Take a look at your hand and focus on your thumb, a dew claw can be considered a dog's thumb, it is higher up on the paw, has a toenail, and never reaches the ground like their other nails do. Dew claws are located on the inside of the front paws and some extra special dogs even have them on their back paws but it is not very common.
When calling about a Cockapoo puppy people often ask me if I remove the dew claws and the answer is no, I do not remove them, and do not see a need to. Because dew claws do not touch the ground their nails do not get worn down like the other ones do, hence their need to be monitored and clipped more often than the other nails. Some people simply do not like to maintain or clip their dogs nails so they remove the dew claws, usually when the puppies are first born, or when their pet is getting spayed or neutered. Sometimes dew claws do not grow properly, they can dangle or grow inwards resulting in them getting caught on things or snagged, so it is important to monitor them and if you see an issue it would be a good idea to discuss it with your vet. If you are adamant about adopting a puppy that has their dew claws removed please check with the breeder before submitting a deposit. I have had customers reserve a puppy and then ask later if I would remove the dew claws and the answer is still 'no,' it's just not something that I do. If a puppy having their dew claws is a deal breaker for you than I am not the right breeder to get a puppy from.
The reason I do not remove dew claws is because my dogs have theirs and I have never had any problems with them, I view it as an unnecessary cosmetic surgery (just like tail docking.) I do monitor my dogs dew claws on a regular basis and clip them as needed.
Removing a dew claw is the equivalent of amputating your thumb, during the surgery the vet will remove the entire toe and claw and your dog must wear bandages during the healing process. Most people choose to have this procedure done while their dogs are getting spayed or neutered so that they don't have to go under anesthesia more than once and they also save on multiple trips to the vet.
When you first get a puppy that has their dew claws I suggest keeping an eye on their paws for the first few months, if you don't have any issues with their dew claws I do not see a reason to remove them. If you find that they are abnormal, floppy, or getting tangled on things then I suggest discussing it with your vet to see if they should be removed. If you do keep them make sure you clip them on a regular basis.
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