Greyhound nails: if you clip them, they will grow.
The picture accompanying this article is a shot of my most recent foster’s nails, a mere four days after they had been clipped short – they are due for a touch-up already. It’s my good fortune that most retired racers will stand politely while I clip and file away, though not every dog will accept such indignities. Still, I can’t stress enough how important maintenance on a greyhound’s nails are, so I figured an article would do.
Greyhound feet can come in several different “varieties”, but the two most frequent are hare feet and cat feet. The AKC breed standard calls for a foot “rather more hare than cat” (1), and indeed hare feet are much more useful for a dog to have when turning and running (though of course it must be noted that cat feet are also just fine for this work). While there is no scientific evidence to say that greyhound nails seem to grow at a rate nigh impossible for their foster mothers to keep up with, it’s been my anecdotal experience that nails must be attended to on a weekly basis, else they simply grow too long.
While every dog benefits from, and indeed must have short nails, greyhounds are a breed where long nails spell disaster and huge vet bills. Due to the way their feet are built, and their breed function, a long nail left on a hound can quickly add up to broken toes, broken legs, sprained wrists, torn claws, and even death. Think about it: greyhounds achieve speeds of 40mph, and if a nail happens to catch just so… well, you can use your imagination.
“But Miss Wic!” you might protest. “My hound won’t let me trim his nails!”
If this is your situation, don’t fear – there are many resources to help you teach your greyhound to accept having his feet handled and his nails trimmed. While this process does typically take time and repetition, most hounds are very food motivated, so it should be a snap. If your hound is not food motivated, try different motivators to see what he likes best – toys, praise, petting are all valid motivators, and I have heard of some folks training in the backyard to use a short run as a reward. Remember to keep it positive!
Dr. Sophia Yin was a great source of scientific training, and the video below explains how counter conditioning works, particularly as it relates to nail trimming. Note that this sort of training works best with a partner, and does require some modification if you’re flying solo. As always, the inestimable Patricia McConnell comes through with how to do it if you’re alone – click here.
Now go forth friends, and get those greyhound nails did!