Why Are Dog Nails So Sharp?


The reason a dog’s nails are so sharp is that they were developed by nature to be as sharp as they possibly can be for functionality.

So when you look at a dog’s nail (not the dewclaw, which is a modified toe), you see a continuation of the same bone structure that goes up to the dog’s wrist, called the radius and ulna. 

The ends of these bones (which we see as nails) are covered by hard keratin to protect them from getting worn or damaged.

This covering also makes it easier for the dog to use them for balance, digging, fast running, or even climbing trees.

What are the dangers of sharp dog nails?

Sharp nails on a dog can be dangerous for many reasons. The most obvious danger is that they can easily scratch or prick you.

Just imagine if your fingernails were as sharp as a knife and imagine how easy it would be to slice through something soft like skin.

Dog’s nails also have the same purpose as human fingernails – to protect their fingertips from getting injured.

However, unlike us humans who wear gloves or socks to protect our hands, nature has given dogs a method of defense in their nails. Dogs use these sharp retractable claws for several purposes, including climbing trees, digging them into soft soil and dirt, etc. 

Furthermore, if your dog’s nails are too long, it will be more difficult for him to walk or run comfortably.

As you may already know, an uncomfortable walk or run is not what dogs want, so he will most likely try to stop walking and run frequently in a vain attempt to get his claws retracted into the paw pad.

Some pet owners choose to keep their dogs’ nails shorter all the time, but this isn’t necessary if you take care of them at home consistently.

As long as you are trimming your dog’s nails once a month or so, they should stay at a comfortable length and not get in your way too often.

Can a dog scratch be dangerous?

Yes, to the dog.

Dogs with sharp nails are more likely to cause themselves injury, such as a cut or scratch while playing or running around.

Sharp nails can also lead to pain in dogs if they have arthritis and start to extend their claws when walking on hard surfaces (such as sidewalks).

In extreme cases, loose nails may be sharp enough to cut through a dog’s paw pad—in some cases causing them to bleed.

How do I stop my dog’s nails from being sharp?

There’s a very easy way to solve this problem—file your dog’s nails!

The best tool for the job is a nail grinder. It consists of three parts:

  • A file part, which removes the sharp edges and smoothens out your dog’s nails.
  • An adjustable sander part, which allows you to adjust how deep you want to grind your dog’s nails.
  • A buffer part, which will enable you to smooth out any rough edges after grinding.

Another option is to find a grooming shop in your area that offers dog nail grinding services. But, again, letting a professional groomer handle this chore will save you time and get the job done right.

What you need to know before grinding your dog’s nails at home

If your dog does not enjoy having their nails ground, then it may be a better idea to have a professional groomer handle this part of grooming for you at a pet shop.

On the other hand, if your dog tolerates nail grinding well, then read on to find out what you need to know before doing so.

1. Make sure you have the right equipment before you start grinding your dog’s nails. Having the wrong-sized nail grinder or buffer can result in pain to your pet and can take more time than you would like to grind a single nail (if that doesn’t sound too bad, imagine filing each of your fingernails for 10 minutes).

2. Prepare your dog’s nails before you start grinding them. If possible, soak them in warm water for 5-10 minutes to soften the nail and make it easier to file. When filing your dog’s nails (and any other part of their body), remember that he should be relaxed and ready for his nails to be handled.

3. Brush and dry your dog’s nails before starting the grinding process. This will help you avoid hurting him while working on his nails and making it easier to remove any dirt or fur stuck between his claws after filing.

4. Grinding your dog’s nails should not take longer than 2 or 3 minutes per nail. This will ensure that you are not spending too much time on a single nail and end up causing your dog unnecessary anxiety or pain.

5. Be sure to remove all loose hairs, dirt, etc., from between your dog’s claws before sanding the nail down (this is an extra step but may be very helpful in avoiding a bad nail grooming experience).

6. Always use a gentle touch and be sure to stop the grinding process if your dog starts to show signs of pain or discomfort (such as licking his paw, shaking his leg, etc.).

How often should I grind my dog’s nails?

This depends on how sharp they are and how active your dog is.

For most dogs, their nails will need to be ground about once or twice a month.

However, the first time you do, it may be a bit longer because of the rough edges left behind after grinding for the first time.

Therefore, you want to make sure you grind them until there is no more edge before moving on to the next step.

Is it better for an amateur to cut or grind dog nails?

In most cases, no.

Professional groomers have the experience necessary to cut and grind dog nails with minimal risk of injury.

For a person who has no experience with the anatomy of a dog’s foot, it is better to let them handle this for the first few times until you get the hang of it.

Grinding dog nails can be quite a challenge for an amateur, and it will take some time to figure out if you are doing this right.

It’s best to start with the slowest grind setting and gradually work your way up if you aren’t satisfied until your dog’s nails are a length that suits you.

How can I make puppy nails less sharp?

Having a playful puppy with sharp nails can be challenging to deal with. In most cases, this is because puppies tend to chew on their paws.

The subsequent nail growth results in a sharpened end. To deal with this, remember that you need to trim your dog’s nails every two to three weeks.

If your puppy isn’t used to having its paws handled, then a good first step is to get the dog used to this process by gently rubbing its paws and surrounding tissue.

The sooner you start handling their paws, the easier it will be in the future with grown dogs.

What breeds are more likely to have sharp nails?

The Pug and the Pekingese are two breeds with naturally sharp nails.

Because nail sharpness is directly correlated to digging activity, breeds prone to digging can also be included.

These would include Jack Russell Terriers, Siberian Huskies, Dachshunds, etc.

Can dog nails be filed?

Yes, a dog’s nails can be filed.

Although you want to be careful not to file too far up on the nail, it is also a good idea to file all of your dog’s nails so that they are even and as symmetrical as possible.

This way, they will wear down more evenly when running on smooth surfaces.

What are the dangers of cutting dog nails too short?

Cutting a dog’s nails too short can cause injury to them in the following ways:

A dog’s nail may be cut too short, which can lead to bleeding.

A dog’s nails will rarely cause discomfort or pain if they are a normal length and have not been filed down, but cutting them too short on purpose could cause enough of space for an injury to happen. 

Some dogs get infections very quickly, and cutting a nail too short could increase the risk of getting an infection.

Cutting nails too short is especially risky for dogs with white or light-colored claws, as it would be more evident if this were done incorrectly. 

The pain may cause the dog to react negatively to you, such as biting out of fear (if they are generally not aggressive). 

If the dog has a thick coat of fur where the fur is brushed on top of its paws, then it can be tough to see exactly how short you are cutting your dog’s nails.

This could lead to them being cut too short, without you noticing until much later.

A professional groomer will have experience cutting a dog’s nails and know how to do it safely without causing injury.

Closing thoughts

When it comes to dealing with your dog’s nails, be sure to consider the following things:

Professional groomers have years of experience cutting dogs’ nails and will know how to do it correctly.

When you first try doing it yourself, make sure that you have watched a professional and learned the proper techniques from them.

Then, start off slowly until you get the hang of it.