Do Wolves Have Claws?

Yes, wolves do have claws, but they don’t use them when they are hunting. Instead, they use their claws to gather more speed as they’re running and to have more strength.

A wolf has four toes and an extra toe that’s called the dewclaw. These dew claws grow above their paws and are the product of thousands of years of mating between the different wolf and dog breeds.

do wolves have claws

However, wolves don’t use claws as predatory cats do. Their claws are made of keratin, which means they’ll continuously grow, and they’re also not retractable. This means that wolves can’t use their claws for ambushing their prey or for climbing onto trees or higher obstacles.

Do Wolves Use Their Claws?

The main purpose of their claws is for digging and running. They will normally grow their claws long and relatively strong structurally, which gives them a powerful tool that will enable them to dig deep holes. This, in turn, allows them to get to foods that are otherwise hidden from the surface.

The toes of wolves will not retract, meaning that wolves can’t use them to get more grip when they’re climbing. Cats and wild cats have retractable claws, which will retract and come out as the animal is climbing onto trees or higher grounds.

Instead, wolves utilize their toes and claws in different ways. Because these claws are rigid, they’re stronger on the ground and give wolves more running speed and strength.

Wolves prefer hunting in open grounds where they can run down their prey and usually strike a blow with its paws and hit the hamstring of the victim. Cats or birds that have retractable claws will use their claws to kill the target; a wolf, on the other hand, will use its paws and its teeth to bite at the legs of the victim.

Another use of the claws is for digging. This technique can be useful for wolves to get to some animals of prey that hide underneath the ground. It can also help them get to places where they wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise.

Read Also: Do Wolves Have Whiskers?

Are Wolf Claws Sharp?

A wolf’s claw is sharp, which is helpful for them to move on the ground swiftly and run faster. Their claws will keep regrowing if they’re clipped, and they are made of keratin, which makes them hard to break.

A wolf’s claw is more like a human toenail that hasn’t been clipped in a while. It has the ability to regrow once it’s clipped. The claws have to be strong enough to help the wolf exert more power as they try to chase their food, and as they dig deep into the ground.

Even though they are sharp, wolves don’t use them for climbing onto trees. The claws have a special type of webbing between them, which comes in handy for wolves when they are running across an open field and they’re trying to catch an animal.

This webbing is not very clearly visible at first sight, although it’s hidden beneath the fur that can be found on a wolf’s paw. Wolves also have relatively big toes for their size, which enables them to cover more ground and to run faster.

Can Wolves Swim?

Wolves are very comfortable with swimming and will do so if they have to catch their target or cool down in the summer.

Their big paws and the webbing between the claws come in useful when they’re swimming. Even though they’re not the best swimmers in the world, they’re perfectly capable of jumping into the water and swimming, although their swimming is not steady – which can be improved through practice.

Although wolves will try to avoid open stretches of water and will only jump into the water if they can get out of it quickly. This means that they’ll only swim in smaller streams and lakes. Sometimes, they’ll use the water as a cool bath that will help them cool down during the summer when it gets hot.

Why Do Wolves Have Dew Claws?

Dewclaws are a leftover of thousands of years of evolution and are especially common with specific wolf species that have bred with dogs and domestic dogs throughout the evolution.

These dewclaws can be found above their paws and usually on the outer portion of their front legs. They don’t use these claws to climb as cats do – but they will use dewclaws to pin down their prey once they manage to catch it.

More often than not though, these dewclaws don’t have as big a purpose as they do with felines for wolves. It plays a more decorational role although they are occasionally useful for wolves when they are struggling to contain their prey.

Can You Trim Claws of Captive Wolves?

Some people decide to trim down claws of wolves that they have domesticated, but it’s not the most effective tactic for making these claws smaller because they’ll grow back to their normal size, even after they’ve been clipped.

The claws of wolves are made of keratin, which is the same material that makes up the majority of our nails. So a wolf’s claw will act the same way as our nails do when they’re clipped – they’ll grow back.

That’s why many people who domesticate wolves opt not to trim the claws of their domesticated wolves. Although they’ll only clip them if the claws get overgrown, as they don’t use them that often in captivity for running.

Final Thoughts

Wolves do have claws: they have four toes and two dewclaws, which are located on their front legs.

These dewclaws have been left after thousands of years of evolution and breeding with dogs. Some wolves don’t have these dewclaws. Their claws on the toes are very similar to our nails in structure, as they’re made of keratin and will grow back once they’re trimmed.

The wolf claws are strong and are mainly used when the wolves are running and digging, and are not used for ambushing or killing their prey.