How to cut black Dog nails?

Clipping Dog’s Nails

Many Dog owners at some point or another have had a Dog which needs at least one nail clipped.  This can be an anxious time, for you and Your Dog.

Do Dogs Nails Need Clipping?

Your Dog’s nails will more than likely need clipping if you don’t exercise your Dog on hard surfaces, like pavements for example.  Many Dog owners exercise their Dogs in fields, woodland or even the beach, which is all great – however it just doesn’t help to wear the nail down and they can get quite long.  Long nails can be very painful for your Dog, and can also cause your Dog to become lame.

What happens if my Dogs nails do get too long?

If your Dogs nails do get too long, as I mentioned above, it can cause your Dog to become lame, and it can affect their paws, their wrist and inevitably it can lead to joint problems.  So it is better to aim to keep them short.

 A veterinary professional or a groomer will be able to show you how to keep the nails at a good length.  (If you feel comfortable clipping your own Dogs nails)

What is a “Quick” in my Dogs nails?

Within your Dogs nail is a blood vessel (often referred to as the Quick) and nerve.  If the nail is cut too short, this can lead to bleeding and pain for the Dog.


How can I tell if I am close to the “Quick” when I cut my Dogs nails?

If you have a Dog with light coloured nails, it is often easier to see the quick in your Dogs nails as they are slightly transparent.  The quick will show as either a pinkish type hue to the nail, or can show as slight discolouration.  If you are unsure of how close you are to the quick, you could either:

  • Try taking a smaller amount of nail off to avoid risking clipping the quick


  • You could take your Dog to the groomer or vet nurse, and let them show you the best way forward.

If you have a Dog with Dark nails, you can sometimes see the Quick by shining a torch on the nail.  (Or have someone do that for you or use a head-torch like my partner does)

Click on the YouTube button at the bottom of the  page to view our own German Shepherd having his Black Nails Cut and the clippers we use. Click on the subscribe button for our YouTube Channel and be notified when new video’s are added too!

Then it is a case of clipping a little bit at a time.  Don’t be tempted to take a bigger bit, just small bits.  Often with dark nails, after clipping some of the nail, you can see a hint of the Quick line, and I don’t recommend going further.  As above, if you are in any doubt at all, please do seek advice from a professional.

Will the Quick grow to the end of the nail?

If your Dogs nails are long, and haven’t been trimmed for a while, it may be the case that the nail Quick has grown further down the nail.  Caution is needed if this has occurred.

How can I stop the Quick from growing in my Dogs nails?

You can’t stop the Quick from growing in your Dogs nails.  However, you CAN help it to recede back.

By trimming a small bit of your Dogs nails each week or so, the Quick will slowly start to recede back, so as it’s not so quite so long in the nail.

What should I do if I clip my Dogs Quick?

If you clip the Quick in your Dogs nail, it may well bleed quite a lot, and cause your Dog pain.  If it is bleeding, then if you have a first aid kit for your Dog, you may already have some styptic pen/powder that you can use to help stem the bleeding.

If you don’t have a styptic pen then I would advice that you call the vet to check what would be a suitable alternative that would be safe to use on your Dog.  (Some people recommend using corn flour or ordinary flour, however, I would check first) *Click on the image to be taken through the product link to detailed information.


IF your Dogs bleeding doesn’t seem to be slowing at all, please seek assistance from the vet as soon as possible.  It could be that your Dog has a condition which affects blood clotting, know as Von Williebrand disease.  This condition is often undetected until the Dog has a situation where he/she is bleeding, and then it comes to light due to the blood not clotting as it should.  It is often referred to as vWD. ( Please ask at your Dog’s veterinary clinic for further information about this.)

And let’s not forget, if you do clip the Quick, try to remain calm.  As your Dog will react to your panic, as well as its own.

When should I start to clip my Dogs nails?

Ideally, we should be starting to clip our Dogs nails the first week or so that we have our puppy.  Many breeders clip the puppy’s nails prior to them going to new homes.  When you first go to see the Dog you are looking to bring into your family, it is well worth asking the breeder to show you how to clip the puppies nails. Most will gladly show you.

When they are small, the breeders tend to use baby nail clippers, (like the ones we use on our babies) as the nails are tiny and soft.  However, by starting them young, they get used to the clipping noise and sensation.  And once completed without fuss they can have the occasional treat for being calm.  This process will stand you and the Dog in good stead for the years ahead.

What clippers do I use to clip my Dogs nails?

There are different types of Nail clippers for Dogs nails.  There are:

  • Guillotine Clippers These sound a tad harsh. Basically the Dog nail goes into the clippers and your squeeze the handles to cut the nail.  I am not a personal fan of these, however I know many owners who have always used them.  Without problems.
  • Grinder ToolsThese I have used, and I found that with larger Dogs, I took me a long while to get the nails down, as the part of the tool that the nail goes to in order to grind it down, tends to get warm, and smells like burning. However, there are no doubt owners who also swear by them.  I can only tell you my personal experience with them.
  • Scissor type I have only ever used one pair of Scissor type clippers, and they didn’t seem strong enough to work on my big breed Dogs nails. They didn’t cut the whole nail, and broke before I could try to redo most of the nails.  They may be more suitable for smaller breed Dogs. 
  • Pliers typeThese are the ones I always refer back to as I have never had a problem with them. All our Dogs nails have been cut great with these Pliers type of clippers.

If you check out our YouTube videos, you will see one of our Dogs having his nails cut with a pair of Mikki brand nail clippers.  The Pliers type.

Click on the YouTube button below to view our own German Shepherd having his Black Nails Cut and the clippers we use. Click on the subscribe button for our YouTube Channel and be notified when new video’s are added too!