Trimming Doberman Nails

Starting Early Brings Cooperation

The Doberman has black nails, making the cuticle inside more difficult to see and avoid with the nail clippers. This fact makes trimming a Doberman’s nails more difficult and often neglected. Also contributing to nail neglect is the common opposition many Dobermans display toward nail trimming. This opposition is almost always due to a bad experience when the cuticle was injured.

The key to proper Doberman nail maintenance is to start early with a proper technique that will provide a positive experience, and to trim the nails often, keeping them short.

For a Doberman puppy, nail trimming can start out as a game. Wait until the puppy has had some time to play and is starting to look sleepy and tired. Let him lay next to you. One at a time, softly but firmly grab a paw and trim off just the downward pointing tip of one nail, and give a food treat. Repeat this until all the nails are trimmed. This trimming can be done with a normal people toenail clipper for a young puppy.

Turning nail trimming into a game and awarding treats will make a positive experience for the puppy, who will associate this positive experience to nail trimming in the future. It is also helpful to prevent paw shyness by rubbing the puppy’s feet when he’s being snuggled or repeating the above described nail trimming game but with a nail file.

Older dogs need a different technique, especially if they have gone without a trim for a while. Good technique starts with good equipment, so get a quality nail trimmer especially made for large dogs. Also, in case a cuticle is stuck, you should always have some styptic blood stop powder on hand to stop bleeding.

If you do hit a cuticle, don’t react emotionally and don’t coddle your Doberman. This will only confirm his fear. Tell him he’s ok and continue, but with more care not to hit another cuticle. The last thing you want is to end a nail trimming session by freaking out along with your poor dog. The cuticle will heal quickly.

How to Trim the Nails

Start by trimming off the pointed tip of the nail. If you look at the now flat end of the nail, it should look solid inside and be one color. Now trim just a small amount off again, an amount equivalent to a thick sheet of paper, and reinspect the flat end.

Continue this trimming and inspecting until you start to see a circle appear within the solid material of the nail. This is the cuticle. If you can see it, your Doberman is probably starting to feel it so stop trimming and move on to the next nail.

When trimming the nails of a less than cooperative Doberman, it’s a good idea to have an assistant help control the Doberman while you concentrate on trimming. A squirmy Doberman will make an accident more likely, which will make the Doberman even more uncooperative.

Even with the most contrary Doberman, every successful trimming without injury is a step forward. Giving a reward after trimming is done is also helpful.