Have you ever noticed whether your dog has a dewclaw or not? Many dogs have a dewclaw on their front paws, and some even have them on their back feet, as well. These small digits are typically higher on your pup’s legs and are located where their wrist would be.
What’s a Dewclaw?
Many pet owners notice the dewclaw but shrug it off as useless or a birth defect. This could not be further from the truth. The extra digit is a dog’s version of a thumb, and in some cases, a big toe. Although they are not as versatile as our thumbs, the dewclaw still serves a purpose.
Dogs use the appendage to hold chew toys and other objects. It can help them climb, run, and pull themselves up if need be. Basically, pups use this extra finger to give them more control over themselves and their toys.
Another common misconception of the dewclaw is that it should be removed. This is also untrue unless there is a specific reason. The extra finger is normally attached to your dog by bone. The only time to worry is when it’s hanging on by only skin.
Usually, this only occurs when there is more than one dewclaw on the same paw. It’s also more common on hind legs. Another possible reason to amputate is if there is a serious disease or injury. In that case, a vet should be consulted.
Do All Dog Breeds Have Dewclaws?
Many people are surprised by how many breeds have dewclaws. As it stands, yes, all breeds have them on their front legs – though not all breeds have them on their back legs.
The 20 Dog Breeds With Dewclaws
Below, we look at the breeds that have both front and hind leg extra digits, plus some popular breeds with the appendage.
1. American Pitbull
The American Pitbull, or Pit for short, is our first breed with a dewclaw. This dog is very energetic, playful, and fiercely loyal. They use the extra claw to hold toys, run, and climb if need be. Labeled as a dangerous breed, if this pup is trained with a firm hand, love, and affection, they are very loyal, cuddly pups that love to play and give kisses.
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2. Catalan Sheepdogs
Next, we have the Catalan Sheepdog. This pup ranges in their use of the extra finger, yet most of them have dewclaws on the front and back legs. Bred as herding and working canines, their extra digit helped them run, pull, and even dig. They are friendly, hard-working, and energetic animals.
3. St. Bernard
This lovable giant has both back and front legs adorned with an extra digit. It is thought the dewclaw may have come in handy during the days when the St. Bernard was out looking for people lost in the snow. Now, it’s a great toy prop. This pooch is gentle, loyal, and very intelligent. As one of the biggest dogs in the world, this bear of a pup is remarkably mild-mannered and calm.
4. Norwegian Lundehund
This rather large and in charge puppy is recognized for having six toes per foot. They typically also have two dewclaws on each paw, plus they are double-jointed in one of their toes. As an energetic and happy dog, this breed is ready to work, run, and play. They are also loyal, intelligent, and do well with a firm hand to guide them.
5. Pyrenean Mountain Dog
This next breed, also called the Great Pyrenees, has one dewclaw on each hind leg, and they usually have two on the front. This pooch can trace its ancestors back for hundreds of years and was bred to be a watchdog over livestock. As history repeats itself, this breed still makes a great guard dog. They are great with children, loyal, and friendly. They also require a lot of exercise.
6. Anatolian Shepherd
The Anatolian Shepherd is another ancient breed that almost always has a double set of hind dewclaws. These large dogs are another breed that is great with children, plus this pooch extends his love to other animals, as well. Very loyal and protective, the Anatolian Shepherd has a low drive to target prey. On the other hand, they can fight their owners over dominance by ignoring commands.
7. Estrela Mountain Dog
At this point, we bet you’re seeing the pattern here. Many larger dogs have both front and rear dewclaws, and this pup is no exception. This fierce guard dog was originally bred to watch livestock. Nowadays, they keep their status as a watchdog, but they are also excellent family companions. They have a soft spot for kids and are very affectionate.
This next pup is another canine that is prone to double dewclaws, yet they are usually lower on the hind legs than on other breeds. The Briard is a dog that comes from France and was used for herding. They are very intelligent, energetic, with an independent spirit. That also makes great companions for active individuals.
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Our next dewclaw sporting pup is a super-intelligent homebody that is very loyal to their family. The Beauceron makes a great family dog, plus they are very receptive to their owner’s feelings. This is a gentle pooch that is easy to please, plus they have a fun-loving attitude and hardworking stamina.
10. Cão Fila De São Miguel
This next pooch with a mouthful of a name is from the Azores and was originally used in different herding responsibilities. Equally good at guarding duty, this pup is extremely loyal to their owners and family, but they do not like strangers. They can also be very aggressive towards other animals. With an interesting yet cute look, this canine has the face of a bear with the body of a pooch and hind leg thumbs.
11. Icelandic Sheepdog
Number eleven is another sheepdog breed that was bred for, you guessed it, herding and guarding. This is a smaller, adorable breed with dual dewclaws on their back legs and upward curling, long furred tail. They are very friendly, intelligent, and energetic, plus this pup makes a good family pet. They are also alert, obedient, and like to stick their nose in where it does not belong.
12. German Shepherd
This American favorite is a breed that only has front dewclaws. They are very fast, energetic, and loyal dogs that have been used in a variety of work including jobs as police dogs and guide dogs. A large breed, they can be aggressive, but only when a firm hand in charge is lacking. The German Shepherd is great with kids and has strong territorial instincts.
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13. English Bulldog
Again, we have a pup that features the front extra digit. This stout and sturdy pooch is low to the ground and sports a happy disposition. Not the best at sprinting, this friendly pal is still a fan of having a good time. The Bulldog is also a tongue lolling slobberer that likes to relax around their owners.
14. Great Dane
Our next dog is a large-sized breed that is lanky and can be quite fast. They typically only have front dewclaws, but some pups within the family have been known to have them on the hind legs, as well. Unfortunately, they are usually only attached by the skin, and more often than not, they need to be removed. This is a gentle giant that is friendly, great with kids, and very loyal and attached to their owners.
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The Dalmatian is a black and white spotted dog that is famous for their firehouse work, plus a certain Disney movie that depicts many…many siblings. Although they only have front dewclaws, in this case, they are less useful than in other breeds. The dewclaw is very small and tight to the body. Thankfully, the pup doesn’t seem to need them as they are extremely intelligent, loyal, active, and friendly pets.
Dobermans, also called Doberman Pinschers, usually have their dewclaws removed. As they are not practical or have usefulness as they do in other dogs, owners typically have them surgically removed during infancy. The appendage can also cause injury and pain later in life. As another dog that has been labeled “dangerous,” this is a very loyal, protective, and silly dog that likes to make their owners laugh.
17. Golden Retrievers
Probably one of the friendliest dogs, this pretty puppy is also making use of their front extra digit. Like the Doberman, though, some owners opt to have them removed when they are young, but they can be beneficial for running and digging later in life. Truly loyal, protective, and playful, this is one of the best dogs for families.
Probably the second most friendly dog, the Collie also has the dewclaw. This long-haired, medium to large pooch is active, friendly, and playful. They are great with kids, have high intelligence, and have a very famous family member by the name of Lassie. This happy dog is a great asset to any home, however, they have a considerable amount of shed and need plenty of exercise.
19. Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky is a wiry, fast, and active pal that feels at home in the cold weather. Utilizing their front dewclaws for running, digging, and jumping, this animal was once used as a sled dog. Now, this playful pooch is at home in the living room, although they still require daily activity.
Our last front dewclaw carrier is a tiny tot. This toy breed pooch is friendly, playful, and can be affectionate. Although their thumb-like appendage is not used for too much these days, many pups keep theirs as it makes them feel tough with their little dog, big dog attitude.
As you can see, the list of different breeds with dewclaws is extensive and varied. All breeds have them, but the difference is whether they have back dewclaws, and whether or not those extra fingers are used. The purpose of the dewclaw is also varied, and many pups still make good use of them today.
If you have ever watched your pup hold a chew toy between their paws, or climb their way up something steep, you are seeing the dewclaw in action. That being said, there are breeds that either do not get a lot of use out of the extra digit, or it is in a position where it’s not that great of a help. Furthermore, some owners and breeders opt to have it removed for reasons such as dog shows, injury, and aesthetics.
As mentioned previously, as long as the dewclaw is attached to your pup’s leg via bone and sinew, it is perfectly fine. If there is only skin attaching it to your dog, then it can cause injury and should be looked at by a professional.
We hope you have enjoyed this list of dogs with both front and back dewclaws, and we hope it has given you a better appreciation for your thumbs!
- Related read: Should I Remove My Dog’s Dewclaws? (Vet Answers)
Feature Image Credit: Grigorita Ko, Shutterstock