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How to cut black nails

Posted on July 10, 2015 at 10:40 AM

I seem to see a lot of people talking about how they don't cut their dogs black/dark nails because they don't know how far to cut and are worried about quicking their dog, so I thought I'd take some photos along with a step-by-step guide to show you how I get dog's nails short.

Nails must be done little and often in order to reduce their length without hitting the quick, which will cause your dog to bleed.

A step by step guide to cutting your dog's nails

Step one:- Get your dog into a comfortable position, I sometimes sit the dog between my legs, and hold the paw firmly in a comfortable a position for you and the dog. Grip the paw securely so that if the dog was to flinch you would still have control, but don't squeeze as it might hurt. I gently apply pressure to the nail so it is fully extended and wait until he has relaxed so there is no struggling.


Step two:- Get the clippers ready over the nail and be ready to just clip a tiny piece, perhaps 2mm, off the end of the nail. If you are unsure where the quick is, or the quick is right at the end of the nail, you need to take of as little as you physically can so you know what you’ve got to work with. When you have decided you are going to make a cut, do it quickly and without hesitation. If you hesitate and do not do it quickly, this can squeeze the quick and make it painful for the dog.


Now Rupert doesn't have much nail in this photo, because they were done the day before yesterday already. If you havnt done your nails in a while, you might see a distinct hook at the end of the nail, this is fine to take off so it runs flat with the bottom of the nail.

Step three:- Keep making tiny, tiny cuts on the nail until the texture of the nail inside starts to change. You will see the outside ‘shell’ of the nail appear and you will see the texture inside change to a more ’meaty’ kind of texture. When you see the bottom of the nail change to a darker colour and/or a white circle appear in the nail you need to stop as this is the quick and going any further will make your dog bleed.

TIP! Once you have done all the nails, apply Preparation H (the hemmaroid cream) to the ends of the freshly cut nails and this will help to recede the quick faster. This makes a big difference!

Once we're done, give your dog a nice piece of cheese or some chicken to say, all done!

Question and Answer

Why is having long nails harmful to my dog's health?

Dogs use their nails for balance, turning corners and for accelerating when running. Many dogs will naturally wear their nails down, but often our dogs are run on soft surfaces or often do not get enough exercise and thus their nails get too long and need to be trimmed. Long nails can cause all sorts of problems, including joint pain and arthritis. Long nails are also more susceptible to being damaged, so it is important to keep them short (ideally not touching the ground).


How often should I clip my dogs nails?

Now, different dogs nails vary with how often they need to be done. Rupert’s back ones get worn down naturally so I never really need to take much off them, but I like them very short and we only really walk in fields so I do mine every 2/3 days when I am trying to get them shorter or once a week when they are already short. We keep them this short as it is my personal preference and we show, its up to you how short you keep yours.

My dog hates having his nails clipped, how do I do them?

There are two methods you could use to get your dog used to the nail clippers if s/he doesn’t like having their nails done; positive reinforcement or flooding. Positive reinforcement involves slowly getting the dog to like the nail clippers and making the whole thing positive, ie rewarding interactions the dog had with the clippers (sniffing, touching with their nose ect) then rewarding the dog letting you touch the nail with the clipper, then moving onto letting you do one nail ect ect. Flooding involves making the dog have his nails done by getting them into a position where he cannot throw his weight around and clipping the nails and not stopping until they are done. It is up to you which method you want to use, I think it depends on your preferences and your dog.

A lot of the time I believe some dogs wont have their nails done because they know that if they struggle they dont have to have them done, rather than an actual fear of the clippers. If your dog will let the vet do it, but not you, I believe you are probably approaching it with the wrong attitude and hesitating which is probably exacerbating things. I think positive reinforcement is the best method and this is the method I would recommend for long term benefits.

How do I make the quick recede quicker?

If the quick is right at the end, you need to try and do them little and often and the quick will recede. Some people might tell you that you need to cut the quick for it to recede, this is not true; I never cut any dog when I am cutting their nails. Once you’ve got them short, its much easier to keep them short. If you are trying to get them shorter and you are doing them once a week or less, you are probably losing ground.

What should I do if I accidently cut the quick?

If you do accidently cut your dog’'s quick, it shouldn't be a big deal as you are taking to little off at a time anyway it shouldn't really bleed at all, however to seal the quick you can rub a bar of soap on the end of dab it into a little plain flour. Otherwise you can buy a product called ‘quick stop’ which is also very good. If you have quicked your dog, you should be careful about walking on harsh surfaces as the scraping on the floor can open it up and cause bad bleeding.

Which type of clippers are best?


You need to make sure your clippers are sharp and size appropriate for your dogs nails. I prefer the plier type, especially for larger dogs, but you can use the guillotine type if you prefer.


Thank you for reading my article, I hope you found it helpful! If you did, don't forget to share it with your friends.

Categories: Health Advice, Training Tutorials