Rottweiler Dew Claws: An Owner’s Essential Guide

Rottweiler dew claws

You may be new to the Rottweiler parenting game, your enthusiasm when it comes to researching this wonderful breed may have led you down some interesting rabbit holes, one such being “the removal of Rottweiler dew claws”. 

Why is it that so many breeders or owners remove their Rottweiler’s dew claws? Are there legitimate reasons for doing so, or is this just more of a trend, much like docking tails was. 

There appears to be different opinions on this. On one hand, it appears to be very popular to owners or breeders who have experience in producing show dogs. We also see vets occasionally recommending it, usually at the same time as spaying. However, other owners appear to disagree with it entirely, calling it unnecessary. 

Perhaps you’re wondering which side of the fence you’re on, well … we’ve scoured the Rottie forums, spoke to breed enthusiasts and consulted a vet. 

Here’s what we found…

Did You Know Rottweilers Have 4 Dew Claws?

Most other dog breeds only have dew claws on their front two feet, whereas Rottweiler’s (and a handful of other breeds such as Saint Bernard’s & Great Pyrenees) are more unique. The Rottie has four dew claws. Although it must be said that this isn’t always the case 100% of the time and some Rottweiler puppies are born without the rear dew claws. 

The reason for having four dew claws is likely due to their worker dog background. Having the ability for extra traction, speed and agility in tough terrain was likely desirable in the earlier origins of the breed. 

However, these days it’s unlikely that your Rottie will be pulling carts, minding the livestock all day or assisting you on a forest hunt. 

Many breed experts appear to agree that the rear dew claws are next to useless in today’s environment, but are careful to ensure that front dew claws are still highly functional.

Why do dogs have dew claws?

Why do Rottweilers Have Dew Claws Removed?

Depending on where you sit within this debate, there may be a handful of reasons for why you might remove dew claws. However, the main two reasons are largely down to:

Prevention of Infection or injury

The main reason for rear dew claw removal is typically due to infection or bruising. This is usually the case with active dogs because they have the potential to get caught or snagged whilst either out on a walk or playing at home. Injury to the rear dew claws is likely painful and can result in infection if not treated correctly. 

A good analogy for rear dew claws is to compare them to human wisdom teeth. They’re kind of there, but not overly useful and sometimes cause us a lot of pain. 

Let’s be honest here, the non-existence of rear dew claws in the majority of dog breeds should indicate that they’re not exactly essential. I don’t think you’d find many others who oppose this point of view. 

Common sense would suggest that you should seek to remove your Rottweilers rear dew claws when it’s a young puppy. Typically, the rear dew claws are connected by skin, they should hang loose. Although, best to confirm with your vet, removal of the rear dew claws will likely not cause significant pain, unless they’re attached to bone in which case surgery will be required.

Show Dog Standards

Unfortunately, some breeds are required to remove their dew claws (all of them) for shows. Judges preferring a “cleaner look” is the motivating factor here. And although times are changing and some judges now prefer a natural look which has been pushed by the AKC, we can’t help but wonder why owners would subject their dog to such subjective reasoning. It’s borderline ridiculous. 

What’s more, the front dew claws are typically attached to bone. They act almost like a thumb. This likely requires surgery, expensive vet bills and quite a bit of pain for your loved companion. 
Avoid breeders that automatically remove all dew claws on their Rottweilers. They will usually do this at the same time as cutting/docking their tails, a practice which is now banned in many places. Breeders such as this are more concerned with the aesthetics of what they see as a product, and do not share enough concern for the ongoing wellbeing of the dog.

Should you remove Rottweiler dew claws?

Ultimately this decision is up to you. Removing the rear dew claws is common practice and common sense, you’re protecting them from future infection and injury. However, removal of the front dew claws is unnecessary in the vast majority of cases and is less humane. 

Additionally, removing the rear dew claws means that you have 2 less nails to cut and trim. Although dew claws usually grow slower than other nails, this is not a grooming routine that your Rottweiler likely enjoys. 

Is it cruel to remove dew claws?

This really depends on where you stand on the issue. The removal of the rear dew claws is common and not something to feel guilty about as they are attached to loose skin and likely painless (to a degree) to remove. Arguably, you’re also saving yourself future trips to the vet to clear up infections and cuts in case they snag in the future. 

However, I do believe that the removal of the front dew claws is cruel. These will not only be painful to remove as they’re attached to bone, but also have a negative impact on their functional day to day experience whilst walking, running, exploring and playing. Removal of the front dew claws is purely for vanity reasons.

How late can you remove dew claws?

Most dew claws are removed in the first week (4-7 days) of the puppies life, this can be done by the breeder or by the vet. However, if they are not removed at this point then most vets would recommend removing them when the pup is old enough to be spayed. 

You can actually remove the dew claws in older dogs, however this will likely prove more costly, painful and risky. Most vets would examine the need to remove the claws the older dog gets and make an assessment if it’s a medical necessity.


Obviously, removal of your Rottie’s dew claws is a decision that is solely up to you. The breed’s origins in the worker dog family mean that it has developed four dew claws, which is not the norm. 

Removal of the rear dew claws from a young puppy is actually a responsible thing to do seeing as it saves them from future infections and pain from snagging. 

However, front dew claw removal is typically a cosmetic decision reserved for show dogs or breeders that are obsessive about aesthetics. Removal of the front dew claws is likely painful, unnecessary and not functional. We do not condone this.


    1. Theoretically, you can get dew claws removed at any age. However, they tend to be removed during early days as a puppy as the experience is more seamless and painless. As the dog ages the procedure the means surgery, GA and time to rest up and heal. We recommend speaking to your vet to get their opinion.

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