How to cut and trim border collie nails

Cutting Your Border Collies Nails (Quick Guide)

When it comes to owning a Border Collie, good nail care is surprisingly important. Trimmed nails ensure that your pooch is walking comfortably and on their feet properly. You see when nails get too long, they can cause a dog to lean back in their paaws, and this in turn puts a lot of pressure on the rest of their joints (and we don’t want that). In this guide, we outline how to cut your Border Collies’ nails, and how to get puppies used to getting their nails cut. 

While many dogs may manage to wear down their nails without any intervention, it is still important to always check them regularly and see if they need a helping hand, since they cannot tell us when something is uncomfortable in words! 

Getting Your Border Collie Used To Nail Cutting

The first step in trimming your Border Collies’ nails, is to simply get them used to the sensation. 

If you are starting with your Border Collie from a puppy, then the easiest ways to do this is to simply go through the motions regularly, whether you need to trim their nails or not. This is not to say that you should trim your pups claws unnecessarily, but you can go through the steps taken often.

So every couple of days, bring out the nail clippers, get your puppy used to the sight and sound of them. If they are interested and want to sniff then let them! The goal is to show your Border Collie that this strange device is nothing to be afraid of. 

Alongside this, you can also touch your puppy’s paws regularly, lift them up as you would if you were trimming them. Pull them about slightly (being gentle of course!). 

This exercise just gets your puppy accustomed to having their feet touched. The last thing you want is them growing up and hating people touching their feet when their nails need a trim!

The third part of this process is combining the two. Bring the clippers close to your Border Collies’ paws. If their nails need a trim then it is okay to do so, but it is best not to cut them too short or you risk hitting the quick! 

If your puppy is not in need of a nail trim then simply ‘pretending’ to will help get them used to the sensation still.

And the most important thing in all of this is plenty of treats! Whether your Collie pup is food orientated, or has a favorite toy, use this to reward them everytime they stay calm and relaxed during a nail trimming session. We really like stickable lick-mats for this as it’s a great hand’s free way of giving treat time, but keeping them in one place! These are also great when bathing your Border Collie!

This helps them associate nail cutting with fun things, and will help promote calm behaviour in the future.

If you are trying to get an older Border Collie used to having their nails trimmed then you can also follow these same steps. But bare in mind you will likely need to take things slower. Always work at your dogs pace, and remember the high value rewards!

If you find your Border Collie gets nervous and starts to nip or bite during these sessions then it is okay to use a muzzle. Just be sure that this will not stress your friend out even more, we want to turn nail cutting into a positive experience!

The younger you can start this training, the easier it will be to achieve relaxed and easy nail trimming sessions, but sometimes our dogs come to us at an older age and we may not have that luxury. 

That is totally okay, just be patient and work with your Border Collie, they are smart dogs that love to learn, so it should not take too long for them to realise that having their nails cut can be fun (well almost).

On a personal level, when we adopted our rescue Border Collie Izzy, we had to gain her trust when it came to cutting her nails. It took a while – something like two or three months of trying – but it really is worth it. Not only did it help us with the practical aspect of trimming her nails, but it also helped to develop our bond even further. 

Equipment You Need To Trim Your Border Collie’s Nails

There are two main types of nail trimmers used. One is a guillotine type, and the others a scissor type. 

Guillotine cutters are probably the most common type of nail trimmer you see. They consist of a metal ring, and a blade which moves across the opening of the ring as you press the clippers together. Guillotine cutters are typically enough to cut all of your dog’s nails, as long as they are not too overgrown.

The scissor type has two blades that come together when you squeeze the handles, as a pair of scissors would. These are typically used for overgrown nails that the guillotine cutters are unable to trim, this is because they are able to open up and go around the outside of the nail whereas guillotine trimmers require the nail to go through the ring.

Personally, we prefer guillotine gutters as models like these ones from Amazon have built-in safety features that help prevent injury. 

While it may not qualify as equipment, having a high-value reward on hand while you trim your Border Collies nails could definitely make it a better experience for all involved! Whether it is a food treat, or giving them their favorite toy to chomp down on before you start, keeping your Collie relaxed during nail trims will help make the process easier and faster.

How do you find the quick in Border Collie Nails?

How to find the quick for border collie nails

When it comes to trimming your Border Collies nails, the most important thing to remember is not to cut the quick! The quick is the accumulation of nerves and blood vessels that lead to your pups claws. Basically, it looks like a dark shadow that runs halfway or so up the nail. If you catch this it can be quite painful for your pup, and it may also bleed a lot. 

It is easier to find the quick if your Border Collie has white or lighter nails, as it will be a solid mass in the centre. If you have clear visibility of the quick, then it’s normally quite easy to cut the nail in one step without much risk of hitting the quick.

If your Border Collie has dark or black nails then you may struggle to find the quick. A really easy way to tell where it is though is to shine a torch (flashlight) through your dog’s nail. You’ll see a shadow created by the quick, and this will let you know how far into the nail you can cut. 

Even with the torch trick, for black nails it is always best to trim the nail a tiny bit at a time to avoid any accidents. As you trim the tip back you will begin to see a pink/lighter mass in your dog’s nail, once you see this stop cutting! That is the quick. 

Generally, you should make sure to cut your dog’s nails so that there is a space of at least 2-3 mm of space (1/8 inch) between the quick and the end of the nail. 

What to do if you cut your Border Collies’ quick

It is very likely that at some point during your Border Collies life, you will accidentally cut the quick. If this does happen, stay calm and do not panic! 

If your Collie sees you panic, it can raise their stress levels and make them anxious during future nail trimming sessions. 

Should you trim too close to the quick, the best thing to do is dip your Border Collies nail in styptic powder, this is what vets and groomers use when this happens to them. (If you don’t have any you can also use cornstarch or flour). Generally, just make sure that you stem the bleeding. Normally, it clots quite quickly; however, if in doubt, always speak to a vet. 

Full disclosure – we’ve done this once or twice in our lives. It’s normally not very pleasant, as you feel a bit guilty! That said, it’s never really traumatised our pups! 

If your Collie gets a bit freaked out and doesn’t want the rest of their nails cut, well then that’s fine. Don’t try and force them, but do end the session on a positive note – give them fuss and treats while handling their paws still. 

How to actually cut your Border Collies nails 

Now we have covered what to do in case you hit the quick, let’s take a look at how to trim your Border Collies claws.

  • Step One: You want to firmly take your Border Collies paw. A firm but gentle grip on your dog’s paw is essential to ensure they do not wiggle while you are cutting their nail! (If you have someone home who can help you then it may be a good idea, an extra set of hands will go a long way in keeping your pup calm and steady).
  • Step Two: Now you want to find the quick, as we have already spoken about, you want to avoid cutting this. A good rule of thumb is you want to cut the nail about 2mm away from the quick. If you are using guillotine cutters, then you want to keep the blade facing away from the quick to avoid cutting too close. 
  • Step Three: Take the plunge and cut your Border Collies nail! If you are uncomfortable with doing it in one cut (especially with dark nails) then take your time with several smaller cuts. Just be wary, the click/snap sound from the cutters may startle your Border Collie and cause them to squirm, give them a treat and some fuss before moving onto the next nail!
  • Step Five: This is the best step. Now your Border Collie has survived the ordeal of nail cutting, it is time to shower them with lots of fuss and treats! Show them that it can be a fun and positive experience, to help them feel calmer when you have to cut their nails again.

If this is your very first dog or you just don’t feel very confident in trimming your Border Collies nails, feel free to ask your vet during a checkup! They will be more than happy to teach you the easiest ways to trim your pup’s nails.

And there you have it! Trimming your Border Collies nails is as simple as that, as long as you are patient and take your time getting your dog used to the sensation and equipment (and offer lots of rewards for good behaviour). 

For many dog owners, learning how to trim a dog nails is one of the most stressful aspects of dog care, but it really does not have to be. Especially when you own a dog as intelligent as a Border Collie! 

With just a little bit of patience and high-value rewards, your Border Collie will soon learn that nail trims can be almost as great as a game of fetch! 

Interested in learning more about caring for your Border Collie? We have an article about how to clean and take care of your Border Collie’s teeth that you might be interested in. 

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