Vet confirms dogs have thumbs like humans – but they have a different name


TV vet Paul Manketlow explains what dog claws are, how they behave similarly to human thumbs, and why dogs need them to balance, walk, and jump

happy dog
Declaws function in a similar way to thumbs

You may have wondered if dogs have thumbs like humans and other primates like monkeys and great apes.

According to vets, dogs have toenails that function similarly to opposable thumbs — only they have a different name.

If you look at your dog’s feet, you may notice an extra fifth toenail on the end of his front paws.

This is called a “declaw,” and while they’re not exactly the same thing, they serve a very similar function.

Canine behaviorist Kassie Woods explains, “Vapor claws are the smaller fingers attached higher up on a dog’s forearm.

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Declaws help stabilize canines


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“Steam claws were designed to give dogs more stability when running or turning to ensure they don’t hurt their wrists.

“Steam claws even help your dog hold objects like chews or toys. They have a similar function as our thumbs.”

All dogs are born with front declaws, with some dogs also being born with back declaws and even more rarely in some breeds with double declaws.

TV vet Paul Manketlow breaks down each type of Declaw to further explain what they actually do.

Dogs aren’t all that different from humans


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claws in front

Paul explained, “Front dewclaws are typically fully formed toes attached by ligaments and bone, and while limited, these dewclaws serve some function.

“These toes aid in your dog’s balance and stability as he moves over rough terrain.

“Some research also suggests that dewclaws touch the ground when dogs are running at high speeds to prevent the rest of the limb from twisting and causing injury.

“Front claws are also there to help your dog’s grip while eating and chewing.”

Rear wolf claws

Paul said: “Unlike the front wolf claws, those on the hind legs are usually only attached by skin and serve no functional purpose at all.

“For most dogs that have them, they’re a genetic abnormality.”

It is rare for dogs to have hind or double claws


(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Double wolf claws

“Some larger or giant working breeds, like the Pyrenean Sheepdog, Icelandic Sheepdog, or Briard, are born with functional double dewclaws on their hind feet,” Paul said.

“Their purpose is to improve stability and grip strength when walking or climbing on rough or steep terrain.”

Kassie Woods and Paul Manketlow will perform at dog festival this year. Visit the site Book your tickets now.

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