Bull Terrier Dewclaws


Time to read 4 min

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Do you know that Bull Terriers have an "extra" toenail called a dewclaw?

Well, dewclaws are a feature that's common in most dog breeds, including Bull Terriers.

In this guide, we're going to explain everything you need to know about dewclaws in Bull Terriers and why they have them.

What are dewclaws? 

The standard number of claws on a Bull Terrier is five on the front paws and four on the rear paws. That extra fifth one you see just a little bit up from your Bull Terrier’s front paws is called the dewclaw. Dewclaws are built like any other toe, with bone, muscle, blood supply, and nerves.

The purpose of dewclaws is kind of like we have thumbs. They certainly look similar when you take their paw in your hand. Just like all dogs, your Bull Terrier’s dewclaws will grow up a little bit higher than the rest of their paw. They are positioned on the inside of the leg, and in Bull Terriers this usually means a few centimeters up from the rest of the paw.

In Bull Terriers, dewclaws don’t touch the ground when they are standing up but will make contact when they run about.

What are Bull Terrier dewclaws for?

A dewclaw that is attached by bone to your Bull Terrier’s front foot has a definite purpose.

When Bull Terriers run, their front feet often bend to the point where their dewclaws come in contact with the ground. At high speeds or on slippery surfaces, these dewclaws provide extra traction and offer stability to move and run faster. 

Some Bull Terriers also use their dewclaws to help them climb up steep surfaces. Bull Terriers can also use their dewclaws like we do our own thumbs to grip onto a toy or hold objects to better chew on them.

How to maintain your Bull Terrier's dewclaws?

The way you maintain your Bull Terrier’s dewclaws is just the same as you do with the rest of their claws. With more active Bull Terriers, you probably don’t need to do much because by running around and playing, they will keep them short with no need for trimming.

But for most Bull Terriers, regular trims are needed to keep their nails at a healthy length. Keep a close eye on the dewclaw. Since they are not in contact with the ground as frequently as the other nails, they may require more frequent trims.

The best way to prevent dewclaws from snagging on things is to keep them short. For Bull Terriers who don’t seem to wear down the nail themselves, dewclaw trimming is the best way to keep them out of trouble.

Is Bull Terrier dewclaw removal necessary?

Traditionally, many breeders have opted to have their puppies' declaws removed a few days after birth. This was intended to prevent future injuries to the dewclaws.

However, dewclaw injuries are not extremely common in Bull Terriers. There's no specific medical need for Bull Terriers to have their dewclaws removed. In fact, dewclaws serve a purpose and they help stabilize the carpal (wrist) joint when a Bull Terrier puts pressure on the front paws. Dewclaws can also provide extra traction on some surfaces.

Common dewclaw injuries in Bull Terriers

Bull Terriers are more likely to injure a dewclaw than another toe. That's because dewclaws often become overgrown and are prone to breaking as your Bull Terrier pulls away.

Broken dewclaws

Broken Dewclaws bleed if the tissue in the center of the nail that includes a blood vessel is exposed. This can also happen if you trim too far down the nail. 


Like the other toes on your Bull Terrier's paw, dewclaws may also develop ingrown nails and infections. Signs of dewclaw infection include a change in color, swelling, and odor. Treatment for an infected dewclaw requires antibiotics, and bandaging to keep your Bull Terrier from licking it.

What should I do if my Bull Terrier has injured their dewclaw?

If your Bull Terrier has injured their dewclaw, it’s usually best if your vet takes a look. They’ll be able to advise whether any further action is needed, especially if the toe seems dislocated. Cracked or broken nails usually need to come off entirely to end the discomfort and heal properly. Your Bull Terrier might need to wear a bandage or a cone for a few days to keep the base of the nail clean and protected.

Do dewclaws grow back after an injury?

Broken dewclaw nails usually grow back within a few months. They might take a bit but they shouldn’t be painful or bothersome to your Bull Terrier. If your Bull Terrier continues to lick or chew on their dewclaw, or if it still seems swollen a few weeks after the injury, you should discuss the situation with your vet.

Do Bull Terriers have sensitive paws?

Bull Terriers have pads on the bottom of their feet that can easily get irritated in hot weather or when they walk on rough surfaces. This can cause swelling, redness, and even pain. If your Bull Terrier is having any signs of discomfort, it is important to take a look at their paws and see if there is any inflammation or irritation. 

If so, you may need to take steps to help your Bull Terrier feel more comfortable. Dog boots are not just for cuteness, they provide the ultimate protection from the harsh environment. These Breathable Dog Shoes will provide the extra protection Bull Terriers need to keep their sensitive pads. They will prevent injury and protect their paws. If you're looking for the perfect shoes for long walks in the snow, then these Adjustable Waterproof Dog Shoes are just what you need! 

During winter, dog shoes help your Bull Terrier retain body heat. Your Bull Terrier may not like wearing boots in the beginning. However, you can train your Bull Terrier to love wearing their booties! Just take a gradual approach and give lots of praise and treats for wearing them.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, we have given you all you needed to know about dewclaws in Bull Terriers and why they have them. It's important to treat Bull Terrier dewclaws the same as your pet's other nails. With proper maintenance though, dewclaws in Bull Terriers aren't usually a problem.