How Many Toes Does A Dog Have?

Who hasn’t looked at their dog and thought “This dog isn’t normal!”?  Whether your dog is being goofy or naughty, they have likely made you think that more than once.

When it comes to anatomy however you most likely want a normal dog.  In this article we’ll explore what you should know about your dog’s toes.

So, how many toes does a dog have? The quick and easy answer is: Dogs typically have 18 toes.  Five toes (including the dewclaw) on each front foot and four toes on the back feet.  Some larger breeds have more toes.

What Is A Dog Dewclaw?

The dewclaw on a dog is a little farther back than the other toes on a dog’s front leg.  While not as common, it is natural for some dog’s to also have a dewclaw on their hind legs too.

If you watch your dog standing or walking, you’ll see it doesn’t even touch the ground.  But when a dog starts running fast, its foot will bend more, and you’ll see the dewclaw making contact with the ground.

The dewclaw can act similar to a thumb for dogs when they are trying to move things around.  They won’t be able to fully grasp something like you can with it, but it will give them greater control.

If your dog doesn’t have any dewclaws, don’t be alarmed.  Dewclaws can be easy for a dog to injure, and it may have had its dewclaws removed before you adopted your best friend.

Should I Remove My Dog’s Dewclaw?

Because dewclaws are prone to injury, some dog owners consider removing the dewclaw before something bad happens. 

Even with good intentions, you shouldn’t have your dog’s dewclaws removed without a very good reason.  If it has been injured in a way that it won’t heal well or something else extremely bad happens your dog should keep its dewclaws. 

If your dog is injured severely and you think the dewclaw should be removed, consult with your veterinarian first.  They should help you make the correct decision. 

Caring For A Dog’s Dewclaw

Taking care of your good boy or girl’s dewclaw won’t be much different than how you care for your dog’s other nails.  If your dog is active and frequently runs around, the nails should file down naturally and will require very little effort from you.

If your dog is older and more sedentary, you’ll need to give the dewclaw the same amount of care you give their other nails.  The dewclaw, if it isn’t cared for, can become ingrown and infected.  So, make sure you do your part to be a good owner!

Dog Breeds With Extra Toes

Mainly larger breeds will have extra toes.  This usually presents itself in the form of one or two dewclaws on the hind feet.  Saint Bernards, Great Pyrenese and Beaucerons are examples of breeds that will often have an extra dewclaw or two.

Unlike the front dewclaws, these rear dewclaws don’t serve much of a purpose anymore.  This is probably why most dog breeds have lost their rear dewclaws through evolution.

If your dog has dew claws in the back but its breed normally doesn’t, don’t worry about it.  It isn’t something that will hurt them. 

Summary: How Many Toes Does A Dog Have?

Most dogs have five toes on each front leg and four on the back legs.  The extra front fifth toe is called the dewclaw.  Some dogs will also have one or two extra dewclaws on the back feet too.

There’s no need to have the dewclaw removed unless there is serious injury to it.

When you are taking care of your dog’s other claws, don’t forget about the dewclaw! 

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