Why Remove Dew Claws On Labs

Do labs have rear dew claws? Yes, but some choose to remove them. 

Dew claws on Labradors are a subject of ongoing debate among dog owners and breeders alike.

While some argue that these small, thumb-like appendages serve purposes such as enhancing the grip and providing additional support during movement, others believe they pose risks for injury and infection.

What Are Labradors Dew Claws?

Why Remove a Labs Dewclaws

Dew claws are tiny, thumb-like toes on the front legs of most dog breeds, including Labradors, and some have them on their rear legs too.

Front and rear dewclaws do have a purpose. They provide extra support during movement and help with climbing out of water or maintaining a good grip when running.

Some Labrador owners may choose to remove them due to possible risks of injury or infection, aesthetic preference, or reduced risk of tearing or snagging.

The presence of dew claws does not affect the way a dog runs.

Why Consider Removing Them?

Possible Risks Of Injury And Infection

Dew claws on Labs, found on the inner side of their legs just above the paws, are essentially vestigial nails that do not touch the ground. While some owners might view these extra nails as harmless and a natural part of their dog’s anatomy, there are potential risks associated with keeping them intact.

One significant risk is injury, where dew claws catch or snag onto something during play or exercise.

Aside from the immediate pain your Lab might experience due to an injury, infections can also develop if proper care isn’t taken after an incident occurs.

For example, if a torn dew claw goes unnoticed and untreated for too long or becomes embedded in your dog’s flesh, it may cause inflammation and bacterial infection at the site.

Moreover, hind dew claws that don’t receive regular nail trims could grow into your Lab’s skin creating ingrown nails – another source of pain and potential infection.

Aesthetic Preference

Aesthetic preference is another factor that may contribute to removing dew claws on Labs. Some Labrador owners and breeders believe that a Lab without rear dew claws presents a more streamlined and polished appearance, which can be desirable in show dogs or for pet owners who prefer this look.

However, it’s important to note that aesthetic preference should not be the primary reason for removing your dog’s dew claws. This decision must consider factors such as possible injury risks or infections rather than just visual appeal.

Reduced Risk Of Tearing Or Snagging

One of the primary reasons dog owners and breeders choose to remove dew claws on Labs is to reduce the risk of tearing or snagging. Dew claws are sometimes seen as vestigial structures, which means they have lost their original function and can potentially present more harm than benefit.

For example, a Labrador Retriever that runs through thick brush or rough terrain may be at an increased risk for dew claw injuries.

By removing dew claws early in a Lab puppy’s life, pet owners can minimize these risks and ensure a safer experience for their active companions when outdoors. Breeders like Renee Adsitt-Pettey of Peak even opt to remove dew claws from puppies within days after birth during routine procedures such as tail docking.

Most vets don’t recommend dewclaw removal unless there is a medical reason.

The Dew Claw Removal Process For Labs

Dew claw removal is a surgical procedure that can be completed on labs as young as five days old. After receiving general anesthesia, the dew claws are removed using sterilized instruments and suturing materials.

The healing process usually takes one to two weeks, during which post-surgery care should be provided.

It’s important to note that removing dew claws comes with some risks. Some dogs may experience carpal arthritis or injuries to other joints when they lose their dew claws, as these structures provide stability to their legs.


Ultimately, deciding whether or not to remove your Lab’s Dew claws should come down to personal preference and potential benefits versus risks.

Your author has had Labradors for decades, and he’s never had a problem with dewclaws. Just hit it with the nail clipper when you do your dog’s nails, and he or she will be fine.