew Claws in Dogs?
Dogs are known for their unique set of paws, each with four toes and a dewclaw located above the paw. These dewclaws are often removed by breeders at a young age, and it is rare for dogs to have dewclaws on their hind legs. However, some dog breeds do have dewclaws on their rear legs, known as rear dew claws.
Rear dew claws are extra toes located on the hind legs of dogs, which are often located above the paw and do not come in contact with the ground. They are attached to the leg by a bone and have a nail, just like the other toes. The purpose of rear dew claws is not entirely clear, but it is believed to have been beneficial to their wild ancestors, who used them for climbing, gripping prey, and maintaining balance while running.
Breeds with Rear Dew Claws: Which Dogs Have Them?
Not all dog breeds have rear dew claws, and the ones that do are limited to certain groups. Breeds that commonly have rear dew claws include Great Pyrenees, Briards, Anatolian Shepherds, Icelandic Sheepdogs, Beaucerons, Portuguese Podengo Medios, Spanish Mastiffs, and some lines of Australian Shepherds.
Great Pyrenees is a breed that is famous for their rear dew claws. This breed is large and fluffy, originating from the Pyrenees mountains in France and Spain. They were bred to protect livestock, and their dew claws were believed to help them climb up steep and rocky terrain. Briards, also known as the Berger de Brie, are a herding breed from France with a thick coat and a friendly disposition. The dew claws on their rear legs help them maintain traction while herding on uneven terrain.
Anatolian Shepherds are another breed with rear dew claws, which helped them maintain stability and grip while protecting livestock from predators. Icelandic Sheepdogs, Beaucerons, Portuguese Podengo Medios, and Spanish Mastiffs are also breeds with rear dew claws, but they are not as common as the Great Pyrenees and Briards.
Characteristics of Dogs with Rear Dew Claws
Dogs with rear dew claws often have unique characteristics that differ from other breeds. For example, Great Pyrenees are known for their double dewclaws, which are larger than the other toes and have a tuft of fur between them. This makes their feet look even more impressive and adds to their majestic appearance. Briards also have double dewclaws, but they are smaller and rounder than those of the Great Pyrenees.
Dogs with rear dew claws may also have a stronger grip and more stability on uneven terrain. This can be beneficial for working dogs, such as those used in herding and guarding. However, it can also make them more prone to injury and infections if the dewclaws are not properly cared for. Additionally, dogs with rear dew claws may have a harder time finding boots that fit properly.
Evolutionary Purpose of Rear Dew Claws in Dogs
The evolutionary purpose of rear dew claws in dogs is not entirely clear, as their wild ancestors are believed to have had a different anatomy. However, it is speculated that rear dew claws may have been used for climbing, gripping prey, and maintaining balance while running.
Some experts also believe that rear dew claws may have been an evolutionary adaptation for certain environments, such as mountainous regions or areas with rough terrain. Dogs with rear dew claws would have had an advantage over those without, as they could maintain stability and grip while navigating the rocky terrain.
Health Concerns Associated with Rear Dew Claws
Rear dew claws can pose health risks if they are not properly cared for. Dogs with rear dew claws may be more prone to injuries and infections, as the dewclaws are not in contact with the ground and therefore not worn down naturally. If the dewclaws are too long or not trimmed regularly, they can get caught on objects or snag on clothing, causing pain and discomfort.
In some cases, rear dew claws can even grow into the skin, leading to infection and other complications. In rare cases, rear dew claws can also be cancerous, requiring surgical removal.
Removal of Rear Dew Claws in Dogs: Pros and Cons
The decision to remove rear dew claws in dogs is often left to the breeder or owner. Some breeders remove dew claws at a young age to prevent injury and infection, while others leave them intact for breed standard or working purposes.
The pros of removing rear dew claws include a reduced risk of injury and infections, as well as easier grooming and finding properly fitting boots. Additionally, some breed standards require the removal of dew claws, and removing them can prevent disqualification in shows and competitions.
However, the removal of dew claws can also have negative consequences. It is a painful procedure that requires anesthesia, and there is a risk of complications such as excessive bleeding and infection. Additionally, removing the dew claws can alter the anatomy and balance of the dog’s legs, leading to a higher risk of injury and arthritis in the future.
In conclusion, rear dew claws in dogs are a unique feature that is limited to certain breeds. They may provide advantages in certain environments or working situations, but they can also pose health risks if not properly cared for. The decision to remove dew claws should be carefully considered, weighing the pros and cons and consulting with a veterinarian or breeder. Ultimately, it is up to the owner to decide what is best for their dog’s health and well-being.