Thinking about declawing your dog? Can it be done?
Technically, yes, you can declaw a dog. That being said, it is very strongly suggested that you DO NOT do this! This is abuse.
Declawing is a process where a dog’s nail is completely removed. Sometimes part of declawing can also mean partial removal of the actual claw/foot. This is a very painful process and leaves the dog feeling crippled. For a human being, this would be like having a nail ripped out of your hand. The thought of this makes me cringe!
Reasons for declawing a dog
On very rare instances, and because of very strong medical reasons such as injury or tumor, a vet might recommend declawing one or two claws of the dog. This is very rare. For example, if a dog has a claw sort of hanging out, and not properly attached, the vet might consider declawing because he can get hurt while running or playing since it’s dangling.
There are times when a vet might declaw a dog while it is being neutered or spayed because they think it will be for their best. I would always ask the cons of keeping the claws in (how exactly will this affect your dog) before making a drastic decision.
Can a dog’s claw hurt me?
Dog claws are not sharp, and they are not meant to be for the purpose of hurting a person or another animal. Sometimes, they will scratch because they are either trying to protect themselves or because they are playing! For example, when we are playing tug, Bunk will run in circles trying to catch the rope and tug at it. He sometimes ends up scratching my hand since he’s trying to reach the rope. This is not his fault, but mine, because I decided to hold on to the rope in the first place!
Declawing a dog for behavioral issues
There have been instances where people have considered declawing because dogs are digging up holes in their yard. One thing we need to remember is that dogs will do what we let them become. If we take them out on long walks, and regularly exercise them, they will come home and sleep peacefully. Their minds and bodies will be worn out. If we leave them out in the yard all that, they will be bored (just like humans!) and will come up with ways to entertain themselves, such as digging up holes. In this instance, again, it is the owner’s responsibility to make sure the dog is properly trained and is getting its daily workout. Declawing a dog should never be used as a remedy in an instance such as this. In this instance if someone asked me can you declaw a dog for this reason, I would strongly say no.
I personally do not believe there is any dog behavior that cannot be modified through proper training and care. If you are facing some extreme issues with your dog, talk to a vet, to a dog trainer or someone else who deals with dogs and there is a lot of different things that can be tried to make sure you can correct that behavior.
For example, Bunk used to scratch his crate a lot as a puppy. Even if he had been to the bathroom, he would scratch the crate and the scratching noise drove us crazy. We could not let him out because he was so small and would run into every single thing (papers, walls, cooking oil, staples, you name it!) and destroy the house. We had to watch him every single second he was out of the crate. We finally realized, we would have to play with him until he became super tired and then put him in the crate. That’s just the solution because we decided to get a puppy and now it’s our duty to love him because he is our family. We would never consider something like declawing him for some odd reason! Think about it this way- when human babies get into things, you don’t think of cutting out their entire nails, so why do it to a dog?
Dogs and cats have different foot anatomy. Cats have sharp claws, which they can retract. Dogs have duller claws, which are not retractable. They also walk on their nails so they need them for balance; cats retract their nails and walk on their pads.
Even declawing cats is beginning to be thought of as cruel and most breeders will not allow their animals to be declawed.
Declawing a dog for cosmetic reasons
I have to admit that I am just a little disturbed by the recent trend of people painting their dog’s nails. I see it at the dog park and people post pictures of it on their blogs, Facebook pages, and Instagram profiles. I get that some think it looks cute, but seriously, it is just plain weird. However, I believe that the painting of nails and other “pet-i-cures” are harmless as long as it doesn’t go too far. Just be sure that you don’t use the wrong nail polish, which can be dangerous for your dog. Because I’m not an expert on this matter, check out I Love Dogs’ post on dog grooming products for more information. Declawing a dog for cosmetic reasons, on the other hand, is absolutely wrong and is in no way shape or form beneficial for your dog and does not make him or her more attractive. In fact, it looks so disturbing that I refuse to publish anything like it on this post. I will, however, share with you this fantastic picture of an Bulldog getting a pedicure from the 1950s I found on Yorkblog.com
Dog claw anatomy
Dogs need their claws to provide traction on surfaces when walking or running. The faster the breed, the more important their claws are. It can actually contact the ground and help with traction when a zooming dog is “cornering”. You probably won’t see this in a lumbering Newfoundland, but you may in a Border Collie doing agility. Dogs also use their claws as “thumbs”. My dog uses his to stabilize a bone for chewing. And studies have shown that removal of the claw (particularly the attached “non-floppy” kind) can lead to increased incidence of arthritis in the carpus (wrist) because the claw helps with stabilization of that joint. A dog without claws will not be able to walk or balance properly, which could have long-term effects on their joints and muscles. Many vets will not declaw a dog for this reason.
In many countries, such as England, declawing is considered to be cruel and is illegal. In America, I doubt any reputable vet will agree to declaw a dog unless there are some severe medical reasons.
If your dog’s nails are scratching furniture, you can go to the groomer and just get the nail trimmed! It costs less than $10 usually. Sometimes, with Bunk the pug, they sort of file the nail to make it a little blunt but he hardly even gets them cut a lot. Dogs should get nails trimmed like humans because it’s hurtful for them to walk when the nails grow out but that is NOT the same thing as declawing!
For more information on trimming a dog’s nails, read our article How to Cut a Dogs’ Nails.
Some nail clippers for dogs have two cutting edges, while others of the guillotine type have one. Either type is satisfactory. Nail clippers designed for humans do not work well because a dog’s nails are not flat the way a person’s are.