Nails being trimmed on an English Labrador

Why It’s Important to Keep Your Labrador’s Nails Trimmed

In September 5, 2013

Long nails affect your lab in more ways than you might realize.  Keeping them trimmed short is so imperative. Many people are nervous to cut them by themselves and cut too short, but trust me… that’s better than leaving them too long!

Willow- Endless Mt. Labradors

Willow (Quill x Manny)

A dog’s nails are connected to their entire skeletal system.  When they get too long it cause them to walk improperly which can lead to pain and soreness, and eventually attribute to arthritis.  Furthermore, long nails can be accidentally broken while running or playing outside, and that can be very painful… especially if it breaks below the quick.

Outdoor exercise alone is usually not enough for most house pets to keep the nails at a short length.  So getting used to, and getting your dog used to, nail trimming is very important.  Starting out as a puppy is the best thing.  When you play with your pup, be sure to touch his/her feet often and touch the tips of their toenails.  This helps them become more comfortable with you handling their feet so that they will be still while you trim their nails.  Some use grinders, some use nail clippers.  Either or, it’s all about making it a comfortable experience for the dog so that you feel more comfortable doing it.

Where to trim the nail…

            When looking at your dog’s toenail, you’ll see that it comes straight out and then begins to curve down.  Right where it curves, is where you want to trim at a 45 degree angle.  If the nails are clear, like with most yellows, you can see the quick.  If you hit the quick, it can start to bleed.  Just keep a Styptic powder or gel, like Quick Stop, on hand to stop the bleeding.  Don’t let this stop you from trimming their nails, or they will pay the consequences…  The more often you trim the nails, the better.  Letting a dog’s nails grow out also allows the quick to grow out, so it’s that much harder to trim them back.

Deke- Endless Mt. Labradors

Deke (Jane x Scotch) getting his nails clipped 🙂

Sometimes it helps to have two people there so one can pet and distract the dog while the other clips the nails.  Having them lay right on their side, like Deke above, is typically an easy position.  While getting them used to this procedure, be sure to praise them and give them treats when you get the nail clippers out so that they see it as a pleasant experience! (And one that gets them cookies!! :-D)

A helpful video from Dr. Becker on trimming nails!


Click here for other tips on caring for your Labrador!


  1. excellent advice! and as long as I’ve been following it, I’ve never had a Labbie even blink at getting their toenails clipped….!

  2. I started my lab with her very first nail trimming using a dremel tool. Now when I get it out, she lays on the floor next to me and puts her paws out for me to trim. Afterwards she gets her well deserved treat. Start them young.

  3. If their nails get a bit to long, can you trim them a little more often to get the quick to move back or is there a better way to get them trimmed up to a proper length without cutting too many quicks? My chocolate has black nails of course, and I seem to get at least one of his and it just makes me cry when he yelps. My yellows nails are not to bad and she is almost white but half of her nails are light brown, Just enough that you can’t see the quicks, the rest are almost white and easy to cut. Please help! Thank You, Connie

    1. Hi Connie! Yes, the more often you trim the better, and the more the quick will move back. Little bits more often is better than having to cut a good length off every once in a while.

  4. I have a puppy that I have been trying to get use to it and he is just TERRIFIED. I am tried doing it while he sleeps, but he seems to wake. I have tried tying him up and doing it and he sqwarms and yelps and I get nothing done. He needs them cut and I don’t know what to do. HELP!!

    1. Work first on just getting him to let you play with his feet. Touch his feet gently and treat him when he lets you or relaxes. When they are that scared of it, it may take a while before he lets you cut the nails. Start slow and small. Touch the bottom of his feet. Touch his nails. Then treat him when the nail clippers are laying next to him, etc. Until you cut the nail. Treats, treats, and more treats. He’ll learn eventually that there’s something in it for him! 🙂

  5. I’ve tried a 1000 times, she just panics and runs off! She is scared to death!! We have tried holding her and that makes her worse. I’m about to give up.

    1. My Lab has massive anxiety over cutting his nails. He won’t even begin to let us touch his feet. The best way I have found is to take him to the vet and gives a mild sedative and it works just long enough to get his nails clipped.

Leave A Comment