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Discussion Starter #1
Quick question:

While dremeling Rocket's nails this morning, I suddenly wondered how short/long they should be, in terms of backpacking. Do they get in the 'way' or do they help a dog on tough mountain trails? We're leaving for our first backpack tomorrow. Should I have left them longer? Also, is it normal that his front feet seem always to have longer nails than his back?

Here they are, just a tad longer than I normally keep them (well, I did his left front first and they're a tad shorter).

 

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His nails look perfect. Long nails can actually be a detriment on mountain trails, as they can get caught on things and break or tear, leaving a bloody and painful mess. And yes, it's normal for the rear nails to be longer than the front--since active dogs are always "peeling out" from the rear, the back nails tend to wear down more.
 

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His nails are also probably longer than you think. I realized that when I started trimming the fur on Beau's pads. [Sure makes it easier to check there for ticks and to not worry about catching hair on the dremel] He is off trail in the woods a lot and I keep them so he does not "click" on the floor.

My dogs have always had longer nails on the front than the back.
 

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Cats have retractable claws. Dogs have nails.

As predators, they're different by design. Cats are stealth/ambush hunters and dogs are pursuit/endurance hunters.

That explains their different lifestyles and habits.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Cats have retractable claws. Dogs have nails.

As predators, they're different by design. Cats are stealth/ambush hunters and dogs are pursuit/endurance hunters.

That explains their different lifestyles and habits.

Sorry I don't follow you. Who said anything about claws or cats?


Nancy, i agree about the long fur on his toes and the Dremel LOL. I don't trim Rocket's feet or any of his fur, but I am very glad that he is not very "floofie".
 

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Yeah and Beau does NOT have fur on his PADS hahaha. He seems to have a good bit between his toes though even though he does not have a long coat or even a plush coat.
 

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Grip on flat surfaces are largely the pad just like you fingerprint provides friction. Claws are for softer terrain, or digging
 

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Grip on flat surfaces are largely the pad just like you fingerprint provides friction. Claws are for softer terrain, or digging
Dogs have nails for traction on the ground. It also helps with stability on uneven terrain. This is another difference with cats for whom claws help them to get up trees and above the ground.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Dogs have nails for traction on the ground. It also helps with stability on uneven terrain. This is another difference with cats for whom claws help them to get up trees and above the ground.
So you're saying you think longer is better for my application? What is your opinion on his length? He also runs on asphalt with me often.
 

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So you're saying you think longer is better for my application? What is your opinion on his length? He also runs on asphalt with me often.
My view? Trim them if it causes the dog visible discomfort. In the absence of that leave them alone. Messing around with a dog's paws can do more harm than good if you don't know what you're doing.
 

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Personally, I would keep them trimmed. The average dog is not outside moving around all day every day. A working dog may cover 50 miles in a day as might a wolf etc. If you look at a farm dog's feet they don't have much in the way of nails.

I keep mine that short or shorter and have not had trouble offtrail though we don't do serious mountain stuff but he does fine with steep river banks etc. I have seen far more problems with dogs when they are too long. Even dogs not showing discomfort from them being too long.

I think any dog owner should learn how to maintain their dogs paws. I am not sure what harm is going to come of dremeling a dog's nails. They let you know when you get close to the quick.
 

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My view? Trim them if it causes the dog visible discomfort. In the absence of that leave them alone. Messing around with a dog's paws can do more harm than good if you don't know what you're doing.
Getting a dog used to having his feet handled is very important. You never know when you might have to pull out a thorn or burr, treat a wound, or trim toenails, and if the dog is fighting you because he's not used to having his feet handled, it makes everything ten times harder. So my advice is exactly the opposite as the above quote. Play with your dog's feet early and often, rub his toes, get him comfortable with having his paws held, and trim his toenails whenever you get a chance. It's much better to take off a little at a time more often, than it is to let the nails get overly long and then worry about cutting the quick.

And to reiterate, short nails are better for hiking, climbing, and running. I can't think of anything that long nails are good for. Maybe ice?
 

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I'd keep them trimmed. I used to backpack with one of my dogs very frequently and he seemed to get more cut pads with longer nails. I think with shorter nails he 'felt' the ground better or something and didn't slap his paws down on the gravel/rocks/assorted trail-dwelling debris quite so hard.

Messing with a dog's paws is an excellent idea in my view. It's an important part of early socialization and desensitization and makes it so much easier to maintain their nails and deal with any injuries that may crop up in the course of the dog's life. I love using a dremel on nails; gets a smoother tip and you can get back farther to the quick without worrying about hitting it. The worst thing I've ever done with a Dremel was catch my own shirt sleeve in it. Oops!
 

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Keep them trimmed. All of my digs gave short nails. My FEMA USAR dig has to climb on rubble all the time. If he nails are too long they get in the way. She jumps, climbs, burrows with short nails.

A dogs nails are not meant to grip. In fact when evaluating a SAR prospect on agility, we want to see them splay their feet. Trying to grip with nails is bad.


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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks guys. I've always kept them on the short side, and we've hiked steadily and backpacked without issue (in fact, on boulder fields, it seems easier for him with short nails) but just suddenly wondered this morning about trails. This pack we will only gain about 2700' in elevation, so not too bad. Some though, we gain almost 5 thousand in less than 6 miles. :crazy:
 

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nails that are too long are more likely to get caught on something and broken off. Better to trim them. If you look at working dogs, as others have said, you will notice that they naturally have very short nails.
Think of it as trying to type with long fingernails. You can do it but it's really hard to do!! Too long and you really can't do much of anything
 
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