How many toes does a Goldendoodle have? The answer might not be as obvious as you’d first think—it depends on whether your dog has dew claws!
So, do Goldendoodles have dew claws? Goldendoodles naturally have two dew claws—one located on the inside of each front paw. Sometimes breeders or owners choose to have their Goldendoodle’s dew claws removed. However, dew claw removal is becoming a less common practice.
Here’s a photo of my Goldendoodle’s dew claw:
Keep reading, as we’ll discuss what dew claws are used for, how to care for them, and whether you should have them removed!
What are Dew Claws?
Dew claws are one of your Goldendoodle’s “digits,” (a fancy word for fingers or toes) located on the inside of their front paws. While some breeds have dew claws on their hind legs as well, this isn’t the case with the Goldendoodle as neither the Golden Retriever or Poodle have these.
Dew claws have two joints, three bones, and a nail just like any of their other toes. You can think of dew claws as the dog equivalent to human thumbs. While our opposable thumbs allow us the ability to grab and hold objects, dew claws aren’t quite as useful.
While Fido won’t be picking up a fork or spoon anytime soon, the dew claws do help your Goldendoodle grasp objects. A prime example of this is when they’re chewing a bone and use their paws to hold it in place. Oftentimes, this involves them using their dew claws.
Another use of dew claws is for stability while running. You may not realize it, but the “wrist” of your Goldendoodle flexes so much while they’re running that both the dew claw and the “stopper pad” (located up their leg a bit more) touch the ground. The dew claw provides your dog with a bit of extra traction and stability while zooming around!
Here’s a video that provides a great demonstration:
Goldendoodle Dew Claw Removal Pros and Cons
Should a Goldendoodle’s dew claws be removed? This is a somewhat controversial subject, so let’s take a look at the argument from both sides…
Advantages of Dew Claw Removal
Advocates of dew claw removal point to their limited usability. They make the case that compared to their minimal usage, it’s not worth the risk that they may snag, tear, or otherwise be injured.
There is also a cosmetic component to dew claw removal. Some show dogs have their dew claws removed for a more “ideal” appearance.
Disadvantages to Dew Claw Removal
The first argument made by those against dew claw removal is that it’s inhumane. It’s looked at as cruel and often compared to tail docking and ear cropping. In fact, dew claw removal is actually banned in some countries.
Even though a local anesthetic is typically used to numb the pain, if you’ve seen videos of puppies getting their dew claws removed, it’s a bit hard to watch.
Not only are the ethics of this practice debatable, but there’s a case to be made that it’s largely unnecessary. Dew claw injuries are few and far between, so many people argue that it doesn’t make sense to put all puppies through the emotional and physical trauma to prevent such a rare occurrence.
Lastly, those against dew claw removal state that not only are they beneficial, but removing them can actually cause further issues such as a greater risk of arthritis.
What Should You Do?
I’m not a veterinarian, so it’s not my place to tell you what’s the best decision for your individual Goldendoodle. However, from my research, the vast majority of veterinarians tend to be on the side of leaving them be and not removing dew claws.
Here’s the recommendation from Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM published on PetMD:
“Because front dewclaws serve an important purpose, they should not be removed unless there is a very good reason to do so. In rare cases, a dog’s dewclaw may be severely injured or develop a disease (e.g., a cancerous tumor) and removal under those circumstances would certainly be in the dog’s best interests. These problems occur so infrequently, however, that removing healthy front dewclaws to prevent them makes little sense.”
When Should Dew Claws Be Removed?
Most dew claw removals occur just days after a puppy’s birth at the request of the breeder. However, if your breeder did not have them removed and you wish to do so, the next best opportunity is at the same time they get spayed or neutered.
Especially after those two opportunities have passed, you should avoid removing your dog’s dew claws unless medically required.
Please make sure that if you choose to remove your Goldendoodle’s dew claws, that the procedure is done by a veterinarian. It shouldn’t be done by a breeder and definitely shouldn’t be done by you.
Caring for Your Goldendoodle’s Dew Claws
Dew claws are easy to maintain—simply treat them as you would any other nail! Regular clipping is important. Some owners forget about their dog’s dew claws and as a result they can become overgrown, irritated, or infected!
If your Goldendoodle’s dew claw becomes torn, broken, or pulled out you need to see your local veterinarian immediately. This is extremely painful for your dog. At this point, you’ll need to discuss with your veterinarian the best approach and whether removing your Goldendoodle’s dew claws may be the best option.
Remember, accidents and injuries aren’t always cheap, especially when you have to visit the emergency veterinarian. Take the time to consider investing in pet insurance—personally, I recommend Healthy Paws. In the chance that your Goldendoodle injures their dew claw, Healthy Paws will cover up to 90% of your vet bill!