Dogster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How Many Toes Do Dogs Have? Can They Have Extra Toes?

Written by: Ed Malaker

Last Updated on April 16, 2024 by Dogster Team

How Many Toes Do Dogs Have? Can They Have Extra Toes?

The number of toes that your dog has is likely not something that you think about frequently. That said, most people are surprised to learn that most dogs have 18 toes, and some breeds can have even more. Keep reading as we discuss where you can find all these toes and why some breeds might have a different number of toes. We also discuss how often you should trim your pet’s nails.

Dogster_Website dividers_v1_Jan 18 2024-01-TEST

How Many Toes Does My Dog Have?

Most people will look at their dog and count four toes on each foot. However, most dogs will have a fifth toe, called the dewclaw, on each front leg, making for a total of 18 toes.

close up of white dog paws
Image by: Pixabay

What Is a Dewclaw?

A dewclaw is a toe that sits high on the inside of the front legs of many dog breeds. This toe almost resembles a thumb and doesn’t touch the ground as your pet walks. While most breeds will have these toes on the front legs, some might have them on the rear legs.

What Does a Dog Use Dewclaws For?

Some people notice their dogs using their dewclaws to grip their bones and toys better. Dogs can also use them to scratch their eyes, pull themselves out of water, and even steady themselves. Breeders also believe that these claws might help them make quick turns and dig into the ground easier.

How Did Dogs Get Dewclaws?

Since the grey wolf, an ancestor of modern dogs, does not have a dewclaw, many people wonder how dogs ended up with them. While no one can be certain, many believe that it results from ancient breeding practices because it provides dogs with many advantages.

close up image of dog paw
Image by: Pixabay

Is There a Downside to Dewclaws?

Unfortunately, dewclaws that stick out too far might get caught as the dog runs, so the vet will usually remove these to avoid problems later in life. Breeders will also remove a dog’s dewclaws shortly after birth if they are not part of the breed standard that they are producing.

What Breeds Have Rear Dewclaws?

Several large breeds that farmers use to tend livestock in mountainous regions have developed dewclaws on the back legs, which might help them maintain more solid footing. Breeds with rear dewclaws include the Anatolian Shepherd Dog, Beauceron, Briard, Estrela Mountain Dog, Icelandic Sheepdog, Portuguese Sheepdog, and Saint Bernard. Many of these dogs have more than one dewclaw on each rear leg.

Dogster_Website dividers_v1_Jan 18 2024-03

Which Dog Breed Has the Most Toes?

The breed with the most toes is currently the Norwegian Lundehund, which has two dewclaws on each leg for a grand total of 24 toes.

Image by: Irine and Andrew, Shutterstock

Do I Need to Trim My Dog’s Nails?

Yes, all of your dog’s nails will need trimming. The dewclaw nails will need more frequent trimming because they don’t touch the ground and won’t wear down naturally. Most experts recommend trimming your dog’s nails every 3–4 weeks or when you hear their nails start clicking on the floor as the dog walks. However, if the dog is active and spends a great deal of time running outdoors, you won’t need to trim them as frequently. Choose a pair of dog nail clippers with a guard that prevents you from cutting the nail too short.

Dogster_Website dividers_v1_Jan 18 2024-03


Most dogs have 18 toes, with four on each foot and one extra dewclaw on each front leg. However, some dogs won’t have any dewclaws, and some may have one or more on their rear legs. The Norwegian Lundehund has 24 toes in total due to having two dewclaws on each leg. A vet or breeder may remove a dog’s dewclaws shortly after birth if they aren’t part of the breed standard or to help prevent injury if they stick out too far. Maintain your pet’s feet by trimming their nails every 3–4 weeks with a pair of dog nail clippers to reduce noise as they walk and help keep them comfortable.

Featured Image Credit: Jumpstory

Get Dogster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Dogster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.