How to Trim a Dog's Dew Claw

Medium
10 - 20 Minutes
4 Weeks

Introduction

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. 

Dog's Perspective

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.

The Trimming Method

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Nail Clipper
Nail File
Step
1
Lying position
Have your dog lie down on a towel or blanket on the floor or position your dog on a table. Be sure to stand next to him if he is on a table to keep him from rolling off.
Step
2
Secure dog
Position yourself so you are draped over your dog's body with your arms stretched towards the leg you need to work on.
Step
3
Dew claw
If your dog's dew claw has been ignored, it will often curl into a circular shape. Be sure you are grooming your dog's dew claw each time you groom his nails as dew claws are not filed while the dog walks like the others are. Dew claws can often grow back into the toe pad if not cared for reasonably.
Step
4
Nail trimmers
Decide which trimmer works best for your dog's nails. You will either use a guillotine trimmer or scissors type trimmer.
Step
5
Secure dew claw
Because the dew claw is attached to a toe that can be bent away from the leg slightly, you can fit a guillotine trimmer under the dew claw, or you can use scissor trimmers. Move the dew claw slightly away from your dog's foot before trimming.
Step
6
Quick
Know where the quick is on your dog's dew claw, so you don't cut too short. If your dog's dew claw is black or dark in color, start by trimming very close to the tip, so you don't accidentally cut the quick. If the dew claw is clear or white, you may be able to see the quick through the claw.
Recommend grooming method?

The Overgrown Method

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Nail Clipper
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Step
1
Restrain dog
Restrain your dog by placing him on a table and having him harnessed or held by a partner. Or, lie with your dog on the floor, positioning your body so you're over the dog's abdomen and back, keeping him securely in place.
Step
2
Pull dew claw away
Because the dew claw is on located separate from the other claws and up against your dog's foot, you can gently pull it away from your dog's leg to clip it. Position the claw so that you can easily clip with your nail trimmers.
Step
3
Overgrown
When your dog's dew claw is overgrown, the quick may grow in length with the claw. Cut small amounts on an overgrown dew claw to avoid cutting the quick. But cut the dew claw often, as the quick will begin to recede the shorter the nail becomes.
Step
4
The quick
If your dog's dew claw is dark in color, start from the edge and trim very small amounts until you are comfortable with the length. If your dog's dew claw is lighter in color, the quick may be visible so you can position the claw for easy clipping.
Step
5
Clip
Using scissor trimmers or guillotine trimmers, very gently clip the end of the dew claw to your satisfaction being very careful not to cut the quick.
Step
6
File
Using a file, sand down any small edges or sharp points on the end of the dew claw. Be sure you leave nothing to get snagged on your dog's bedding, floor, or even outside where your dog walks around.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • As you are with all of his claws, be aware of where the quick is inside the claw, so you don't snip the quick and cause pain and bleeding.
  • If your dog's dew claws are overgrown, the quick may grow longer with them. So, in these cases, be sure you are trimming just a little bit off at a time.
  • Be sure to file your dog's dew claws as well as all of his claws after trimming them to get any sharp edges left behind.
  • Be careful with the quick, which is found inside your dog's claws. Even a dew claw has a quick. If you cut this, it will bleed and cause pain.
  • If you cut the quick, you can use styptic powder to stop bleeding. If you don't have styptic powder on hand, cornstarch may help.
  • If your dog's dew claw is clear or white in color, you may be able to see the quick inside the nail.
  • Be sure to maintain your dog's dew claws each time your dog has his nails done.

Conclusion

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. 

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

Grooming Questions & Answers

Question
Tormound
Great Pyrenees
6 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Tormound
Great Pyrenees
6 Months

What is the best way to groom my big baby. His furs so thick and so hard to scrub what tools do I need and don I trim his few claws and how often

Paige Thompson
Paige Thompson
Dog Groomer
0 Dog owners recommended

Hi Shelby! Great question. A Great Pyrenees has an undercoat that needs to be brushed out with a deshedding tool such as the Furminator brand brush. Combining this with a bath using a deshedding shampoo or conditioner will optimize results. Dew claws need to be trimmed more frequently than the other nails because they do not touch the ground and so do not get worn down by walking. The frequency of the trim is different for each dog. Check them every few weeks to be sure they dont curl into the paw pads. Thanks! Paige

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