Before we got Mauja, I had researched the Great Pyrenees for months. Even though I had never met one, I was confident that it was the right breed for my family and that I could successfully care for one. I spent hours learning about the things that make Great Pyrenees unique, including the double dew claws.

At Mauja’s first vet visit, the vet brought up her dew claws and how strange it was that they were attached by a bone. I tried to explain the Great Pyrenees breed standard and why the double dews were useful, but she was not convinced. Every visit until her spay, I received a lecture on why I needed to remove her dews. Eventually, we decided to take her to a different vet for her spay because I was terrified the vet would remove her double dews without my permission.

Thus began my mission to help educate about the necessity of the double dew claws on the Great Pyrenees.

Have you ever seen them before? I love the looks on people’s faces as the notice the double dews on Mauja and Atka. There’s always the double take followed by the, “are they supposed to be there?” question.

PicMonkey Collage3As you can see above, there’s a pad with two toenails slightly higher on the foot. That’s a pyr’s double dews.

It is commonly believed that dewclaws need to be removed, preferably as soon as possible. While this is true for some breeds, it does not apply to the Great Pyrenees. Many breeds have floppy dew claws that can easily snag and rip. If you dog isn’t a working dog, vets typically remove them at a young age.

The double dew claws on the Great Pyrenees are very strong due to being attached by a bone; they act as a sort of thumb for the dog and are surprisingly useful.

I love watching Mauja and Atka run around and make use of their extra toes. The dews help grip the ground for turning, climbing, descending, and jumping. I’ve never seen Atka jump, but Mauja uses her dews when she jumps!

Removing the double dews is highly discouraged due to being extremely painful and is ultimately detrimental the dog. Due to being attached by a bone, it is very uncommon for them to snag when taken care of properly. This means ensuring regular trimming to prevent the nail from growing too long and back into the pad, which would be very painful for the dog.

My experience with Mauja taught me that it’s great to ask your vet for advice but always do your own research. Talk to people involved with the breed, such as reputable breeders, people who show dogs, and rescue workers to help learn the most accurate information.

Have you ever seen a dog with double dew claws?

64 comments on “Double Dew Claws”

  1. I never thought much about dew claws until I got my corgis. My first corgi had his, and snagged one so badly it broke off, got infected, etc. it was awful! When I got Wilson, I made sure his had been removed. Cardigan breeders tend to have them removed at only a couple days old before there is much development. It is much less painful that way. On a breed with longer (normal?) legs, I don’t think there is much need to remove them.

    • Wow, that would have to be so painful! My parents have Berners, which have the single floppy dew claws. Their dews were removed when they were fixed for that same reason. The floppy ones seem to snag so easily!

      • Oddly enough, my Shih-Tzu has dews on all four.
        Harry was a stray.
        When we took him home I couldn’t put him down. I wanted to cuddle him morning till night. I found his rear dew claws growing back into himself.
        I cut them back. Pulled them out of his pads.
        As I have been reading this article an your stories, I was happy Harry is not the only dog that uses his rear dew claws for climbing.
        We all know, Harry is not a “jumper”. Harry is a climbing animal. A fantastic “foot warmer” as he is!
        My point is this. I have, as well, a polydactyl cat. One factly has a bone she can utilise. The other is a skin flap with an extremely long sharp nail.
        I am constantly petrified she will rip that thumb off as she has no control over that digit.
        At 11 years old, she is quite aware of herself.
        She has a viable opposing thumb.:)

  2. Wow that was interesting! I had no clue that they have two of this claws. As I met the first pyrenees dog of my life I was puzzled about the size … and even Easy was silent and impressed for some minutes :o)

  3. My Tucker, who is some kind of terrier mix has double dew claws. He doesn’t look like there’s any Pyr in him, though. When I asked the vet about it, her advice was to leave them unless they cause trouble. That’s one of the reasons I like my vet. Why cause pain needlessly, right?

    Wags (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats

    • sunshine my lab mix with a smaller dog is double dew claw. she is kneehigh and about 42lbs. she likes swimming, retrieving and hiking. I trim her extra nails regularly.

      • We have a lab pit mix and the vet removed the double dew claw (she had only one) due to it being floppy and unattached. Our pittie is a digger and in a chain link. We feared injury. We had it removed while she was under for being spayed.

  4. Thanks for the lesson in dewclaws that have a purpose. One of my dogs snagged a dewclaw and we had to have it removed, surgery, an e-collar, and a vet bill.

  5. Wow that’s interesting I never knew some breeds had double dews…good thing you changed vets..they certainly sound ignorant!

  6. I had no idea that was the breed standard. I’m glad you decided to go with a different vet, even though they’re well educated it certainly doesn’t mean they can’t be stubborn know-it-alls….

    If there’s no benefit to removing them I’m just surprised a vet would recommend it. Seems an awful lot like declawing cats. Glad to see that trend is on a decline.

    • For Pyrs, it is definitely a lot like declawing cats! It’s so sad to see that they’ve been removed. The single, floppy dews can be problematic so they are often removed very early.

      • We have a golden retriever mix.we saw her mom so know that is part of her. She is all black with a little white. She has very long legs. She has double dew claws on her back paws, She is scheduled to be spayed and have those removed at the end of month. She will be 4 months old on the 21st. It was said by a shelter worker she could be part great pyreneese or new foundland. I am really struggling with having them removed. Any advice

    • Now that is interesting! I’ve only seen one set of triple dews on a pyr. The owners called it a ‘mutant toe’ because it essentially grew off of one of the attached dew claws. They had to get it removed because it was causing a lot of issues. Do you know if the sire passed on the triple dews to any of the pups? How unique!

  7. I actually knew that about Pyrs. I have met a few over the years.

    Our dogs have dew claws removed as very young pups. Freighter’s grew back. Or rather it was some cartilage and a bit of skin. Our vet has an orthopedic vet on staff so between him and our regular vet we decided to have it removed since Freighter is a hunting dog. Orthopedic vet has had to fix a few ripped dew claws over the years. Turned out that Freighter’s was a very minor surgery, more of a snip and he was in the show ring two weeks later.

        • I didnt know they were attached by bone. I have a Pyr and I love them! I think they are cool! I would never have them removed unless there was a problem!

        • I rescued a lab/Shepard mix. The vet said he may have Pyrenees in him because he has double dew claws in both back legs. One is actually attached while the other just hangs there. They do t want to remove it unless the have to maybe just the ones not attached. They are up really far about 3 inches from the ground.

  8. My favorite dog I ever owned was a Pyrs & everyone used to get freaked out about her Dews! I can’t wait to get another one of these breed dogs, my Sparta passed away a while ago & I’ve never been able to love another dog the same way!

  9. I guess you learn something new everyday! I don’t have pets (hubby’s allergic) but I’ve only had small dogs growing up. Very interesting.

  10. This is the first time I have really ever heard of dewclaws. I have to agree with you that you should do your research in addition to obtaining advice from vets. I know of cases where vets are very knowledgeable of dogs in general however when it comes to an actual breed they are unsure and often make assumptions.

  11. What do you do when 1 of the double dew claws (top) grows into the pad?? What is your opinion on this? We have our pyr groomed regularly & nails clipped, so I don’t know how this 1 got into this kind of shape & I can tell that it is very painful to her?? Any suggestions??

  12. We have a male and female chiweeine. They just had a litter of 5 4 have dewclaws like the daddy one of which has a double on one foot. I find this very interesting.

  13. Whoa! I had no idea any dog had double dew claws. In the breed standard link, it says the front is a single dewclaw and the double dew claws are on the rear paws, is that true?

  14. If you think pyrs have interesting dew claws, you should check out the Norwegian Lundehund, talk about interesting feet. Strange, but practical, dogs.

  15. Briards also have double dews as breed standard. My Briard, Lucky, uses his double dews when he runs circles, neat to see!

  16. I know I probably will repeat some stuff. I have a Border Collie/ Pyrenees mix with double dewclaws. Which to most people that isn’t much. Dewclaws are often removed when the pup is fixed etc. If you adopted the puppy (mine was almost a rescue, but not there yet…glad I got him) they probably had those removed. The dewclaws with the bones just seem normal. My 3 yr old still has both sets without any issues. He isn’t a working dog. He does live inside. I was told by the vet, until it becomes a problem. I trusted him. That wasn’t the only vet and that was a vet I would have trusted to treat me. My mom is a dog groomer, she hates the floppy ones (which he has), but that is what majority of dogs have and humans remove them.

  17. Hi Kelsie! I just took in my first Pyr foster yesterday, inspired by the great temperament of my wonderful Pyr mix Mr. Watson. Watson doesn’t have the double dews and although I knew that was part of the breed I’d forgotten all about it until Verona jumped out of the car. Wow!! They’re really impressive — and weird, and a little creepy, and SUPER cool, and you do have the initial instinct that disaster is going to strike at any moment. I’m so glad you wrote this article and described your experience. Knowing they’re attached by bone is really reassuring, and remembering that they’re an actual tool for these dogs, not a vestigial nail, is important. Thanks so much!

  18. My female Marlie I got about a month ago she’s 12 weeks now. The dad was a Great Pyrenees black lab mix and the mom was a Boston terrier jack RUSSEL mix maybe a little chihuahua in her too. She has double dewclaws on both her back paws and just one on both her front paws. She looks like a Black and Tan Jack RUSSEL. Tried to put up a photo but wouldn’t work. Very pretty puppy at about 7lbs.

  19. We are going through this issue right jow. Our dog is 13 weeks old and our vet told us it was an inbred trait that he shouldnt have so of course we said yes. But now doing our research i dont think we shoukd go through with it. HELP?!?!?!

  20. Glad to find your post. I recently lost my Great Pyr/Akbash and he did not have double dews. We just purchased two females and when I was trimming their nails and I got to the back paws . . .there were double dews! Quite weird/creepy at first. I knew the Great Pyr used the dew claws for climbing and they were not to be removed. One of the pups nails had curled almost into the pad so I will have to keep a close watch. So glad you made this post.

  21. we just got a puppy its a pit mix don’t know the mix part but she has a double dewclaw on one back foot an a single dewclaw on the other back foot. she is almost 8 weeks old and they don’t seem to bother her at all

  22. Great article. I am writing a post on dew claws and came upon yours while researching. One of my dogs has all 4 dew claws and the other two do not. I agree about them being very useful for the dog.

  23. We just got a pup that was thrown out on side of highway with a couch! Great pyrenee mix with not sure thinking heeler..I was going to have his dble dews removed they seem floppy to me…I didnt realize they are supposed to be useful to them..hmm maybe ill be rethinking this removal..wanna show you a pic and see what you you have a facebook page? Im under Kat Siler may e can message me

  24. Our Estrela Mountain dog had rear double dew claws. We received many curious inquiries about “Starlight”, as many had never seen the breed before. Wonderful dog.

  25. Hello. Thank you for the article on dew claws. My Pyr has double dew claws. The vet says they are not attached by bone and I should remove them. Popular opinion is not to but they flop and seem to serve no purpose. Not sure what to do?

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