guide on how to find the quick on black dog nails

How to Find the Quick on Black Dog Nails?

The quick on black dog nails is impossible to see. On a dog with clear nails, owners can very easily see soft pink tissue at the center of the nail. Lots of dogs have black nails or at least one or two, so how do you clip your dog’s nails at home safely if you can’t see the quick? We understand that it does not instill confidence at all if you can’t see the quick within black nails.

How to Find the Quick on Black Dog Nails
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You could always get your dog’s nails trimmed at the groomers, but you will more than likely have to do it a few times between sessions on your own. Don’t worry, we have your back. From locating the quick to the proper equipment to use, we have you covered below.

How to See The Quick On Black Dog Nails?

How To See The Quick On Black Dog Nails?
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You can’t see the quick on black dog nails because the quick is also black. The key is to find the pulp first if your dog has black nails. The pulp is the black center of the nail and it is very close to the quick.

How Do I Know When I Need to Stop Cutting?

How Do I Know When I Need to Stop Cutting?
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The quick is very delicate, so to prevent you from cutting it, you should stop when you find the pulp. But how do you find the pulp?

Start by trimming black dog nails little by little. We’re talking about a few millimeters at a time. You don’t want to take off too big a chunk because it risks cutting the pulp and then the quick. Look at the center of your dog’s nail after each cut. If you see a black spout, then you have hit the pulp.

Another way to locate the pulp is by looking under black dog nails. The pulp is located within the curvature of your dog’s nail.

Once you’ve got the pulp, the quick should reveal itself quickly after. The quick on a black dog’s nail is a dark spot in the center. Once you see this, stop cutting. Cutting black dog nails slowly can also prevent you from splintering or cracking the nail, which can happen with hard dog nails.

Your dog may be resistant to the whole process because the pressure of the dog nail clippers coming down is very unpleasant, so make sure to have plenty of treats on hand to reward him after every cut.

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Is it Really Such a Bad Thing to Cut the Quick? And What to Do If You Do

Is it Really Such a Bad Thing to Cut the Quick? And What to Do If You Do
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Yes, it’s bad to cut the quick but it’s not the end of the world so don’t panic! Cutting your dog’s quick will be painful for him, and it’s possible that you may even see some blood. Your heart may break but it’s important to act fast. Also, keep in mind that the quick is a congregation of nerves under the dog nail, so your pup will not sit still for the rest of the nail cutting – and that’s okay.

Give your dog a break and hold off on nail cutting for a while just to let him recuperate. If there is no blood, just comfort your dog and save the other dog nails for a later date. If there is some bleeding, then you will need to take quick action.

Stop Nail Bleeding with Styptic Powder

Make sure you have some styptic powder, cornstarch, baking soda, or even bar soap that can make good substitutes in a pinch. Wipe the area clean and apply a bit of pressure while you stop the bleeding with the powder. The goal is to “plug” the injury to not only stop the bleeding but prevent infection. You should also give your dog a few days to heal before you take him out and let him play in the dirt.

Equipment: Guillotine Clipper, Scissors Clipper, or Dremel/Nail Grinder?

Equipment: Guillotine Clipper, Scissors Clipper, or Dremel/Nail Grinder?
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There are several tools you can rely on to trim black dog nails. Dog nail trimmers are divided into two general categories – nail clippers and nail grinders. There is no correct choice, just whichever one works for you and your dog.

For nail clipping, you have guillotine-style and scissor clippers. The scissor-style nail clipper is very intuitive as it works like a pair of scissors. You would place your dog’s black nails in the little indent in the blade and bring the blades together. Brittle and very hard dark nails can pose an issue if you trim them with scissor clippers. This is because there is a risk of splintering and breaking. Scissor clippers are excellent for black dog nails on a calmer dog.

You then have the guillotine-style clippers, which function like a guillotine with one blade coming down on top of the nail – much like nail clippers for humans. Like with scissor clippers, guillotine clippers also require precision. You have to know exactly where to cut before making the cut to avoid the quick.

Nail clippers are efficient and easy to use once you have the hang of it, but for beginners who don’t have much confidence in their dog and their abilities, we would recommend going for the dog nail grinders.

Dog nail grinders feature a rotating bit at the tip with a very coarse surface to sand down your dog’s nails. These tools are also referred to as Dremels, and they operate as sandpaper would smooth out wood surfaces.

The chances of nipping your dog’s quick with a nail grinder are much lower because there is more control over the application. The grinding process is also slower than lopping off a chunk of nails. However, that’s not to say there are no downsides to choosing the grinder over traditional clippers.

The sound of the motor starting up may be very unpleasant to some dogs. In fact, they could learn to associate the sound with nail trimming and flee every time. The strange vibrations your dog feels through his nails once you start grinding may also be unacceptable for some. Then there is the cleanup, which is much more time-consuming compared to cutting dog nails as the nail powder has the tendency to go everywhere.

One major benefit of using dog nail grinders is the smoother surface they leave behind. Trimming black dog nails with clippers leaves a very hard and abrasive edge, which will take a few walks to smooth out. In the meantime, the rough surface can scratch up floors, couches and even break the skin.

It may take some time to find the right tool. There are also dogs who just cannot handle clippers or grinders, but thankfully, there is one more solution to the problem – dog nail files.

Dog nail files are not traditional devices, but they’re easy to come by online. A dog nail file is basically a large board with a sandpaper surface, like our nail files. What dog owners would train their dog to do is to scratch the surface vigorously, like the way dogs do when they’re trying to settle before bed.

The most difficult part about utilizing a dog nail file is the training. Your dog won’t understand what to do, so this could take some time. However, you can speed up the training process with positive reinforcement. There won’t be any worrying about accidentally cutting the quick and it’s less likely that your dog will resist nail trimming with the file.

Is There a Proper Way to Hold or Angle the Clipper?

The best way is to hold the clippers in a secure grip and cut straight across your dog’s nails. The same goes for the dew claw, which is the extra nail you have around your dog’s ankle area. You can also choose to cut the nail at a very slight angle to avoid cutting across the quick.

You should make sure to hold your dog’s paw firmly and press down gently on his paw pads and the top of his paw to allow the nail to extend a bit further for more surface area to work with. Another tip is to keep the paws groomed. Shave the fur between his paw pads, toes, and any that covers the nail that may obstruct your vision.

How Often Should I Cut My Dog’s Nails?

how often should i cut my dog's nails
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We suggest monitoring your dog’s paws regularly, but when you start to hear the click-clack of his nails on hard floors, you know it’s time for a trim. How often this is will vary from dog to dog. Dogs who do not get their nails trimmed regularly will have a longer quick, which means even if you give him a fresh cut, his nails may still be long.

The quick is a very interesting part of your dog’s anatomy and will recede if you cut your dog’s nails frequently. This is why we recommend regular grooming. Most dogs can use a trim every week or every two weeks. We don’t suggest leaving it for longer than that.

Problems with Long Dog Nails

Other than clickety clacking on hard floors, is there really a problem with overgrown nails? Trimming black nails or clear nails is more than just cosmetic, it’s also a health issue as well. Long nails can cause deformities, injuries to your dog’s tendons, and a splayed foot.

Long black nails may also crack, bend, or chip resulting in infections that are hard to heal. You may also get ingrown nails and all these problems can be very painful for your dog, so it’s important to keep the nails short. Once you hear that familiar clicking, then it’s time to break out the nail-cutting equipment.

Getting Your Dog Acquainted with Nail Trimming Tools

getting your dog acquainted with nail trimming tools
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As we said, any type of training will take time, patience, and effort, the same goes for nail trimming. You must first get your dog to accept the tool, then ease him into the cutting process. Your dog’s favorite treats are your best friend, as well as plenty of encouragement. Sometimes it’s important to know when to take a break and not force your dog when he’s feeling extra antsy.

Start this process by letting your fur baby inspect the tool. He may want to sniff, paw at it, or even lick it. Try not to let him lick it but allow your dog to do what he needs to feel more comfortable before you do the actual cutting.

Once your dog accepts the tool, you can try tapping it against his nails, then try gripping his paws and placing the nail within the clipper without clipping just yet. It’s a step-by-step incremental process that could span days.

For nail grinders, we would suggest introducing the tool, then tapping it against your dog’s nails, and then turning it on to get your dog used to the motor sound. He may be taken aback, but give him some time. The strange vibrations of the bit may also take time to get used to, especially since it’s a more prolonged process compared to clipping.

Just keep the treats coming and your dog will get it sooner or later. Remember that you can always go for the nail file and teach your dog to scratch at it when his nails get too long.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the quick in black dog nails?

The quick in black dog nails are in the same location as the quick in clear nails. The difference is you can’t readily see the quick on black dog nails. To find it, you have to be very careful when cutting and do it slowly. Stop when you see the little black dot in the middle of your dog’s nail. Keep your eyes peeled and check closely with every trim.

Is there a trick to cutting black dog nails?

The trick to cutting black dog nails is identifying the quick. The process is slow, and you have to make sure to stop when you see the black dot in the center of the nail, which is the quick. Just in case there are any accidents, have styptic powder ready to stop the bleeding. If you don’t have this, you can use corn starch, bar soap, or baking soda as a stand-in.


Trimming black dog nails will take more care and effort, but it can be done with time. If you are not confident in your skills with black dog nails, you can always try using a nail grinder, and stopping when your dog’s nails are no longer touching the ground, or use a nail file, which dogs can use to file their own nails by scratching. The training will take some time, but your dog will have a better understanding of when to stop with a nail file.

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