Nails left to grow unchecked can become a painful and disfiguring problem for the dog. Nails can grow so long that the foot becomes splayed and the digits twisted. Dew claws can grow completely around and back into the foot causing an abscess. Nails can splinter and become snagged in carpeting, tearing the nail below the quick. Visually inspecting and trimming the nails, without cutting into the quick, is yet another very important part of the maintenance grooming process.
Some groomers prefer to clip nails before the bath while others prefer working on nails after the bath as nails may be softer and easier to cut, especially on large dogs. White or light nails are generally easier to trim than black or dark nails, as the darkening of the quick line is easier to see on light nails. Close inspection of black or dark nails will usually show a faint line where the new growth is shinier than the old growth. Other evidence of the new growth is a more narrow extension of the nail. Note that these are general guidelines for determining where a dark nail can be safely trimmed. It is always safer to trim only a small amount of the nail at a time, on a regular basis, to avoid cutting into the quick.
Always have styptic powder within arms length. You should NEVER have to leave a dog with a bleeding nail to go find the styptic powder. If a nail is trimmed too short and begins to bleed, it is important to pack the nail with styptic and apply pressure to the nail to be sure the blood has stopped flowing and is sufficiently coagulated.
Special Notes* A dog's rear nails are generally shorter than the front nails due to the natural friction created as the dog walks. Keep this in mind when trimming the nails.
Some dogs, especially geriatric dogs or large breeds with hip dysplasia will appear to aggressively object to having their nails trimmed when in fact, it is the way in which they are being handled that they object to. It is important to be in tune with how you are trying to manipulate the dog's body in order to trim its nails. Lifting a rear leg up at the hip of a dog with dysplasia is extremely painful. Learn to work with the dog to get certain tasks accomplished. Instead of lifting the dog's leg, try bending at the waist or squatting to the required height to get the task completed.