Dear Labby

Share Button

Dear Labby_oldDear Labby,

We just adopted a dog from the local shelter and we love her like crazy already, but her long nails are scratching our hardwood floors and she makes a lot of noise with them, clickety-click-click. I’ve never had to cut my dogs toenails before – am I supposed to do that? And how?

Toenail Tapper

Dear Tapper,

Congratulations on your new addition and kudos to you for adopting from the shelter. Toenail trimming? Great question! I’ve never had to cut the nails of our Labs – they just natural wear down from walking on pavement and running. But, depending on the type of dog and the curve of their toes, they may not wear down or wear down evenly. If your dog is small or mostly an indoor dog that doesn’t pound the pavement, you will need to clip their nails.

Dogs have four toes and a dew claw – although the dew claw may have been removed as a puppy (a controversial jacks feetprocedure) or they may have them only on the front legs. These dew claws typically don’t touch the ground, so of course they won’t wear down. It’s been my experience (again with Labs) that these don’t grow very fast, if at all, so I don’t pay them much mind. I did have to have them trimmed on Tino once or twice and you do have to watch them because they could get quite long.The removal of the dew claws is deemed necessary by some as they can easily catch on something and injure the dog. But you have to weigh that possibility against the surgical removal of the dew claw and all that surgery entails. In addition, dogs whose dew claws do touch the ground may be at a disadvantage if they are removed.

So, how do you do it? As I said, I’ve never had to, so I’m no expert at this. But Dear Labby always has an answer, so I put my librarian hat on and checked out the internet for some reliable tips. Here’s a few that might be helpful:

Of course, you can always ask your vet or your dog’s groomer to trim them for you. Good Luck!

Readers – any other words of advice for Toenail Tapper?


We’re joining up with 2 Brown Dawgs for This ‘N That Thursday Blog Hop!


Share Button


  1. Thanks SlimDoggy! Kayo wears her nails down pretty regularly too, though I do have a trimmer for the occasional grooming. I don’t use the cutters since Kayo has never been into that. There’s a rotating nail file that has never bothered her and it’s pretty impossible to hit the quick unless you’re really not paying attention – it also doesn’t splinter the nail which a lot of cutters do. I love it and recommend it for anyone whose dog has black or brown nails (where it’s hard to see the quick) or for anyone who didn’t get their dog used to it from when they were a puppy. It takes a little longer but makes it SO easy!
    BoingyDog recently posted…Wordless Wednesday: Power of the PackMy Profile

    • Thanks for the extra advice – I neglected to even mention the quick – you can see how little I’ve had to pay attention to nail trimming.
      mkob recently posted…Dear Labby My Profile

  2. The nails do tend to wear down if the dog is active but it is also important to make sure and trim them back every couple of weeks if they are not wearing down, otherwise the quick will grow so you can’t trim them back as far, which means you have to start trimming a tiny bit every week or two, making the quick recede so you can get the nail shorter. Make sure and check all the nails regularly as some may need a trim.
    emma recently posted…I wonder how many photos? | GBGVMy Profile

    • Thanks for the extra tips Emma.
      mkob recently posted…Dear Labby My Profile

  3. None of our dogs like having their nails clipped, but the boys tolerate the chore. Sydney makes it a huge issue. What I’ve learned over the past 3 years is to avoid any guillotine style clippers – they cause dogs pain and exacerbate any fear of having their nails trimmed. We use a set by Miller’s Forge and I have treats on hand to reward the dogs for calm behavior.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Why Dogs Lean and Other Ways Dogs Show Affection Towards UsMy Profile

    • Yes, those guillotine type ones could really injure the dog and then make any future session impossible. I feel pretty lucky we haven’t had to worry about this.
      mkob recently posted…Dear Labby My Profile

  4. We think Emmett didn’t have much toenail maintenance as a young lad because his quicks are LONG! To keep him from injuring himself (his nails have split or ripped several times in the past… ouch) we use a Dremel every two weeks and clip the tips about once a month. To make it fun for him, I smear a plate with peanut butter and let him go to town while I tackle his nails.
    Maggie recently posted…Dog training resource: Free Mini-Session Training PrintableMy Profile

  5. Toenail cutting is tricky and I don’t like doing it as much as Donna. 😛 Unfortunately her nails grow fast, even if we pound the pavement more than 1hr a day. Guess that’s not enough 😛
    weliveinaflat with donna recently posted…Fecal chart shows pet health by scoring poopMy Profile

    • High metabolism?
      mkob recently posted…Dear Labby My Profile

  6. Great question and advice from all. i teach them to lay down and trim a little at a time. make it enjoyable and use lots of treats and praise. i only take off the thin curvy tip so when the nail starts to get thicker i go just before that if the nails are nlack if the nails are white then trim just befire the pink.
    joann stancer recently posted…This ‘N That ThursdayMy Profile

  7. Thanks for linking up to TNT. We trim our dogs’ nails. I also trim the cat’s nails. The main thing is to be very patient and use treats as a reward, (although kitty doesn’t like treats so she just gets pets. :)).

    About the dew claws, we have had them removed on our dogs. Normally they are done when the pups are 3 days old and it is a very simple procedure as they are very small (the claws). You might remember that one of Freighter’s grew back and we had it removed when he was just over a year. It was a very simple surgery with a short recovery time. We considered leaving it, but the chance that it might catch while he was running through brush made us decide to remove it. If we had left it and it ripped, then that is a long and painful recovery. We just didn’t want to chance it. If he was a non-hunting dog, we may not have bothered.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…This ‘N That ThursdayMy Profile

    • Exactly, in some cases leaving the dew claw in place can be a real risk – especially for sporting dogs like yours that are running and in the brush and twisting and turning – potential disaster!
      mkob recently posted…Dear Labby My Profile

  8. Both of our beagles came to us with their dewclaws already removed. Our Golden Sheba actually tends to chew on hers, even though I try to keep them trimmed! I try to trim all their nails every two weeks, or at the least once a month. They get lots of small treats so they don’t mind it as much. I find the nails on the back paws stay shorter than the fronts. Because our dogs mostly walk/play on grass or dirt trails though, they don’t wear down much on their own. If our dogs have to go for surgery for anything, our vet’s office will always trim them for free then. I don’t think they normally charge much to do it anyway, but I prefer to save the money and do it myself.
    I had never trimmed a cat’s nails, like 2 Brown Dawgs, but our cat Sam kept getting ingrown nails, and she would stick when walking across fabric, so now I do hers too (front only)!
    Jan K recently posted…Book Review: What the Dog AteMy Profile

    • I think doing a cats nails might be a bit more troublesome that a dogs. Does he put up with it okay?
      mkob recently posted…Dear Labby My Profile

      • No, not really. I usually have to do one paw, take a break, and come back for the second one. But at least she doesn’t bite me, which my other cats does when I just try to brush him!
        Jan K recently posted…August K9 Kamp ChallengeMy Profile

  9. Hi Y’all!

    My Human has always done her dog’s nails. She uses a dermal for filing. If my nails get long ’cause she misses a week (grass and water don’t keep my nails short) she does nip the tips first.

    The other day we saw a site that addressed nail trimming…can’t remember whose…and suggested lookin’ at the BOTTOM of the nails instead of the side…got to find out whose ’cause they showed exactly where to cut…maybe someone else read it too and remembers.

    Y’all come back now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…It’s Been a Week of This n That n Something Else…My Profile

    • Hope someone knows or you remember that site – it would be good to add it here.
      mkob recently posted…Dear Labby My Profile

  10. I get my nails trimmed every month, and I haven’t done much damage to our hardwood floors. However, hardwood floors can pose a challenge because it’s sometimes hard to get traction. We have friends who use booties on their dogs to prevent scratching the hardwood floors and also to keep the dog from slipping. Pawz (like Sugar uses) ( are good for this, and there are also non-disposable ones you can get in various places like REI.

    Garth Riley recently posted…Wordless Wednesday – BarkWorld EditionMy Profile

Comments are now closed on this post.