A dog's dew claw is the claw that is completely separate from all of the other claws on his paw. This claw is often found away from his paw up further on his leg. If this dew claw is ignored during regular claw trimming, it can become too long and pose a few different problems. If your dog's dew claw is too long, it can get snagged on grass, landscaping, even your furniture or your carpet, causing the dew claw to pull, break, or tear and potentially cause an injury to your dog. If the dew claw is ignored, it can also grow so long that it begins to circle around itself. Some dogs have had dew claws that grew back into their skin because they were ignored and grew so long that they formed a circle growing into the leg. So, care for your dog's dew claws, if he has them, every time you cut your dog's other claws. This can happen during bath time or brushing time. Just include your dog's dew claw anytime you are trimming his other nails.
If your dog's dew claws are overgrown, he may be a little apprehensive about letting you in that area because it may be tender and sore. This is especially true if the dew claw has grown into his skin. Keep your dog calm with a gentle voice and even a distraction such as a partner who can help you trim his nails. Your dog is going to need to remain still so there is no injury in cutting his dew claws or any of his claws.
Your dog's dew claws are not necessary unless your dog is climbing mountains and saving small children from the Alps. Many dogs are still born with these dew claws. Some breeders have them removed before they sell, however, rescue dogs and dogs from breeders who choose not to remove the dew claws will still have them intact. Be sure to keep your pup in Top Dog shape instead of ruff shape by keeping these dews clipped.