All Staffies have dewclaws on their front legs, and they look like an extra digit that sits just above the foot. Owners must remember the dewclaw when cutting and trimming the dog’s nails. If not, the nail will continue growing, eventually digging into the dog’s leg.
What Are Dewclaws?
Dewclaws look like an extra toenail just above the dog’s foot; needless to say, they don’t come into contact with the ground. People often refer to the dewclaw as the dog’s thumb, but quite honestly, it’s not a very apt description.
If your dog has dewclaws and you take hold of the nail, you can wiggle the dewclaw around a little moving it backward and forwards. If you take hold of the dewclaw just behind the nail, you will feel the tendons that attach the nail to the dog’s leg.
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There being tendons present does make it seem that dewclaws might serve some essential purpose for the dog, and removing them might not be such a good idea. However, this typically only applies to front dewclaws; hind leg dewclaws don’t have any purpose, and there are no attaching tendons.
A 2018 survey of risk factors for digit injuries in dogs suggested, among other things, that retaining health dewclaws decreased the chances of digit injuries. Furthermore, they found that injuries occurred more frequently to the outside toe (fifth digit) while the dewclaw was the least injured.
The consensus over the years has been the dewclaw serves no useful purpose; however, it now seems the declaw may be necessary to stabilise the dog’s front legs when they run.
When running, the dog’s leading leg angle places the dewclaw on the ground adding stability; likewise, when the dog turns sharply, the dewclaw digs into the ground, preventing torque. Removing healthy dewclaws for aesthetic purposes or because an owner believes the dog might tear a dewclaw damage the carpal ligaments and increase stress on the leg and shoulder bones and joints.
Many vets refuse to remove the front dewclaws, and with good reason, unless the dog has experienced several previous accidents tearing the dewclaws and experiencing a great deal of pain.
Most dog breeds have dewclaws; some have them on their hind legs. There are cases of dogs having an extra toe (polydactyl), including breeds like the St, Bernard.
Do Staffies Have Dewclaws?
Staffies do have dewclaws on the front legs. If a dog happens to be born with dewclaws on the hind legs, breeders generally get the vet to remove them two to five days after birth.
Some breeders might ask their vet to remove all four sets of dewclaws, although that’s typically not the case.
Do Staffordshire Bull Terriers Have Rear Dewclaws
Typically, Staffords don’t have dewclaws on their hind legs. If any puppy is born with rear dewclaws, vets usually remove them within a few days of being delivered.
Should Dewclaws Be Removed or Trimmed?
As we discussed a little earlier, removing healthy dewclaws isn’t recommended. They do serve a purpose; in fact, they serve a few. As mentioned, the five tendons that attach to the front dewclaws help provide stability and support to the dog’s leg when the animal is running and turning. Removing the dewclaws could place undue stress on bones and joints. Dewclaws also help dogs climb trees, and if you observe your dog when they are chewing, they often hold the item in place with a dewclaw.
Trimming dewclaws is crucial. The dewclaw nails grow just the same as the dog’s toenails. If left untrimmed, the nail will continue to grow and curve towards the leg, causing the dog pain. Because the dewclaw doesn’t contact the ground like the other toenails, it can’t wear down naturally. By not regularly trimming the nails on the dewclaw, owners potentially add to the dog’s risk of tearing the dewclaw and a severe injury.
How to Cut Staffy Claws
Two main types of nail trimmers are the guillotine and the scissors types. Scissor types are suitable for cutting long nails. If left unchecked, a dog’s nails will continue growing into the nail pad; you see this more frequently with the dewclaw because owners tend to forget about this nail.
Place the scissors-type cutter at right angles to the nail. The cutting blade will slide across the stationary ring.
Darker claws are always more difficult because it’s harder to see the quick. If you inadvertently cut into the quick, it will bleed, and the dog will be in pain. If you can see the quick clearly, aim to cut within 2mm of it; if the dark nail obscures the quick, make a few minor cuts to cut down the risk of accidentally nicking the quick.
To get a smooth finish to the nail, use a file on the end of the nail.
Best Nail Clippers for Staffies
Professional Nail Clippers for Dogs with Quick Sensor and Lock
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- Adjustable clipping area size
One thing every Staffy parent fears when trimming their dog’s nails is cutting into the quick. It’s nerve-wracking for all of us, and if you’ve ever accidentally cut into the quick, the blood and yelps of pain are enough to put you off for life. So, the protective guard to prevent over-trimming is a welcome safety feature.
Before trimming, you’ll need to rotate the guard behind the nails, allowing the nail tip to rest against the guard. This, in turn, reduces the amount of nail you can cut each time.
The nail clippers are designed by two vets and used every day on pets in their practice. The clippers are lightweight with non-slip rubber handles, which provide an excellent and comfortable grip for the Staffy owner ( who by this time will probably be experiencing sweaty palms, so grip is crucial).
A Staffy’s nails are pretty strong, but these handle large and strong nails very well; they are exceptionally sharp.
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