Trimming Nails on Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Africans used the Rhodesian Ridgeback dog to hunt lions not only because they grow to a similar size, but also because their nails were equally tough. To trim nails on such a dog today, rather than using pliers, grind them down with a power tool such as a Dremel.

Lift your dog onto a table with the help of a friend. Your friend needs to gently hold and soothe the animal, but he shouldn't try to restrain the dog unless it is absolutely necessary. The last thing you need is to be cutting the nails of a nervous 27-inch-high, 85-pound dog.

Put a few biscuits in a pile next to your dog and hold the Dremel close to his face. He will be momentarily interested in the power tool before turning to gobble up the biscuits. Once he has finished, put another few biscuits on the table and turn on the Dremel. This time his attention should be torn between eating biscuits and keeping a close eye on the tool. Repeat until he is more interested in the biscuit than the buzz of the Dremel.

Lift one of your dog's back paws gently and only as far as is needed.

Turn on the Dremel and begin to slowly grind down the curved portion of your Ridgeback's back paw nails. You should stop before you reach the dark circle you can see at the center of each one. This is a vein known as the quick, and if you nip it will release a little stream of blood. Of course accidents do happen; if you do cut it, you can stop the bleeding by dabbing on some styptic powder.

Cut the front paws the same way, but be conscious that your Ridgeback's nails are more sensitive at the front than at the back. It is best to trust your friend to control and soothe the animal while you keep your head down and finish the job.

Items you will need

  • Dremel with cylindrical sanding attachment
  • Dog biscuits
  • Styptic powder