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How to trim your greyhound’s nails

Sky

Sky

Chief Editor

Sky

Sky

Chief Editor

Nail trimming is a crucial part of caring for your greyhound. The length and state of your greyhound's nails have an immediate impact on their wellbeing. We tell you how to properly trim your greyhound's nails and what resources you can consult along the way.

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When are your greyhound’s nails too long?

Click, clack, click, clack – does it sound like that when your greyhound is out for a walk? A loud clacking noise is an indicator that your greyhound’s nails are too long and you need to trim them. Double-check the length of your greyhound’s nails by making them stand still and looking at their paws from ground-level. Do your greyhound’s nails touch the floor? If yes, they are definitely overdue for a trim.

Why it’s important to keep your greyhound’s nails off the floor

Your dog’s nails shouldn’t touch the ground when standing still as this puts pressure on the pads and the bones in the foot. Over the course of time, this can lead to serious posture problems throughout your greyhound’s body as it will have to deal with the imbalance of not having proper footing. Other than that, you risk nail, toe and foot related injuries when your greyhound zoomies around with nails that are too long. And let me tell you: These kinds of injuries tend to take a long time to heal. A time with no zoomies, no long walks, but lots of resting. This won’t make your greyhound happy long-term. So, keep up to date with nail spa time!

How often do you need to trim your greyhound’s nails?

This depends on how fast your greyhound’s nails grow and how long their quick currently is. If your dog’s nails are at a proper length after a clip – which means, your greyhound’s nails just clear the floor when the dog is standing – you probably will have to clip them once or twice a month. If you see that they still touch the floor after a trim, you will have to work on a receding quick first. In order to achieve that, you should trim your greyhound’s nails every couple of days (at least once a week) until you see progress. Once the quick has receded, you can switch to a more relaxed schedule.

When is the best time to give your dog a pedicure?

I like to start Sky’s pedi-pedi treatment after a walk, when he’s relaxed and a little tired. Usually, he will just lie down and cozy up in one of his (seven, lol) beds and snooze away. This makes for a laid-back atmosphere and for a very compliant dog.

What tools to use to trim your greyhound’s nails

There are a couple of different options out there when it comes to dog nail care tools. Either you can opt for a combination of the classic canine nail clipper and a nail file or you can go with an electric Dremel.

This is what I use for Sky’s Pedi-Pedi:

Paw Balm

Dog Nail Clippers

Nail File

Flashlight

Socks

How to see the quick in a dog's nail

I highly recommend using a flashlight to get a clear visual of where the quick ends. This way you have a clear indication on how much nail you can safely take off.

When shining a flashlight from behind against a nail, you will see a rose/darker part within your dog’s nail. This is the quick: the blood vessel within the horn of the nail. 

Choosing the right cut to trim greyhound nails

Using the nail clippers, I like to combine the traditional cut with the alternative cut line. Basically, you’re taking off nail around the quick and not just the front tip of the nail. This helps the quick to recede and stay in check. Here is an illustration to better convey what I’m trying to say.

Traditional and Alternative Cut trim greyhound nails

Whether you use clippers or a Dremel: Only ever take off small shavings one bit at a time. You don’t want to nick the quick or get close to the nerve endings as this will hurt your dog. Just take your time and praise your greyhound for good behaviour along the way. This can include encouraging words, pats, or the occasional treat. Just keep in mind to keep the situation calm and relaxing, as opposed to exciting. As for yourself, I find it helps a lot if you approach nail trimming with a healthy self-confidence and a casual manner. Be loving, yet assertive with how you handle the nail trimming session. Greyhounds are very sensitive and might feel if you’re nervous or hesitant about the situation which in turn may cause them to become jittery and anxious.

When using clippers, you will have to follow up with a nail file to get close enough to the quick to encourage recession.

When using a Dremel, keep in mind to only touch the nail for 1-2 seconds max at a time as the friction generates a lot of heat and you don’t want to burn your dog.

Need a visual?

Shout out to Natalie Powell! Check out her video on how she trims her greyhound Olive’s nails with a Dremel!

When to stop filing

Once you get past the chalky part to where the pulpy bit starts to appear – this is where you must stop. This indicates that the quick comes up underneath. If you keep filing, you will nick the blood vessel which will cause the nail to bleed profusely. Sometimes, it happens to the best of us! In case you are faced with a bloody tragedy like this, press the affected nail gently into a bowl of corn starch. This will help the blood to coagulate. Once the blood stream has been calmed, clean the digit gently with a wet cloth and disinfect it.

If your greyhound’s nails still touch the floor after this trim, the nails are technically still too long. This means that too much time has passed since the last trim, which allowed the quick to grow out further. What you want to do in this situation is wait for a couple of days, up to 1 week and then trim again gently. By continuously trimming a little bit of each nail, the quick will recede over the course of a couple of weeks or months, up to a point where your greyhound’s nails won’t be touching the floor anymore when standing still. From then on, you can reduce the trimming interval to every 2 weeks or longer.

Turning nail clipping into doggo spa time

If you’re a crazy dog lady like me, and like to take things to the next level, you might enjoy using the occasion of nail clipping to combine it with a proper pamper session for your greyhound. I like to apply paw balm on all pads and toes and simultaneously check every digit for minor injuries, lodged debris (like tiny stones) or potential corns. This helps you stay up do date with your greyhound’s health and not let minor cuts get overlooked and potentially infected.

Why the socks you ask? Paw balm tends to be pretty oily. To prevent our greyhound from slipping on our floor, I got him some anti-slip socks for extra grip. It also stops him from licking the apparently delicious paw balm right off his feet again!

Why other dog owners might think your greyhound’s nails are still too long

Generally speaking, there are two main types of dog feet out there. One is the ‘cat foot’ type, the other one the so called ‘hare foot’.

The majority of dog breeds, at least where we live, sport a ‘cat foot’ shaped paw. This foot shape is rather compact and leaves a cat-like imprint when walking in snow. Common breeds with cat feet are the Doberman, Great Dane, or Viszla. In the image below, you might notice that their toes are rather short and the nails are located a tad higher up on the paw.

In contrast, the hare-like dog foot sports elongated digits. Nails on this type of foot can grow longer before they emit a clicking noise when walking because of their physiological structure. A classic representative of the ‘hare foot’ is – you guessed it – the greyhound!

greyhound foot structure is hare foot

“One foot type found in dogs is the “hare-like foot” which tends to have a long third digital bone. Breeds that have quick bursts of speed or bounding gait should have this kind of foot, and the best example of this is the Greyhound. Her semi-hare-like feet give her maximum leverage, and because they are well knuckled and compact, she gets better traction and requires less energy to lift them as she runs. As her weight shifts forward, the ball of her foot becomes a fulcrum and her pasterns (knees) and toes become a lever while thickly padded paws act as shock absorbers – – – and it all starts with her feet.”

https://nationalpurebreddogday.com/hare-foot/

What to do if your greyhound is scared of getting its nails trimmed

Some dogs might have been nicked in the past which cause them to be afraid of nail trimming sessions. Others act nervous when they hear a Dremel for the first time. It is always advisable to first find out the source of the stress to then start conditioning your dog in a positive manner. There is an abundance of helpful resources that I’ve encountered along the way, that can help directly with this challenge. The most concise and helpful resource I could find to date is this Facebook group:

Not only do they supply you with a plethora of nail and foot theory, but they also offer hundreds of videos on how to condition your dog to accept nail trimming. In addition, you will find manuals on how to build a scratchboard for your greyhound’s nail care, as an alternative to manual nail trimming. This is especially helpful for very skittish dogs that are too scared to have their nails trimmed the traditional way.

Always end the nail trimming session on a positive note

If that means you can only get one nail done at first, so be it. Praise your greyhound and let it rest. You can always follow up with the next digit an hour or two later.

Who Dis?

Who Dis?

I'm Sky, the host and Chief Editor of HoundToday! I want to let the people know that us ex racing greyhounds make fabulous pets! Many of us are looking for the perfect forever-home to transition to after our time on the racetrack is over. My hoomans are helping me spread the message by providing information about diet, training, health, and the adoption process.

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