Trimming dog nails will probably be the furthest thing from your mind when you first bring home your new Golden Retriever.
However, since trimming dog nails will be something that needs to be done all of his life, do keep the following in mind, to make it easier on both you and him.
©Photo Courtesy of Denise Oechsler
While you are playing with, and getting to know your dog, make it a habit to touch him everywhere.
Play with and touch the top of his feet, the pads on his feet, his toes, and his nails. Get him use to your touch.
This is especially important if you bring home an older dog. Make it a habit to touch over all of his body, at all different times, not just when it is grooming time.
This will make trimming his nails, and his general grooming, much easier and less stressful on him.
Some people like trimming dog nails after giving a bath, as the nails tend to be a bit softer then.
There are basically two different types of nail trimmers.
The guillotine nail trimming style is designed for placing the dog nail through a metal hole and squeezing the handle to close the blade over the nail.
They come in several sizes and the blades can be replaced.
I have used this trimming style, but personally, found them to be awkward in positioning myself and my Golden Retriever, for correctly clipping dog nails.
Due to the awkward positioning, I was always nervous while trying to clip their nails, so of course, my dogs would then get nervous.
However, some people love this type of trimmer.
The pliers type nail trimmers are similar to scissors, in how you use them on your dog. I am more comfortable working with this type of trimming device.
As you can see from the picture, the blades have a semi-circle shaped groove in them, which is where you position the nail.
Then you simply close the handles on the trimmers, just as you would a pair of scissors.
These also come in different sizes. I have 3 different sizes, small for my puppies, medium for my mid-size Goldens, and the large size for my adult Goldens.
I also keep styptic powder on hand, just in case of accidentally trimming into the “quick” that causes bleeding.
©Photo Courtesy of Josh Heller
Styptic powder can be found at any pet supply outlet.
The quick is a blood vessel that carries blood supply into the nail, and it will bleed if cut into. This is temporarily painful for the dog, but nothing to panic about.
It will stop bleeding on its own, but the styptic powder combined with a bit of applied pressure on the nail from you, will help it to stop bleeding a bit faster.
How often nail trimming should be done will depend on what type of surface your dog spends most of his time on.
If he takes a lot of walks on cement surfaces, this will naturally help keep them worn down.
As for the process of trimming dog nails, I always clip just where the nail first starts to curve, as most Goldens have dark colored nails and you can not see where the quick is.
In light colored nails, you can see the quick and cut just below it, so you do not actually cut into it.
Remember to also clip the dew claws, as these do not touch ground to naturally be worn down, and they can grow until they curl around into your Golden’s leg.
If your dog’s nails have been allowed to grow too long, you will need to barely cut some of the nail about once a week.
This will cause the quick to slowly recede back. Once you get them at the proper length, then plan on trimming them about every 4 to 6 weeks.
Some people also use a dog file which is similar to a fingernail file, to smooth the nails after they have been trimmed.
Cuticle scissors are another handy tool to have in your grooming kit, as there are a few other things you should do while working on your Golden Retriever's paws.
A Golden Retriever’s fur can grow quite long at the end of his paws.
Use the cuticle scissors for trimming back this fur, so he doesn’t resemble “Mr. Grinch”!
You can also use these for trimming any excess fur that is sticking out around his pads on the bottom of his feet.
©Photo Courtesy of Becky Brown
I like these small scissors to work with, as it greatly lessens the risk of cutting into one of his pads.
If you do not clip his nails, his toes can “splay“. This makes him look as if all of his toes are separated, and can cause problems in his walking.
Regularly trimming dog nails will prevent this, and if his nails are already getting out of hand, slowly cutting them back will undo much of the damage.
Trimming dog nails will be a small part of your Golden’s grooming, and will keep him healthier, happier, and looking his finest!