While I have been staying up on this, just had a litter of pups, I realize there maybe some reasons to leave them. However I still decided to remove them from all the pups. Primarily, I think the research is a little flawed as most hunting dogs have them removed already. There is no way to know how much of an issue they pose if left attached. Secondly, if the dewclaw has to be removed at an older age, the procedure is certainly more invasive and the recovery takes time. My personal experience from working at a vet while in college for 4 years, is I don't want to put my dogs under anesthesia unless its absolutely necessary. Animals don't come with a medical history and unfortunately sometimes they don't wake up. While it only happened to a handful of animals while I was there the possibility exist. Lastly, a vast majority of the market still wants them removed, probably 99% of them. If the trend continues then I will evaluate again.
But why remove them? Almost every excuse I see to remove them is because the owner is lazy.
Who was the first to do it, and why did they do it?
Wolves, coyotes, and foxes all have theirs.
It's hard to compare it to our thumb because dewclaws aren't opposable, but that's the closest thing you can compare it to really right? No one wants their thumb removed because you might rip it off or the nail grows long right?
Not sure how removing dewclaws equates to lazy? From my experience, they can easily get caught on briars, brush, fences, and kennel fencing ect… When that happens it is painful and takes complete sedation to remove and will require several weeks of recovery most of the time. That can equal a loss of the remaining hunting season which most people spend all year anticipating.
I think this discussion comes more from breeding dogs that are not sound, at least in the Labrador Field Trial, than actual health. Dewclaws have been removed for 50+ years, now we are worried about arthritis and the stabilization of the knee. There are two really predominate lines in competition Labradors where torn acl's are fairly common, but its a taboo subject because everyone is searching for the next winner and nobody is willing to offend the owners. Also the torn acl's aren't traceable like hips, elbows, eyes, through a third party service.
If I hunted up north in the ice I would probably lean towards keeping them as they help when trying to climb.