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When to clip
If your dog does a lot of walking on hard surfaces (in particular, concrete), the nails may not need regular clipping at all; or if they do, only the front paws and dew claws. If your dog does not have regular exercise on hard surfaces, itís likely the claws will need at least semi-regular trimming.
An audible clicking when the dog walks on hard surfaces is generally okay, providing thereís a gap between the dogís claws and the ground when standing still. This can be checked by sliding a sheet of paper beneath the claws, if the paper catches on claw, they need to be trimmed back. In other cases, the shape of the dogís foot prevents the claws from wearing sufficiently and the paper test can give inaccurate results; if youíre not sure, veterinary advice should be sought- overly long claws can cause dogs considerable discomfort and lead to more costly and dangerous problems over time.

How to clip
The key to keeping claws at reasonable length is routine. Claws are easier to cut and the process less stressful for the dog if claw length is managed and claws not allowed to become overgrown. As the dogís claw grows, the quick continues to grow downwards inside it, meaning that the claw cannot be simply trimmed back to optimal length and the quick has to be trained back up by a more difficult and time-consuming routine of regular clipping.
To trim, the first step is to identify the quick (itís the pinkish shape inside the nail). In the case of black claws where the quick cannot be seen, unless you have considerable experience in trimming black claws, itís safer and often just as easy to file the claw back instead (taking care to ensure the abrasion doesnít heat the claw up too much).
Once the quick has been found, position the clippers vertically (ie, positioned to cut vertically to the claw if the dog were standing normally, rather than at an angle) and before cutting, take a moment to ensure the quick is well back from the cut line (cutting the quick tends to be quite painful for the dog and may result in later difficulties in claw trimming). When ready, hold the dog firmly and cut quickly; slowly squeezing through the claw will crush the quick and hurt the dog . Keep cuts gradual, youíre far less likely to hurt your dog if you trim in one millimetre increments, even if it requires two or more cuts to obtain the required length.

Continue making one millimetre cuts until the claw passes the paper test and then quit while youíre ahead. If you cut into the quick, the greyhound will be more likely to respond poorly to future attempts to trim its claws.
Any excessively sharp edges can then be gently filed back.
For greyhounds who react poorly to trimming, it may be safer to muzzle the dog and have someone at the dogís head, preventing it from turning towards the person doing the trimming.

Content used with permission (C) Greyhound Haven 2010 - 2016


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