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If you want to cut your BC’s nails yourself, rather than let a vet or groomer do the job, then you will need to know how long to trim them. So let’s get into it!

A standing Border Collie should have their nails right at the edge of their pad, approximately 2mm, or .08 inches, from the quick.

If their nails are touching the floor, or you can hear them clicking against a hard floor, then you should definitely trim.

Are Your Border Collie’s Nails Too Long?

According to the ASPCA, your dog’s nails are too long when they’re about to touch the ground.

If your BC is active and regularly gets outside for walks and runs, then they will likely require less maintenance as they can wear down.

It’s also important to check your BC’s dewclaws and ensure they haven’t grown too long, as well.

As dewclaws aren’t usually in contact with the ground, they are more prone to becoming too long, and so even if your BC is very active, it’s important to check these.

Why Trim Your Border Collie’s Nails?

Long nails that click against the ground can be uncomfortable for your BC. If left, they may alter the way they walk. By doing this, they can place more pressure on joints such as knees and hips, which can later become arthritic.

As with us humans, a dog’s nails will grow continuously, so it’s up to us to give them a trim.

Watch this Border Collie getting the nail grinder treatment:

Trimming Your Border Collie’s Nails

The earlier you do this process with your BC the better. It’s important that you spend time touching your Border Collie’s nails when they are young and treating them through this process. This will ensure they are happy for you to cut them as they get older.

We also have this post you may like to read if you have a puppy: How to Cut Your Puppy’s Nails: A Complete Guide.

If they are not used to having people touch their nails, and struggle against you through the process, we recommend using a professional.

But if you are going to cut your BC’s nails, then here’s what you will need:

Nail Clippers

There are three types of nail clippers for pets:

  • Guillotine style
  • Scissor style
  • Nail grinder

The AKC (American Kennel Club) recommends the scissor-style clippers for larger dogs with thicker nails and the guillotine-style for small and medium dogs.

Scissor Clippers

We recommend Dudi Dog Nail Clippers as they come with a file, and their reviews are very good. They are also very affordable.

Guillotine Clippers

We recommend Resco USA made clippers, as they’re pretty much the best guillotine-style clippers you can get.

Nail Grinder

The Casfuy Electric Grinder is an excellent choice of nail grinder and makes for an easy job!

How to Trim Your Border Collie’s Nails

First thing, stand next to your dog by placing them on a table. You can also have them in your lap, or roll them onto your side. The trick here is to ensure they are comfortable, and so are you!


  1. Hold their paw gently but firmly, and locate the nail that you’re going to cut.
  2. Hold the clippers at a right angle to the nail and squeeze firmly to cut. Do not cut the quick, which can be seen as the pinkish color inside the nail.
  3. If you’re using a guillotine-style clipper, then slide the nail in and squeeze firmly to cut.
  4. The desired length should be as close as you can get to the quick within 2mm.

where to cut
where not to cut

If Your BC Has Black or Dark Nails

If your Border Collie has black or dark nails, it can be challenging to see the quick and know how short to cut the nail.

It’s best to do several small cuts rather than one cut to the desired length, inspecting after each cut.

When you see light coloration or a pink area at the top of the nail, you’ll know you’ve reached the quick.

It’s best to stop short than to cut too far and risk cutting the quick!

If you do cut the quick, it will hurt your dog and most likely bleed. It shouldn’t last too long, however.

Final Thoughts

Trimming your Border Collie’s nails is part of being a responsible dog owner. And by doing it regularly, you will be ensuring their joint health into the future.

If your BC is a puppy, then make sure to give lots of praise and treats through the process, which will ensure they are happy to do the job with you!