Main Border Collies

A Canine Pedicure

Long nails can affect your dog's gait, posture, performance and confidence, resulting in possible lameness, injury and arthritis.

With changing methods of managing sheep and working our dogs are spending more time running on grass than on the roads as they used to.
This change has led to many of our dogs not naturally wearing down their nails; a problem that is also a serious one for the aged dogs in our community.

Dog's nails are constantly growing, just like our nails and horses hooves.


When the nails are long:
· They may result in a dog that stands with chronic bad posture and moves with an altered gait.
· They may be rammed back into the nail bed causing bruising, possible infection and broken toes.
· They may be responsible for jarring and lameness as well as arthritis.
· Through the effect of posture imbalance, it may also affect the foot, knee, hock, hip, shoulder and mid back which leave them susceptible to repetitive strains and injury.
· They may push the toes up or twist them, the toe joints can then become twisted, arthritic, painful and even dislocated.

Trimming the nails, especially in an old dog, may relieve the weight from the hips etc.
Good feet help the dog to stand square and work with confidence and ease.

How long should the nails be?

· The claws/nails should not protrude over the pad and should just about touch the ground when standing.
· When a dog’s nails grow enough to be heard tapping on a tile floor as they walk, they are more than ready for a trim.

When and how do I clip them?

· The quick is the cuticle
· The quick can be easily seen in clear or white coloured nails but is more difficult in the black ones.
· Great care must be taken to avoid cutting the quick which is the blood vessel and the collection of nerve endings. ( Diag 2)

· When the nail grows so will the quick. If you do not cut the nail short enough to encourage the quick to recede, the nail will remain long.

· Cut the nail so that the quick recedes and the nail can be cut shorter again at a later date. (Diag 3 )
· Some dogs have a longer quick than others and these need to be done more often.
· Usually, the longer the nail, the longer the quick, the longer it takes to get the nails short.
· A large pair of clippers is not necessary and it is up to individual taste as to which type is used. A good quality nail clipper (human) is quite useful but they must be sharp. You are not chopping at the nails but ‘whittling’ away at them.

The following method helps to get the dog’s nails shorter without hurting them or touching the quick but at the same time getting the quick to recede. The main idea is to trim around the quick and allow it to dry up and recede on its own. ( Diag 4)

Have an antiseptic powder to treat and stem any bleeding, should you cut too close to the quick.
Clipping away at the sides and end of the nail, exposing the tip of the quick. Clear away the flaky nail and the soft white stuff.
The majority of the cuts should be parralel to the quick and not across it.
The nails should be very much shorter after 3 trims in about 6 weeks, by which time there should be a noticeable improvement. Each time taking a bit more nail off and exposing a bit more quick, enabling it to again, dry and recede.

· Once the nails are short, then just keep an eye on them and clip when needed.

I am not a Vet or an expert in this matter but the following is basically an account of my experience and my research on the subject and is used at your own risk.