Do Boston Terriers Have Dewclaws? What You Need To Know

When you look down at your Boston’s foot, count the number of toenails that you see on each foot. Do you see 4 or 5? If you see 4, then your Boston’s dewclaws have likely already been removed.

If you see 5, then likely one of these nails, the one on the upper inside of the foot, is the dewclaw.

Do Boston Terriers Have Dewclaws? What You Need To Know

What is the purpose of dewclaws and why are they sometimes removed? This article will explore all the questions you may have about Boston Terrier dewclaws!

Everything You Need To Know About Boston Terrier Dewclaws

Feel free to check out the different topics covered in this article and skip to the question you want answers to.

Do Boston Terriers Have Dewclaws? What You Need To Know

Do Boston Terriers Have Dewclaws?

Yes, Boston Terriers are born with dewclaws. Dewclaws are the toe and toenail that live on the upper, inside of the foot. Essentially dewclaws are your Boston’s thumbs.

In the Boston Terrier breed standard, the AKC reports that,

“the dewclaws may be removed.”

Boston Terrier breed standard

Dewclaw removal is not required, but it is an option.

That is why you may see some Boston Terriers with dewclaws and some without dewclaws. The Boston Terriers without dewclaws likely had them removed as puppies.

Are Boston Terriers prone to cancer? Read this article, 7 Boston Cancer Signs To Watch For.

What Dog Breeds Do Not Have Dewclaws?

All dog breeds are born with dewclaws. Some breeds have both front and rear dewclaws, while other breeds have only front dewclaws. 

If you see a dog that does not have dewclaws in the front, this means that the dewclaws were likely removed when they were a puppy.

What Dog Breeds Have Both Front & Rear Dewclaws?

Here is a list of some dog breeds that have both front and rear dewclaws.

Photo of a Briard.

What Is The Purpose Of A Boston Terrier Having A Dewclaw?

Boston Terrier dewclaws do not make contact with the ground, and therefore, they serve a minimal purpose. Bostons may use the dewclaws to help them grab onto objects. 

Other breeds may use the dewclaws to navigate snowy terrains or may use them to make quick turns when herding animals.

Essentially, they are there because they are the thumbs of your Boston Terrier. Dogs evolved to have these dewclaws because they served a specific function at one point in time.

Does your Boston Terrier have dry skin? Read this article, 5 Reasons Your Boston Terrier Has Dandruff & Dry Skin Plus What You Can Do About It!

Are The Dewclaws Bad To Have?

Are The Dewclaws Bad To Have?

Dewclaws are not necessarily bad. If you keep the nails trimmed short, dewclaws usually don’t cause any problems. 

The main risk of dewclaws is that they will get caught on something and rip. I do not see this injury commonly as a veterinarian. I do not recommend removing the dewclaws unless absolutely medically necessary.

Why Would You Remove A Boston Terriers Dewclaws?

Removal of dewclaws has begun to fall out of favor over the past 10 to 20 years. It is now considered a cosmetic procedure that is typically unnecessary unless there is an underlying medical reason to remove the dewclaws.

This painful procedure is usually done when the puppies are only a few days old. While vets will usually numb the area before performing the surgery, this procedure can still be painful, and many veterinarians consider it unnecessary.

The main reason that I would consider removing dewclaws from a Boston Terrier is that they become severely injured or ripped. Because this is not a very common injury, I don’t routinely recommend declaw removal in all Boston Terriers.

When Is The Removal Of A Boston Terriers Dewclaw Needed?

CircumstanceIs dewclaw removal needed?
Your Boston has very deeply attached dewclaws.No. Typically, if the dewclaws are firmly attached to the bone, I do not recommend removing. Essentially, this procedure is an aesthetic toe removal and not necessary.
Your Boston is born with front dewclaws.No. I do not usually recommend routine removal of front dewclaws unless it is medically necessary or if the dewclaws are extremely floppy and may get caught on things. Dewclaws removed as puppies are usually done for cosmetic reasons, and this procedure is not medically necessary.
Your Boston has floppy and dangly dewclaws that protrude out excessively.Maybe. Dewclaws that are extremely floppy may be more prone to getting caught on things and damaged. Some veterinarians may recommend the removal of floppy dewclaws at the same time your Boston is under anesthesia for other procedures like a spay or neuter.
Your Boston has damaged its dewclaw and ripped it.Probably. If your Boston has severely damaged the dewclaw, your veterinarian may recommend removal. This is not extremely common, but it does occasionally occur.
Your Boston has an ingrown dewclaw.No. When the dewclaw is not regularly trimmed, the nail may curl around on itself and dig into the pad. This can cause a painful ingrown and infected nail. The good news is that veterinarians can trim the nail and prescribe medications for the nail to heal. The entire dewclaw will likely not need to be removed.
Your Boston has a dewclaw that is extremely infected, diseased, or cancerous.Probably. If the dewclaw becomes diseased, your veterinarian may recommend removing it. Some dogs can get cancerous lesions in their toes, so your vet may recommend removing the dewclaw if it becomes too diseased.

Want to learn cool facts about Boston Terriers? Check out this article, 15 Interesting Facts About Boston Terriers.

Boston Terrier Dewclaws

What Is The Procedure Of Removing A Dewclaw?

The procedure for removing dewclaws looks a little different depending on the age of the Boston. See the video below.

For young Boston puppies that are only a few days old, vets usually perform this procedure without general anesthesia. They will numb the area and trim off the dewclaws and stitch the skin back together.

For older puppies and adult Bostons that need dewclaw removal, this procedure is done under anesthesia. 

The veterinarian will place your dog under general anesthesia then make a surgical incision around the dewclaw to remove it. If the dewclaw is deeply attached, the vet may also need to amputate through the joint of the dewclaw. If it is only attached by skin, the vet will be able to remove it with a simple skin incision.

After the dewclaw is removed, your vet will stitch up the skin and place a bandage so your dog won’t be able to lick at the incision.

Video Of The Dewclaw Removal Procedure

Note: this video is graphic.

Is Removing A Dewclaw Painful?

Yes, removing a dewclaw is a painful procedure. In puppies that are only a few days old, veterinarians will typically use lidocaine and nerve blocks to numb the area. 

If the procedure needs to be done on any other age of Boston, veterinarians will use general anesthesia and post-op pain medication to control the pain.

What Is The Typical Price Range Of Removing A Boston Terriers Dewclaw?

The price range for the procedure depends on the age of the Boston Terrier. 

AgePrice Range Per Boston
Puppies (only a few days old)$20.00 – $70.00
Older Puppies & Adult Dogs$200.00 – $700.00

If the veterinarian is removing dewclaws on Bostons that are only a few days old, they will charge much less because they are not doing the procedure under anesthesia. 

In older puppies and adult dogs, the procedure becomes more expensive as general anesthesia is necessary.

For puppies that are only a few days old, the average cost of dewclaw removal is between $20-70 per puppy. 

For older puppies and adult dogs, the cost of dewclaw removal can range from $200-700 depending on how many dewclaws are being removed, if the removal is done at the same time as another anesthetic procedure, and how deeply attached the dewclaws are.

Boston Terrier Dewclaws

How Should I Manage My Boston’s Dewclaws?

If your Boston has dewclaws, be sure to keep the nails trimmed short. The dewclaw nails may grow faster than other nails because they don’t contact the ground. Because of this, the dewclaw nail doesn’t wear down as much as the other nails.

If you ever notice the nail growing into the pad, any abnormal swelling of the dewclaw, or dewclaw injury, you should visit your veterinarian for treatment.


Dewclaws on Boston Terriers do not typically serve any function. That being said, the dewclaws do not usually need to be removed unless medically necessary because dewclaw removal is considered a painful procedure.

The main medical reasons for dewclaw removal is if your Boston badly damages the dewclaw or if it becomes extremely diseased.


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Addie Reinhard, DVM

Addie Reinhard, DVM- Dr. Addie Reinhard is an experienced small animal veterinarian. She is a Boston Terrier lover and always enjoys caring for her Boston patients at the veterinary clinic. She is passionate about providing helpful educational resources to pet parents regarding animal diseases and preventative care. She lives in Lexington, KY with her husband, greyhound, and four cats.

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