The Briard's dew claws are one of those aspects of these dogs that breeders and judges at dog shows often are in disagreement over. By the Briard's standards, the dogs should have dew claws on its forelegs. But, these can be removed or they may be left where they are, it is up to the owner or the breeder to make that decision. In some cases, Briard's are born with two sets of dew claws on their hind legs. If you are a breeder, or a Briard owner, should you have them removed? And, should you be overly concerned about them at all?
The problem that is associated with dew claw is that there are two sides to every coin. First off, it is most commonly considered potentially harmful to the dog to have their dew claws removed if they are adult sized dogs. The process at this point is painful and can lead to serious problems such as infection. Yet, when most breeders have a litter of Briards (or other dogs with dew claws,) they will have them removed within the first week or two of their lives, sometimes as young as just three days old. In this case, the dogs are not at any risk in having them removed. The process is very fast taking only a few minutes and a bit of local anesthetic for the dog. Within an hour or so, the dog is back to playing and nursing, without concern. Nevertheless, should you have your Briard's dew claws removed?
There is a benefit in removing the dew claws. These sharp claws are actually found several inches above the paw on the leg. They jut out but are very similar to the claws located on their paws. The problem with them is that they can easily get caught on something sharp and rip open the dog's leg. For example, if they are running or jumping and get stuck in a fence, the dew claws can become engaged to the fence and as the dog pulls free, the dew claw rips open the flesh. This is the main reason that they are removed.
Why are they there? Most breeders do not believe that the Briard's dew claws mean anything and serve any purpose. But, some do. Some believe that has the dog is turning sharply or jumping over something, they will land in a position that their dew claws are on the ground. To turn quickly, the claw goes into the ground, giving them traction to make the turn. This is helpful to them in various situations, mainly in their history as sheep herding dogs.
It is up to the breeder or owner to decide if removing the dew claws is necessary and beneficial to the dog. If so, do it only when the dog is younger, unless the dog has been hurt before in which case your vet may recommend the removal.