How To Find The Quick On Black Dog Nails

Trimming black dog nails can be a challenge, but luckily there is a tried and true method to locating the quick. Many dog owners hesitate to trim black dog nails for fear of accidentally cutting the quick and hurting their dog. 

Unfortunately, not trimming your dog’s nails could cause injury. Once you have all of the steps to find the quick on black dog nails, you’ll realize how easy clipping them can be.

Understanding Dog Nail Anatomy

The best way to successfully cut your dog’s nails is to understand all their layers. The “quick” is a sensitive area with nerves and blood vessels.

If you accidentally snip the quick, it can cause bleeding and pain for your dog. Accidents happen, so don’t be too hard on yourself – especially if you’re new to cutting black dog nails.

Many dogs have white nails, allowing you to see the quick easily. However, you can’t see it on dogs with black nails. So, how do you locate it?

Locating the Quick on Black Dog Nails

Because a dog with black nails will mask the quick, you won’t be able to see it. So if you see the quick on black dog nails, you accidentally went too far.

So, instead, your goal is to find the pulp.

How To Find the Pulp on Black Dog Nails

The pulp is a dark layer within the nails next to the quick. Once you reach this area, this is your sign of stopping trimming because you’re very close to reaching the quick.

Steps to locate the pulp:

  1. Clip small sections, no more than 1/4 an inch.
  2. Once you reach an area with white, clip again.
  3. Continue to clip small amounts until you see a dark gray oval-like shape
  4. After you see dark gray or black, stop cutting

You can also look at the bottom of your dog’s nail. There is a groove where the tough nail exterior transitions to a fleshy-like tissue, aka the pulp.

If you are unsure if you’ve reached the quick, gently squeeze your dog’s nail. Use light pressure when pressing. If the pup yanks its paw away, this signals that you are close to the quick and can stop trimming.

Why Is It Important To Cut the Black Dog Nails up to the Pulp?

It may be tempting to stop when you see the white area on your dog’s nail. While this may seem like a safe bet to avoid the quick, it can make trimming nails in the future more challenging.

Your dog’s quick will keep growing by stopping the trim too soon. If the quick gets too long, it’ll be impossible to cut their nails short enough.

Long nails can cause discomfort and even injury to your dog. It’s important to cut to the pulp to allow the quick to recede.

Learn How To Treat a Dog Nail Separated From the Quick

How to Trim Black Dog Nails

You can trim more quickly now that you know how to find the quick on black dog nails. Here are some additional steps to keep in mind when trimming black dog nails.

Get Your Dog Comfortable With Nail Clippings

Nervous pups will make trimming their nails more difficult for you both. Here are a few tips for keeping your dog relaxed while you clip their nails:

  • Get your dog comfortable with any tools you plan to use: Place the nail clippers near your dog without actually clipping them at first. Gently press the clippers near your dog’s nail and offer a treat to create a positive association.
  • Create a peaceful environment: Go to a quiet room without any distractions.
  • Have treats during the process: Offer a treat when your dog allows you to clip their nails. Offering an incentive can help create a positive association with getting their nails cut.

Keep Styptic Powder on Hand

It can be daunting to locate the quick on black dog nails the first couple of times you do so. Even after educating yourself, it can still be worrisome. The process needs to be slow and steady.

Be prepared by having styptic powder on hand before clipping your pup’s nails. This powder will stop the bleeding quickly. You may accidentally cut the quick during the first few rounds. 

Trim Long Hair Around Paws

If your dog has excess fur on its paws, use a small pair of scissors to trim some of it. By removing the hair, you’ll see the nail more easily.

Use a Good Nail Clipper

Good nail clippers will make your job of finding the quick much easier. Dull blades won’t give you an even cut, which will distort your vision of the nail.

Clip Fast but Go Slow

While clipping your dog’s nails, you’ll need to press the clippers down rapidly. Even with the best dog nail clippers, the actual cut needs to be strong to ensure a clean cut.

Although it’s important to clip fast, you’ll want to move slowly throughout the process. By trimming rapidly or cutting off large chunks of the nail at a time, you’re likely to miss signs of the pulp.

Trim tiny sections at a time, less than ¼ of an inch. As previously mentioned, look for the white area as you clip. Once you reach the dark gray or black circular shape, you can stop.

You may also see pink as you clip, which is another indication to stop.

Keep Cutting Until You Reach the Pulp

Remember to cut until you reach the pulp. If you, for some reason, stop trimming early, you’ll need a few weekly clippings to allow the quick to recede.

Trim Dog’s Nails Regularly

Once you notice your dog’s nails getting long again, you’ll need to repeat this process. Keeping their nails short may seem unnecessary, but it’s essential for your dog’s health.

Not only can long dog nails lead to health problems, but they may even lead to deformities in their paws.

Problems dogs with long nails may also experience:

  • Joint injury: The dog’s nail is attached to the bone. As nails grow, they put more pressure on their joints, which is painful for your pup.
  • Spine or muscle strain: It’s challenging for dogs with long nails to walk appropriately. This misaligned movement can cause pain or injury to their muscles and spine.
  • Infection: Long nails may lead to ingrown nails, which are painful and may lead to dangerous conditions.

According to the ASPCA, you should trim your dog’s nails as soon as they are almost long enough to touch the floor. 

Final Thoughts On The Quick of Dog Nails

Clipping a dog’s nails can be stressful for both you and your dog, especially when finding the quick on black dog nails. 

By educating yourself on locating the quick, you can create a more easy-going experience. But, of course, mistakes happen, so don’t be too hard on yourself; just be sure to have some styptic powder on hand.

Photo of author

Dr. Jacob Hawthorne, DVM

Dr. Jacob Hawthorne, DVM is a certified veterinarian who graduated from the University of California - Davis Veterinary School in 2012. He specializes in nutrition and veterinary medicine for companion animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, and more. He has been featured in websites such as PetMD, Yahoo News, Hills Pet, Daily Paws, and more. Learn more about Dr. Jacob Hawthorne, DVM.

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