Dew Claw Lesson


Double rear dew claws are common in Great Pyrenees. With most breeds of dogs, if they have dew claws, they are on the front, so Great Pyrs are a little weird that way. (A dew claw is sorta like a dog thumb, only higher on the paw so it doesn’t touch the ground.) If you’re worried about the dew claw catching on something–if the dew claw seems particularly loose–you can have it removed by a vet. It is, however, fairly major surgery, like having a thumb amputated. It’s always an individual decision, but if you leave your dog’s dew claws, it’s important to keep them trimmed.

And so, goat farmer friends Pete and Missy came out to show me how. First, they plopped the Giant Puppy on her back like she was a gnat. They are tough goat farmers.

My problem is I don’t know where to cut.

Luckily, Great Pyrs have light-colored claws, which are easier to cut than dark ones.

You can see the blood vessels and nerves that show you the difference between the quick and the nail more readily. Cut just below the quick. If you cut too far, into the quick, a dog will let you know!

Of course, Pete didn’t do that. Lucky for Coco I was just observing.

I’m sure Pete won’t mind coming back in a few months to do it again.

And a few months after that.

Okay, okay, I’m going to do it myself next time. Swear!

So then Coco, who didn’t protest a bit because she thought she was there to get her belly rubbed, finally got her wish….

….and got her belly rubbed for being such a good, brave Giant Pup while her nails were clipped.

And rubbed some more. Cuz she’s got a hard life and all.

Honey: “I think she’d like some vinegar!”

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on November 14, 2008  

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31 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 11-14

    I HATE cutting my dogs nails…so much so that I throw her in the truck and take her to the vet. Luckily, he only charges $5, I think he feels really sorry for me.

  2. 11-14

    My husband always cut our dog’s nails. Sometimes he’d cut a little to far, and yes she would let us know. He’d also put the pills down her throat, when needed. Don’t know what we’d done without him, we were a bunch of scaredy cats when it came to doing things like that.

  3. 11-14

    Great Pyrenees are such great farm dogs. Many of the farmers around here have them. We actually bought one of those things they sell on TV for filing down the dogs nails. It works really well but actually it takes awhile to file them down, so it depends on how patient the dog is.

    – Suzanne, the Farmer’s Wife

  4. 11-14

    Coco- what a brave girl you are and so patient! Now go teach those goats….just DON’T drink anything Honey has to offer. :woof:

  5. 11-14

    My goodness, she’s getting big! Are you sure you didn’t accidentally purchase a bear?

  6. 11-14

    Oh my – i am sweating just looking at those clippers and poor coco. i have the groomer cut my dogs nails. I cant stand it. one vet use to cut them too short and my dog would cry out. i hated that!!! i changed vets too.

    wow – what it takes to have a goat dog and goats – with vinegar and all!!! who knew???

  7. 11-14

    My little granddog totally panics when it’s time to cut her nails. She’s a Jack Russell and all muscle. It takes two of us to do the job, and it’s still “iffy.” She’s getting one of those doggy manicure thingys they advertise on TV for Christmas. Hope she puts up with that better.

    She had dew claws on the back. She kept getting them caught in her collar when she’d scratch. One time, she got one of them caught really badly and ripped it nearly off. It was awful. We then had them both removed. It was major surgery, but no more claw accidents.

    It’s a good thing Coco is more compliant than Sassy. I can’t imagine corralling that much protesting dog for such a procedure.

  8. 11-14

    Good thing she didn’t give you a hard time…she’s getting BIG!

  9. 11-14

    I was unaware of the double rear dew claw on a GP- how interesting! One of the reasons they are removed is for dogs which spend time in crusty snow. They can be very dangerous if the dog breaks through crusted ice on top of snow, the ice can actually amputate the dew claw, or cause some serious bleeding. My breeder removed dew claws from her hunting labs at 4 days, so the healing was done before it ever became an issue – it definitely is an issue in older dogs, and I wouldn’t do it. But man, those were some wicked dew claws.

  10. 11-14

    I just cut my brown lab puppy’s nails and she was NOT as compliant as Coco!!!!

  11. 11-14

    When we raise a litter of labs we always have the dew claws removed by the vet when they are just tiny little puppies. It’s easier at that stage…and the added benefit is you don’t have to worry about them getting caught and ripped when they are doing their normal dog thing. :)

  12. 11-14

    I cut my dogs claws myself. They don’t like it and neither do I. Sometimes I must have The Captain help. But they are getting used to it and learning to tolerate it. By the time I’m getting to the last few they are starting to squirm. It’s easier and faster if someone else holds them.
    But my dogs aren’T GIANT dogs, either.

    I think Honey just wants to share the torture. tee hee

  13. 11-14

    I can’t imagine cutting any of the nails on the Giant Puppy. I don’t even have the courage to try cutting nails on my 9-pound cat!!! Long ago I did, however, cut the nails on a wonderful part-human German Shepherd I had in CA, but like other posters mentioned, his dew claws had been removed when he was a very young puppy. :catmeow:

  14. 11-14

    I’m off to Wally World to buy one of those doggie manicure thingies too. I wonder if it works on kitties too?

  15. 11-14

    I hate cutting our dogs nails! They aren’t fond of it either. Which reminds me, they are past due. Esp. the collie!

    Many years ago our first dog was begging while we were eating some chips. We told him “No begging.” but he wouldn’t listen. Sooo, we finally gave him a great big ol’ chip, which he gobbled up. Then proceeded to lick the carpet to get the taste of salt and vinegar of his tongue! We felt a little bad, but mostly we just laughed. (we’re so bad) ;)

  16. 11-14

    Suzanne (or anyone else who knows)

    Are goats like horses in that they will eat the bark off trees?


  17. 11-14

    Ah..dew claws. Our four year old Pyr, Noah, came in the other night and collapsed on the floor. He could not walk at all. Kept crying like a wimpy dog. Turns out one dew claw from left back foot had interlocked with a dew claw from right back foot. Poor “drama queen” could not walk. When I separated them and told him he could get up, he jumped to his feet and said “I’m HEALED!”. Later he let his bad mommy trim his claws so we won’t have any more drama.

  18. 11-14

    Cutting claws ranks down there with using a plunger on a stopped up toliet. A less than pleasant task. My old Jack Russell terrier alwasy allowed the vet to do it, but I never managed to trim his nails. I think the vet used a muzzle.

  19. 11-14

    You know, there are some things I’m willing to just pay the vet to do.

    You really are a big, tough farm woman!

  20. 11-14

    Good girl, Coco! My mom and sister cut our cat’s and dog’s nails. The two cats are easy to do once each is wrapped in a towel. Our dog is the difficult one because his nails are black and he definitely lets them know when they have gone to far.

  21. 11-14

    I have four dogs, all with black nails. I HATE THIS PART. I have given up and just have it done when I kennel them……
    cannot cope…..would be a really bad farm gal.

  22. 11-14

    I’ve always done my dogs nails myself, luckily they let me do what I want to them without a fuss!

  23. 11-14

    Coco is getting sooooo big!

  24. 11-14

    I cut our cats nails. All seven of them, even the cat who sounds like she’s possessed when I’m clipping. *G*

  25. 11-14

    What a great blog you have!!! One of my readers told me about your blog and I am so very glad!!


  26. 11-14

    Our second dog had black nails – a disaster. We bought this anticeptic powder that would stop the bleeding because usually we’d goof on at least one nail. We all hated nail time. And now my daughter has a black dog and first nail, first cut they went too deep. Our vets charge for an entire visit so it’s really not affordable. I don’t even try my 6 cats because my first one was so frantic about the whole thing. But I won’t have them taken out either – just don’t believe in it.

  27. 11-17

    We’ve got two dogs: one with black claws, the other with light-colored ones. Both their nails were getting really *really* long, and my daughter and I were trying to figure out the best way to clip them. We finally bought PediPaws, and my daughter went to work on them. Their nails are almost at acceptable lengths now!

    The light-nailed dog had major dew claw curling, and it took us a few days and lots of patience to get them cut back.

  28. 11-18

    Who could resist that sweet giant puppy!!!!! I would love to rub Coco’s tummy!

  29. 12-28

    Glad to hear the positive comments about the Pedi-Paws thing. It looks good on TV but you know how that goes.

    A Dremmel tool also works great, if you have the patience for it. Anyone know if the Pedi-Paws is quieter than a Dremmel? With no guard on it, using the Dremmel has it’s own hazards to both the user and the critter.

    It really is a good idea to remove the dew claws on newborn pups. It eliminates a lot of grief later in life.

  30. 2-1

    My dog didnt like the noise of the Pedi-paws. Wouldnt let me touch his nails. He is a chihuahua. Hates his nails cut they are always getting caught in things.I cut about one nail every two weeks, its really a feasco! :woof: :snoopy: :woof: :snoopy: :woof: :snoopy:

  31. 2-23

    I used to trim my cats’ claws. I’d just do one or two at a time when they were relaxed, so it was not a big thing.

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