Dog Breed Info Center(R) DBIC

Foot Grooming and Nail Trimming

A Show Dog's Life

An illustration on how to properly cut the nails of a dogs. It is a drawling and there is an arrow pointing to the quick inside of a dog's claw.

This diagram shows a dog’s nail. For a dog with white nails, trimming is easier as you can see the quick (the quick is a vein of blood). (Good lighting helps too.) For a dog with black nails, trimming is harder.

You do not want to clip the quick, or the dog will be scared to let you try again. So I recommend with black nails to trim on the longer side to be safe...until you get to know where the quick is. If you cannot trim your dog’s nails, take your dog to the vet or a groomer. Many owners find this difficult.

If you trim the nails often the quick will retract back over time. If you do not trim the nails often the quick grows longer.

This dog broke her nail jumping out of a car. The quick was exposed which was very painful until it healed.

Close up - Unkempt long nails of a dogs paw that is standing on a carpet. The nails are curling forward towards the dog's paw.

Pictured is an example of a dog's nails that have grown too long. This dog runs a high risk of getting its nails caught on something possibly ripping it off. Broken nails cause great pain to a dog, just as ripping off your own fingernail past the skin would. Its paws will also be sore from all of the constant pressure on the nails. Imagine yourself walking on your fingernails all day long. When a dog walks the nails should be short enough that their weight is not resting on its nails.

Close up - A dog is laying on a carpet and its front paws are out. Its nails are too long and they are curling around towards the dog's paws.

Example of a dog's nails that have grown too long

A dog is standing on a carpet with black nails that are curling.

Example of a dog's nails that have grown too long

Close up - The front paws of a dog with white nails where you can see the pink inside of them where the quick is. There is a tennis ball in between the dog's feet.

This dog has white nails, which shows the pink quick making it easier to properly cut them. This fella is in need of a trim. If the owner lets the nails grow long too many times the quick will also grow longer. Cutting the nails often will make the quick retract back.

Close up - A dogs front paws are on a tennis ball. The dogs nails are clear where you can see the pink in them.

Dog with long white nails in need of a trim.

These are some tools owners use for nails (see pictures below). It is wise to have quick stop on hand to stop the bleeding if you accidentally hit a quick. If you do not have any and blood will not stop, apply pressure and sometimes ice or flour will work.

If you start cutting your puppy’s nails from day one then nail cutting will be accepted as routine as an adult. Most dogs do not like the feel of getting their nails trimmed. So remember that PROPER introduction to this activity is extremely important for continued success.

A dog’s nails should not touch the ground, so if you hear clicking (clickety click) on your hard floors, it is time to trim.

Some dogs that walk a lot on hard surfaces will maintain their own nails at a proper length.

Top down view of tools on a carpet to trim the nails of a dog.
Top down view of a container to stop bleeding of a dog's nails. Under the container is a tool to cut the nails.
A little black with tan puppy is laying belly up on a towel in a persons lap and it is getting its nails trimmed.

Nails need to be trimmed once per month.

Trimming Slipper Feet

A black with tan puppy is laying upside down in a persons lap and it is getting the hair on its paw trimmed with electric trimmers.

Longhaired breeds grow hair between the pads of their feet. This is uncomfortable and needs to be removed. The fastest way is with electric clippers, but blunt scissors work equally as well. Remember to go slow; you never want to slip. If you are uncomfortable doing this, then you should be taking your dog to a groomer for things that you cannot do.

Close up - The paw of a puppy with long hair all around the pads.

If you do not trim the slipper feet of longhaired breeds, then the dog when running on hardwood, tile, or linoleum floors can slip; it is like wearing slippery slippers. This hair on the bottom of the feet should be removed so the dog can properly grip the floor with his/her pads. Toenails should not be heard clicking on the floor either.

Close up - A person is trimming the hair of a dog's paw.
Close up - The underside of a puppys paw that is getting the hair trimmed.
Close up - The underside of a dog's paws with long hair on it and it is getting the left paw hair cut off.
Close up - The underside of the pads of a dogs feet. On the left you can see the pads because the hair has been cut off and on the right the paw is covered with long hair.

Remember to trim the excess hair from between the pads of a longhaired dog.

Close up - The underside of a small dog's paws. The dog is laying in a person's lap. The dog has a lot of long hair all over its feet.

Very bad case of slipper feet

Close up - The freshly cut hair on a dogs feet showing the black pads.

After they have been groomed