Nail Clipping

Long Nails = Unsound Dog

Click here to see Susan Garrett's AWESOME video about dogs' nails, how they influence overall health AND how to positively train them to accept.. or even enjoy... nail clipping. [24:14]

The condition of our pups' nails is a part of overall fitness. Nails that are too long affect our dogs orthopedically; overgrown nails push a dog's wrists back and down (see image below). You should be able to pass a credit card under your pup's nails when he's standing. Nails need to be trimmed about every 1-2 weeks, so don't leave it up to your vet clinic or groomer to get the job done. Learn how to do it yourself so you can monitor your dog's health and maintain positive handling habits. If you do it right, it's quick and easy and your pup will be a cooperative patient. Click here to watch a Golden Retriever puppy being positively introduced to having her nails dremeled (filed). A perch and licki mat help make it a happy experience [1:45]!


Dog Nails Orthopedic

image from

Nail Trims Do Not Hurt! Unless....

1.  The dog is struggling. This is addressed proactively through training. If a pup is struggling, it means we have gone too far, too fast. Baby steps are key! Don't worry about clipping all nails in one go. Break the whole process up into tiny steps and be generous with rewarding. A pup who is pushed too far will not forget, and the next time will be more challenging.

2.  You nick the quick. Don't panic if this happens! Immediately offer an apology party/feast and use styptic powder to stop the bleeding if it's bleeding a lot.

Love Mud Dog Lady (groomer) showing nail trims

Click here to see a puppy having her nails clipped at PupStart

Where is the quick?

"Stop at the Dot." White nails are easy because you can see right through them and the "dot" is pink. Dark nails have a black "dot": see the tiny dark crescent in the photo below? It indicates the outer limit of the quick, which is the live area of the nail containing blood vessels and nerve endings. The goal is to trim just to this point on a regular basis in order to maintain a pup's nails and feet. The quick becomes visible as a small black cresent or dot. Once you arrive at that point, stop. 

Below is a large sliver I took from the nail you see above on the left. It was a tiny bit too much.

The result: I "quicked" my dog and caused him to bleed (the least amount possible). Compare the two nails.


See the high res below for a better view.