The Right and Unique Way to Cut Dog Nails That are Black

If you are a dog owner you know that it is necessary to regularly trim your dog’s toenails. Firstly you need to learn about the anatomy of a dog’s toenails so you will know what you need to cut and what you need to avoid.

Dogs’ toenails consist of two key components: the toenail itself as well as the quick. The toenail is made of a hard outer shell.

This is pretty similar to your own nails. The quick is where the dog’s blood vessels and nerves are located. It is the inner cuticle of the toenail.

You need to learn how to cut your dog’s black nails and avoid cutting into the quick, which would cause pain and bleeding.

If this is the first time your dog has had his nails trimmed, he could be a bit nervous and scared. This is why you should begin cutting your dog’s nails when they are a puppy. That way they will be used to the process and not so scared.

It also gets complicated if the dog’s toenails are colored black, as it is harder to see the quick versus if the dog’s nails are either white or clear.

Dogs can have any of those nail colors or even all three at the same time!

How to Cut Dog Nails That are Black and Overgrown

Hints for Cutting a Dog’s Nails:

Do it when they are tired

One hint for cutting dog toenails is to do it when they are tired so they will be calmer. This way they have less energy to fight you.

So do it after a long walk or play session. If your dog is energetic he might pull away from you and cause you to accidentally cut him in the wrong place.

Make sure your dog is comfortable

It doesn’t matter if your dog is lying on his back or stomach or if you are holding them or not holding them, so long as the dog is comfortable and calm. Small dogs do well to be held in your lap.  

They do make harnesses to keep dogs in while you trim their nails, but mostly those are only used by professional groomers.

Distract your dog

If needed you can distract your dog from getting their nails done via putting some peanut butter on something and putting it within reach of your dog.

They can eat it while you are doing your cutting so they will pay less attention to what you are doing.

Lift up one paw at a time

To get started lift up any paw and gently pinch the nail. You put your thumb and index finger over the nail and squeeze with a small amount of pressure.

This will extend their nail as far out as possible so you can reach it better. Be sure you are steady and well-oriented prior to beginning to trim the nail.

Related Post: The Best Ways to Moisturize Your Dog Paws 

Line up the nail trimmers

You want to line up the nail trimmers carefully so that you will be able to cut off only the curved area of your dog’s nails and do so at a 45-degree angle. You only should cut a little at a time since it will be hard to see the quick if your dog’s nails are black.

You can always trim a bit more if needed. You line up the clipper blades and place them over the curved area where it points downward. The quick can grow and recede over time.

There is no uniform rule regarding how much you can remove, but the quick rarely develops into the tip of the nail where it curls down, so that’s a safe place to start.

Clip nail at a 45-degree angle

Gently clip off the nail a little at a time. Be sure to inspect the nail each time you do this. If the nail’s texture is starting to get chalky and white looking, that is quick so there is nothing else to trim.

If you keep going you are going to make your dog bleed, so stop at this point and go on to the next toenail and repeat.

File the nail if needed

After trimming the dog’s nail you can use a file to smooth it out so it won’t have sharp edges the dog might catch on something and tear the nail. You can use a file the same as the kind humans use.

Trick for making sure where the quick is located

If you are having a hard time finding the quick on the dog’s nails, get a flashlight or even use the light on your phone.

Hold the flashlight against the back part of the dog’s toenail. The light should help illuminate the outline and where the color changes to find the quick.

What to do stop bleeding if it happens

If you accidentally nick the dog’s quick area, then you can dip the nail into either flour or cornstarch to make it clot and protect the area.

Or you can buy a styptic pen or powder and use that as well.

Related Post: How to Stop a Dog’s Nail from Bleeding 

Give treats as you go

While trimming the nails you should give the dog treats to show you are happy with the progress. Plus it keeps them happy and makes your job easier.

Take your time

The most important thing to do is not to rush while trimming the dog’s nails. If you rush you could cut his quick or make him scared and nervous.

If cutting your dog’s nails is hard for you then you can always get a dog groomer to do it.

Types of dog toenail trimmers

There are two kinds of dog toenail trimmers to choose from. These include guillotine and scissors.

It doesn’t matter which you pick and mostly it is personal preference. Some folks like the guillotine ones better because they are a bit more precise, but both work fine.


How short should a dog’s toenails be? 

They should be short enough so you don’t hear their toenails clicking on the floor.

Why is it harder to cut dog’s nails if they are black? 

This is harder because the entire nail is black so the quick may blend in with the rest of the nail. White or clear nails don’t present that problem.

What if I accidentally cut my dog’s quick and it bleeds? 

If this happens you need to dip the bleeding part into flour, cornstarch, or styptic powder. You can also try baking soda or even ice if that is all you have.

Are black nails normal for dogs? 

Yes, it is normal for dogs to have black nails, as well as clear nails. It depends on the coloring of the dog and perhaps the breed.

How can I calm my dog to trim his nails? 

It is simple to keep your dog calm while cutting their toenails. Just praise him and talk nicely to him, pat him and offer him treats as you go. If you start a dog as a puppy it will be less likely to be nervous.

Does it hurt to cut a dog’s quick? 

Yes, it is very painful for your dog if you cut into the quick of the nail. It could also cause bleeding and you will need to keep a styptic pencil or other substance like flour or cornstarch to make the blood clot.

Can I use a human nail file on my dog? 

Yes, you can use a human nail file on your dog, or you can buy a grinder made especially for pets. Either one smooths out the rough spots after you have trimmed the nail.

What happens if I don’t cut my dogs nails?

 If you don’t trim their nails, the dog will be unable to walk properly since the nails will eventually curve inward and can even grow into the dog’s foot and become infected. This could even lead to a dog’s death!

What angle do you cut dogs nails? 

When you use a clipper to cut a dog’s nails, it should be held up to the dog’s foot at a 45-degree angle for best results.

What is the easiest way to cut a dog’s nails? 

You can use either a scissors-type clipper or a guillotine-type clipper or buy one that uses batteries or plugs into the wall. Each of these is fairly easy to use and it really boils down to personal preference of which one you prefer.


All in all, it can be easy to know how to cut dog nails that are black if you go slowly and pay attention as you go while keeping the dog calm. If you need help, talk to your veterinarian or a groomer.

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