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