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Why do dogs have claws?

Jun 18, 2023

Duncan Houston

Dogs have claws for a variety of reasons, mostly related to their lifestyle and activities:

1. **Mobility and Traction**: One of the primary uses of dog claws is for grip and traction when moving. The claws help dogs maintain a good grip on various surfaces, especially when running or walking on uneven or slippery ground.

2. **Digging**: Dogs use their claws to dig, a behavior that can be linked back to their wild ancestors. They may dig to find food, to create a den or cool place to lie down, or to bury objects like bones and toys for later use.

3. **Holding and Manipulating Objects**: Some dogs use their claws to hold and manipulate toys, food, or other objects.

4. **Self-Defense**: While not as common as in cats, dogs can also use their claws for self-defense if necessary.

Unlike cats, most dogs have non-retractable claws. This means that their claws are always out, rather than being able to be extended and retracted at will. This can lead to wear and tear on the claws, which is why regular nail trims are often necessary for domestic dogs to prevent overgrowth and other related issues.