Trimming Black Dog Nails the Safe Way. Easy Once You Know the Trick.

Trimming Black Dog NailsHow do I clip my dog’s nails when they’re black? Where is the quick on black dog nails? Many dog owners fear trimming black dog nails because they will cut the quick and hurt their dog. But once you know how to clip black dog nails, it is just as easy as clipping lighter colored nails. The most important thing is to cut up to the pulp and no further.

Here is all the information (including photos) to give you confidence about clipping your dog’s black nails.

✅    In a hurry to get a Dremel Pet Nail Grooming Tool?  Click Here.


If you want to jump ahead (especially to the black nail pictures), please scroll down.

What Happens if my Dog’s Nails Grow Too Long?

Genius Dog 300 x 250 - AnimatedA major aspect of grooming your dogs is keeping their nails at an appropriate length.

There are a number of things that can go wrong if you let your dog’s nails grow too long.

First, your dog won’t be able to walk or run properly.

Imagine trying to walk around with your toes curled under your feet.

When the dogs can’t walk properly, it puts a lot of unnecessary strain on their muscles and their spine. If the nails grow too long, they can become ingrown, and those ingrown nails are prone to infection and cause your dog a lot of pain.

When Should I be Trimming Black Dog Nails?

Before trimming black dog nails, use a calming dog supplement to make your dog more comfortable.   Click Here to see more details.

Dogs’ nails should be trimmed whenever they get too long, no matter how old they are.

This includes puppies. But for most dog parents they only start thinking about nail clipping after the nails are already long.

To tell if your dog’s nails are too long, you can see if you hear their claws click against a hard floor or path when they walk.

If their claws are clicking against tile, timber or concrete floors, they need to be trimmed.

You can also tell by holding up their paw and looking to see if the nail comes down over the pad of the paw.

High Quality Pet Nail Clippers – Epica Professional Nail Clipper

CLICK the IMAGE to see Today’s Price.

These Epica Pet Nail Clippers are ideal for small and medium dogs such as Spaniels, Terriers, Dachshunds, Poodles, Bulldogs, Collies and Labrador Retrievers.

These dog nail clippers are very popular. At the time of writing these clippers rated an average of 4.8 out of 5 stars from more than 3,700 reviews on Amazon (that’s a very high rating!)

These clippers let you see precisely where you’re cutting. No guesswork. You get sharp stainless steel blades that cut the nail cleanly so there are no ragged bits that need filing. When you make the cut on the nail, you only need to use a gentle squeeze on the clippers to do it.

These nail clippers do not merely squeeze the nail off at the end like some poor quality clippers. The Epica clippers have a very sharp cutting blade to slice the end of the nail off easily. These blades are made from high-grade stainless steel and they will not warp, bend, rust or scratch.

You get a ***safety stop feature*** on these dog nail clippers. This stops you from cutting too far along your dog’s nail. This is a great feature if you’re not used to clipping dog nails yet.

The rubber grip handles let you keep a firm hold of the clippers while clipping your dog’s nails.

They include a safety lock to keep the blades together when not being used. This keeps your kids safe if they come near them and it also protects the blades from damage if you store the clippers in a drawer with other items.  The safety lock will not jiggle open if you shake the clippers around, like what happens on lower quality dog nail clippers.

✅    For the current price on this High-Quality Dog Nail Clipper, Click Here.


Clippers or a File? Which is best for trimming black dog nails?

You can choose to use nail clippers or nail files to shorten your dog’s nails, depending on which you feel more comfortable using.

The clippers are quicker, while you’re less likely to have an accidental cut with a file.

This Dremel Pet Grooming Set is very popular with dog parents. Click the Image to see Today’s Price.

A file will be very slow and your dog may not have the patience to tolerate it.

If you want to file their nails, it’s best to use a Dremel dog nail grooming tool which is an abrasive rotating tool.

Don’t hold the Dremel rotating tool on your dog’s nails for too long at any one time because it can become hot.

Use the Dremel for a few seconds and then stop and start again on another part of the nail.

The more you practice with the Dremel, the more you and your dog will become used to it. At first you may need to run it next to your dog without using it and give your dog treats to show that it is okay and this will help your dog get accustomed to it gradually.

When Should I Start Clipping my Dog’s Nails?

It’s very important that you start trimming your dog’s nails when they’re a young puppy. If you get them comfortable with having their nails trimmed early on, it will make everything much easier moving forward.

To get your puppy comfortable with having its nails trimmed, you should first get them comfortable with the sight and sound of the clipper. Give them some peanut butter or a treat, and clip the clippers near their paws without actually trimming their nails.

After some time doing this, they’ll be happy to see the clipper. Make sure you take things slow, because you don’t want to make your puppy afraid of the clippers. When clipping your dog’s nails, it’s very important that you don’t clip the quick.

Where is the Quick on Black Dog Nails?

The quick is the part of the nail that is colored differently and closer to the dog’s leg. On some nails, the quick will appear pink and the actual nail will appear white, while on others, it may appear black on black. This is when it becomes more difficult. When you’re trimming black dog nails you cannot see the quick from outside the nail.

If you clip the quick, it will not only cause tremendous pain to the dog, but the cut will bleed heavily. Avoid clipping the quick by making multiple small cuts and making your way up slowly before you go too far.

The trick to trimming black dog nails is to find the pulp.  The best way to decide on where to stop cutting the black nail is when you reach the pulp. As you cut, you’ll see a white color on the cut surface. This means you haven’t reached the pulp yet. The pulp is located just before the quick. It is dark in color but able to be identified by a circular appearance.

PICTURES on Trimming Black Dog Nails and Finding the Pulp (to avoid the quick on black dog nails)

1.  In this first photo you can see the nail clipped. It shows mostly a white color on the end.

Trimming black dog nails to avoid the quick 1


2.  After another clip…this photo starts to show some of the darker color in the center.

Trimming black dog nails to avoid the quick 2


3.  After yet another clip…now you can see the black pulp clearly in the center of the nail. This is when to stop. The pulp is just before the quick. Stop once you see the black pulp like this (below), otherwise the nail will bleed if you do another clip.

Trimming black dog nails to avoid the quick 3


Why is it Important to Cut Up to the Pulp on Black Nails?

As mentioned, the pulp is just before the quick. If you only take a minimal amount off the nail the quick will continue to grow longer. After trimming black dog nails (or lighter color nails) you actually want the quick to recede. Otherwise it will become difficult to cut the dog’s nails short enough the next time.

By cutting a dog’s black nails up to the pulp, this encourages the quick to recede. This is what you want. It helps your dog to stay in good health and helps avoid painful problems from long or overgrown nails in the future.

Buy button

My Dog is Anxious About Getting His Nails Clipped – What Should I Do?

If this is the first time you’re trimming black dog nails, it can be difficult for both you and your dog. If your dog is anxious about it, you’ll know.

He might try to hide under the bed, run to another room and cower, tremble, drool, and his tail will be tucked under. Other indications are a change in behavior, excessive barking or urinating and defecating in the house. No one wants to see anxiety in their dog. It upsets all of us.

But you still need to clip your dog’s nails. So, what do you do?

One of the best things to try is a natural supplement to calm your dog. Some dogs suffer from extreme anxiety and they are prescribed meds by the veterinarian. This is usually for ongoing anxiety, not for one-off situations like nail cutting.

These Zesty Paws Calming Bites contain an all-natural formula for anxiety. Dog owners use this supplement for their dogs in lots of different anxiety-inducing situations.

For example, they are good for thunderstorms, fireworks, car trips, separation anxiety or visiting crowded places. You can also give this supplement to your dog before nail clipping.

Here are some tips for using Calming Bites before trimming black dog nails:

  • they may work better for your dog if taken on an empty stomach, rather than giving with food
  • most dogs seem to get good results straight away but one dog owner mentioned in a review that it took her dog 3 weeks for the supplements to take effect after giving them daily and then they worked really well (I’m guessing this may only be relevant if your dog suffers from daily anxiety)
  • make sure you dose according to the weight directions on the container
  • check with your veterinarian before giving your dog a new supplement (I noted that one person mentioned in a review that her vet said he would recommend all the ingredients in Calming Bites to help her dog’s anxiety which is good, but you’ll need to check for your own dog)

The good news is that you can use these Calming Bites for other situations when you’re dog is anxious or uncomfortable.

I’ve never known a dog to be happy about thunderstorms so if you want to make nail cutting easier as well as calming your dog during storms, get the Calming Bites and try them.

This is especially important if you’re dog is not yet used to nail trimming. At the beginning, they really do make a difference.

Take a look at more details on Calming Bites, Click Here.

What if I can’t Locate the Pulp on Black Nails?

Trimming black dog nails is daunting the first few times. If you’ve looked at the photos and educated yourself, but you’re still worried about doing it yourself, it’s time for a dog professional. You can get a dog groomer to show you how it is done on your dog.

They can show you how to clip the nail up to the pulp and where to stop. There is nothing better for learning, than seeing it first-hand. They might even recommend the clippers they use and the brand of styptic powder (just in case). Styptic powder is used to stop bleeding if you accidentally clip the quick. It is a good idea to have a good quality Styptic powder (like this one) on hand before you begin clipping your dog’s nails. If you do make the nail bleed you want to be able to stop it quick.

Trimming black dog nails is the hardest grooming task for any dog owner to conquer. We all worry about hurting our dog. The best place to start is by making your dog happy around the clippers and the Dremel. Give your dog treats and praise. Aim for a relaxed experience and you and your dog will both enjoy it (to see this in action, see the video below).

Did you know it can be harmful for your dog to eat too fast? See all the info you need on slow feeder bowls, click here.

✅    Want to know the best tips for getting rid of matted dog hair? Read them here.

Trimming Black Dog Nails


27 thoughts on “Trimming Black Dog Nails the Safe Way. Easy Once You Know the Trick.

  1. Tamara

    Thanks for the great article. My rescue, an older chocolate lab we call Ellie, has serious, and somewhat vicious, issues with having her nails clipped, (somebody was obviously scared of her posturing at some point and she’s learned to use that to her advantage in a number of cases, which I’ve had to bully her away from, She actually did draw blood from my mom while being dogsat at her home, once, early on) and they were overlong to begin with. Since the groomer is a 15-minute drive and I don’t have a vehicle, not to mention the $5 plus tax to get them done, which isn’t a large amount, I know, especially considering her allergy medication and food, but on a limited budget, and the frequent visits she would need to get it under control, it adds up, doing them myself was pretty much a must, but, as you pointed out, it is a bit of a nerve-wracking process, especially when I cut too short, the first attempt, and further soured her on it. The dremmel (a different cheaper brand, in my case) made things a lot easier, and this article made me a lot more confident about where to stop. Only got one foot done, so far (and that with a lot of snarling, snapping, and a couple attempts to choke herself on the leash I had her tied up with,) but after a break to cool off some, I won’t feel nearly so nervous about tackling the other three.

    1. Didi Post author

      Thanks for stopping by Tamara. I’m glad this info was helpful. Good luck with the rest of Ellie’s nail trimming!

  2. Jami


    Thanks so much! I’ve read many things about dark nails, clipping tips, etc. Shockingly, not one of them mentioned always trimming to the pulp & why to do so. I’m so glad you wrote this & that I came across it today.


    1. DidiW Post author

      Thank you for your comment Jami. I’m pleased you stopped by. I hope you find lots more interesting information at DevotedDogWorld in the future.

  3. Anne

    Great article, and thanks for the photos! My dog’s nails are way too long because I’ve been afraid of hurting him. So, I got out the dremel and was amazed at how much nail was actually there! However, I still didn’t make it to the pulp. I think I got to the first picture, where I started seeing some lighter part, and my dog seemed uncomfortable so I quit.

    I know that the dremel can become hot, so I also didn’t run it for too long, thinking that might have been part of the problem.

    I just want to be certain! Do all black toenails have the same black “dot” when you get to the pulp? I’m going to try again.

    1. Didi Post author

      Hey Anne, it sounds like you’re doing a great job on his nails. If you got that far on a first attempt with the nails being really long, you’re doing well to stop there and let your dog have a break before going on with it another day.

      I wouldn’t like to say 100% certain that all dog nails will be exactly as the pictures show they should be, because I’m not a vet. Like humans, dogs can have their unusual characteristics and there may be dogs that are in the one-of-a-kind category whose nails are different – I don’t know for sure. You can either ask your vet for more details about your specific dog or keep going slowly in another attempt. If you go slowly and you make the nail bleed it will be less than if you took a big chunk of nail off and made it bleed, so being cautious is good.

      I certainly wouldn’t want you to make the nail bleed at all, but you must also remember that if a dog’s nails are left to get too long, this can cause more serious (and painful) problems affecting their knees and hips, so it’s definitely worth trimming nails to stop your dog suffering from worse pain later on.

  4. Theresa

    I have to muzzle our rescue lab to do her nails. However, if I feel assured she can’t bite me I’m more confident.

    1. Didi Post author

      Hi Theresa. I know how difficult it is with a dog that doesn’t like a nail trimming – you’ve definitely got a big challenge with your lab by the sound of it! If the muzzle helps, it’s worth using so you can get the job done. What about using a natural calming product too.
      Have you tried a product like Zesty Paws Calming Bites? Here is the link if you want to take a look at some of the reviews from people who have used it for their dog: It is an all-natural product to help calm your dog down (but it’s not a sedative). Maybe it will help and then after time you’ll get to the stage where you won’t need to use the muzzle. Good luck.

  5. Bre

    Thank you so much! I have a dog that could care less how far I trim but I still worry and then I have a Shepard who is terrified of me getting near her but I found a good treat this time and she allowed me not only to cut but to review the cut and trim more on the same nail. I used to have to hold her down with my legs and I think because I was always terrified of cutting them (which has happened) and now with your images I felt much more confident and she was acting silly and coming and putting her paw on me to allow me to cut. Thanks for the confidence!!!

    1. Didi Post author

      That is so wonderful to hear Bre. I’m pleased I could help. With two dogs, just make sure your dog nail clippers are always in good condition. If you need to clip their nails quite frequently, you may want to replace your nail clippers more often to ensure they are sharp enough. I know how difficult it can be and you want to be sure you always make a good clean cut every time. Keep up the good work! It sounds like you’re doing great.

  6. Sandy

    My name is sandy and I have very small yirkies. Some of males are curled back to the pads.
    What is the best way to trim those nails. Any information will be appreciated. THANK YOU

  7. Guest

    Very useful post, helped me to realize I could clip farther back than I previously thought. Despite the fact that my dog is shy from previously living with an abusive owner, she is very calm for nail trimmings.

  8. Sarah Valdovinos Klatt

    How often do you recommend trimming the nails? Thanks so much for writing this article and including the helpful pictures. You’ve changed my life and that of my dogs!

  9. Loraine

    I have 2 rescues that I adopted when they were both about a year old They are currently a 12 y.o. 70# Bulldog mix & a 3 y.o. 90# Rottweiler mix (blackist of black nails). Both have very long quicks & their nails have destroyed my wood floors and it has caused back and hip damage. I have tried to cut the nails myself, but they are both fearful of it, and it seems to hurt them. I have to take them to a groomer (who also shows and trains working dogs), but the groomer is telling me to have the vet cut their quicks way back while they’re under anesthesia (possibly when having teeth cleaned). She said it would cause less stress and pain for the dog if done under anesthesia, and that is the only way to get them under control at this point and to avoid further health problems. My previous vet absolutely refused to do this. I haven’t approached the current vet yet to see if they would do it, because the previous vet made me feel so bad about asking. What are your thoughts?

  10. John Sawyer

    I appreciate the trimming tips. Even my vet didnt tell me that. However the idea of using suppliments to calm your dog is not good in the slightest and should only be used as a last resort. You can very easily train even an old dog to get used to trimming their nails. I would advise against any sort of behavioural suppliments until you exhaust all training options.

  11. Ngan


    Thank you so much for writing this. I just rescued a black dog and had no idea on how to trim his nails compared to my other dogs. We give him calming chews almost every other day due to extreme anxiety. In order to trim his nails, would giving him a rare treat, say cooked chicken, will help him be more cooperative? Thanks again!

  12. Shawn

    Iv got a pit-mastiff mix and it’s the first time Iv ever had to trim black nails. I have two chi spaniels that have pink/clear nails and I do fine. But on my pit I’m super nervous. Hopefully this info will help.

  13. JoAnn

    Thank you so much for this article! Since cutting one nail quick a couple months ago, I’ve been much more nervous about clipping our dog’s nails. When we adopted her, her claws already seemed a bit too long. With regular trimmings, I got them back to nice length. And then, “Oops!”
    These pictures are especially helpful. Now I know I’m definitely not cutting back enough. I wish I saw this article before I messed up. Luckily, she’s continued to let me trim them. Now I’m confident that we will get her nails back to a healthier length.

  14. Sally

    OMG these pictures speak a thousand words! My Tibetan terrier has 2 black nails and after quicking her once and hearing her squealing, never attempted it again. After closely watching these 3 picture, I’ve just done it successfully. Thank you so much.

  15. Patricia P Viera

    Thank you for the information about the pulp. I have 4 large rescue dogs and every one of them have black nails, I have done other dogs that have since passed but their’s were white, much easier.

  16. Sarina

    Thanks for sharing this info.
    Do I understand it rightly that the black after the pulp is kind of enclosing the bone? Or how could I imagine the layering?
    Is there a kind of shpe to cut? Such as horizontal or upward? And should the two inner -or outer- claws been cut shorter or all the same size?

  17. Sophia

    Thank you so much for the clear instructions and the excellent photos to teach us how to identify the pulp. Really helpful!

  18. Ralph C May Jr

    I w ant to thank you f or the information on trimming black toe nails. I feel more confident in trimming them now that i know about the pulp in relationship to the quick.
    I have two Boykin Spaniels that don’t object to having their nails clipped.
    Many thanks


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.