How to Find the Quick on Black Dog Nails

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How to Find the Quick on Black Dog Nails

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There’s no escaping nail trimming if you are a pet parent (or any other parent for that matter). As long as your pup is happy and healthy, his nails will grow out and will need to be trimmed from time to time.

But this part of grooming requires a high level of attention to detail and focus lest you hurt your dog in the process. In particular, if you have a dog with black nails, locating the quick can be a real challenge.

In this guide, we take you through the tips of finding the quick on black dog nails.

What Is a Quick?

Before we get to the meat of the topic, let’s find out what the term “quick” means.

Essentially, this is a blood vessel that offers nourishment to the nail. It bears a different color from the actual nail and is also the closest to the pup’s foot.

In most cases, the quick take on a pink color on white nails. In other dogs, however, both the nail and the quick bear a black color. This is where trimming becomes difficult.

If you accidentally trim the quick, you will not only hurt your adorable dog, but the cut might also cause a bad bleed.

It is also important to know that the quick grows with the nail. If you wait too long before trimming, you will not have much nail to trim before reaching the quick.

Lucky for you, the blood vessel can grow back depending on the length of the nail.

So, How Do You Find the Quick on Black Dog Nails

Now that the quick definition is out of the way, how do you find or recognize the quick on a black dog nails?

First things first, finding the quick on white dog nails is pretty straightforward. The quick will appear pink while the actual nail of the dog will appear white. This means that you will easily see the quick through the shell.

However, if your dog has black nails, the quick will also be black (not pink!). Consequently, you won’t be able to see the quick through the shell or from outside your pup’s nail.

The Solution?  

Find the Pulp

One of the very basic yet most important tricks when it comes to finding the quick on black dog nails is to find the pulp.

In simple terms, the pulp is a dark circular (but easily identifiable) part of the nail. It is just next to the quick.

So, if you were clipping your dog’s black nails and you reach the pulp, you should stop because you are almost touching the quick.

But how do you know that you’ve reached or found the pulp?

Well, let’s assume that you were trimming your pup’s nails:

  • With the first few trims, you will be met by a while cut surface. Take a step back and examine the nail.
  • If it is still whitish, clip one more.
  • Repeat until you see a black spout at the center of the nail. That’s the pulp.
  • Another simple way of finding the pulp is to look underside of your dog’s nail. You will notice a groove where the hard nail structure of your pup turns to a fleshy or softer inner tissue. The fleshy or soft tissue on the inside of the nail is the pulp.

Next Up: Locating the Quick…

  • Now, to find the quick, lift the pup’s paw and take a look at the center of the nail.
  • If it has a small dark spot at the center, that indicates the start of quick.
  •  Once you spot it, stop cutting because it means you are near the quick.
  • Another important trick of trade when it comes to locating the quick is to squeeze or apply gentle pressure on your pup’s nail—particularly the section you plan to cut next. Be careful not to apply a lot of pressure or squeeze too much lest you splinter the nail down to the quick. If the dog reacts to the pressure by yanking his paws away, most likely you are very close to the quick and you should stop.

Important Tips to Remember When Locating the Quick On Black Dog Nails

1. Use The Right Tool

This sounds like a broken record but the kind of tool used can make or break your efforts regarding finding the quick.

If you use an old rugged blade, you might not get a good cross-section of the nail. Ultimately, this will impair your visibility and throw you into confusion as to whether you’ve cut enough or not.

Even with the right equipment, you need to deliver a powerful and forceful cut especially if your pup has hard nails.

When you go too slowly during the actual clipping, you might get a rough cut rather than a smooth one.

To be safe, use a sharp blade and try to get a smooth and clean finish so that you can have a good cross-section and thus locate the quick better.

Plus, cutting quickly gets the job done fast so that your dog doesn’t get too nervous.

We highly recommend nail clippers with LED light. They allow you to locate the quick fast and ultimately prevent accidents during the process. Here are the best options: 10 Best Dog Nail Clippers with Light

2. Go Slow

While making the actual cut should be done fast and powerfully, you don’t want to rush the whole process. You risk cutting the quick if you trim with a high speed.

You want to trim a tiny part of the nail at a time. The recommended length is 1/6th inches.

As aforementioned, after one trim, take a look at the cut surface. If it is white, you are safe.

Go ahead and trim some more until black appears at the center of the nail.

Sometimes it gets pink just before the quick. The idea is to trim very small bits and put your tool down as you arrive at the black or pink spot.

3. Arm Yourself With Styptic Powder

In case you nip the quick, expect some bleeding. This is where a styptic powder comes in. Sprinkle a generous amount on the cut to stop bleeding.

If you don’t have the powder on hand, use flour, bar soap, baking soda, corn starch or turmeric powder.

All these will plug the vessel and stop bleeding pretty fast.

4. Aim For A Comfortable Experience

A nervous dog makes nail trimming ten times challenging. That means finding the pulp is a million times harder. To avoid this:

  • Begin by familiarizing your pup with the cutting tool. Make him feel comfortable around the clippers or guillotine.
  • Ensure that the room is free of any distraction and makes your canine friend comfortable.
  • Offer treats and tons of praise when he jumps a hurdle.

During trimming, try all you can to ensure that your dog is relaxed throughout the exercise. This way, you will have ample time trimming and ultimately locating the quick.

5. It is recommended to clip the nails up to the pulp

By cutting the nails all the way to the pulp, you encourage the quick to recede. This is a good thing as it averts the issue of overgrown nails and generally keeps the dog healthy.

You should note that the quick always grow out along with your pup’s nails. So, if the nails are left to grow too long, you may be forced to trim only a small amount and then be forced to wait for about a week for the quick to recede before you can clip more.

6. Remember to trim the hair around the paws

In case your dog has grown a lot of hair around his paws, consider trimming the hair so that you can have a better view of the nail.

Final Thoughts

Trimming a black dog’s nails is truly a nerve-wracking experience. The fear of trimming the quick is always a constant.

To be frank, you might actually nip the quick and cause tremendous pain to your dog once or twice.

Hopefully, you now have an idea of how to find the quick on black dog nails.

But in the unfortunate event that you nip the quick or clip the nails too short, don’t panic. Just apply a generous amount of Styptic powder to stop the bleeding and hope for a better future.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3

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Sable M. is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.