Black Nails

Posted by Smoke-Jensen1
Oct 4, 2011
I have an Blue Heeler, aka. Australian Cattle Dog. She has black nails and I find it difficult to trim them. Is there a standard that I can follow? I'm always hesitant to trim them for fear of hurting her. Can anyone provide a guide for me?
Thank you.
Posted by KOPCaroline
Oct 5, 2011
Hey Smoke Jensen,

I'll tell you what I've been taught in the various vet clinics I've worked in about clipping black nails -

Generally, the quick (the part that bleeds) is proportionally the same length in most dogs relative to the size of their nails, so if you have another dog you can take a peek at, look at their nails to get a general idea of how much of the nail is pink/the quick.

For black nails, the key is to take the TINIEST bit off at a time, just keep chipping a bit off with each clip of the trimmers - it will take more time to trim all their nails, but its pretty worth it to avoid hurting the dog. I was told that you can aim to to take the nail back enough that its flat with the end of the hairs on their feet, and so its not touching the ground then the dog is standing flat footed. It may not look like you're trimming a lot off, and you may find that with this you have to clip nails more often (twice a month instead of once a month, or something), but yea. Thats how I was taught, and its worked well for me - I haven't made a dog bleed in ages!

I'm sure you know that if you do slip and accidentally cut your pup, that while they may yelp at first, try not to be too distressed, it only hurts for a split second. If they bleed, pack it with corn flour (regular flour should work if you dont' have corn flour), or you can buy a tube of what the vets use in the clinic if you want. This stops the bleeding pretty quickly, and doesn't hurt your dog!

Hope this helps!
Posted by carla-wilson
Jul 3, 2012
I just trim weekly a tiny bit and then it's no big deal
Posted by Preethi KOP
Aug 17, 2014
Hi Carla,

Thanks for your input. Trimming weekly will certainly make the chance of having a bleeder very unlikely.