Why Do Dogs Have Black Nails? Symptoms And Treatments

Many new pet owners are taken aback when they realize their puppy’s nails are black and ask whether this is normal. Yes, unlike cats, who only have clear white nails, dogs may also have black nails.

Some dogs do have white nails (usual canines with white coats), and it’s typical to see dogs with both white and black nails. This article will look at why dogs have black nails and which breeds have this trait in common.

A change in nail color can be benign or indicate a health issue. 


Why Do Dogs Have Black Nails

 The most frequent reason for one nail going black is trauma. Most illnesses that cause nail color changes affect more than one nail. If a single nail is traumatized, it will just impact that nail.

Trauma may arise as a result of a variety of ordinary events. Slight damage to the nail might be caused by jumping onto a hard surface or playing with another dog. The blackening of a toe’s nail may also be caused by something falling on it. Allow the nail to heal on its own if the harm is negligible. A medical visit is recommended if your dog seems to be in discomfort. The nail may become red or black as a result of trauma. It’s similar to a bruise in that blood pools beneath the skin or under the nail.

Natural Pigmentation

Your dog may have a black nail due to natural pigmentation. They may have always had one black nail. It’s also possible that their pigmentation is changing, causing the nail to change color. Generally, dogs’ pigmentation gets lighter as they age, just like humans. However, a nail can turn black as your dog ages and pigments change. 


Your dog’s nails can get infected. Fungal, bacterial, and yeast infections are common causes of black nails. Fungal infections can cause your dog’s nails to turn white, brown, or black. Yeast infections typically turn the nail brown or red. The infection may only affect one or two nails if it’s caught early. If it’s allowed to progress, it can affect one or more paws.  Other symptoms of an infection include limping, swelling at the base of the nail, itching or pain, and excessive licking.

Detached Nail

A detached nail may also cause the blackening of the nail. This happens when a nail is partly removed but hasn’t entirely gone off. This may occur naturally, but it can also occur due to trauma.

If there is no blood or symptoms of discomfort, such as limping, the nail will most likely come out on its own. The nail may have been stuck on something if there are symptoms of blood or discomfort. This is more likely if your dog’s nails are long. Long nails may easily get tangled in a bed, blanket, or even the ground. When your dog moves its foot, the nail is pulled out of the nail bed.

Why are my dog’s nails turning black? 

Dogs Have Black Nails


Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid is underactive. The thyroid controls metabolism. When metabolism slows, it can cause many health issues. Lethargy, skin problems, hair loss, and weight gain are common symptoms. Dogs with hypothyroidism are prone to nail infections, which can cause the nail to turn black.

Due to Age

Just like humans, dogs’ hair can change color as they age. Their nails can change color as well. It’s more common for nails to become lighter with age, but it’s also possible to turn darker or black.


Your dog’s nails may appear red or brown due to allergies. This generally happens because dogs are allergic to anything in their surroundings, such as grass or dust. Allergies may also induce excessive licking, increasing your dog’s risk of nail infections.


 Nutritional deficiencies can also cause black nails. This is unlikely if your pet eats a balanced diet and doesn’t have autoimmune or digestive issues. 

Symptoms of nail discoloration in dogs

You may be able to detect and prevent nail discoloration in dogs by knowing its symptoms. The most common being:

Pain When Walking

When a dog’s feet or nails hurt, it adopts an unnatural posture and has trouble walking. The dog’s fold is usually inflamed, and the dog becomes hypersensitive to contact under the paws. So, if you see your dog strolling or posing strangely, it might indicate illness.

Rashes or Redness of Skin Tissue

 These symptoms surrounding a dog’s nails are almost always a sign of an underlying health issue. Neglecting it usually leads to other problems, such as nail discoloration.

Deformed Nail Plates

 It’s also a symptom that you’re infected. Depending on the intensity or type of infection, this can affect one or several nails.

Paw Licking

When a dog licks its paw excessively, it could indicate illness. When dogs are itching in an area, they will do this. Itching can also be a sign of a bacterial or fungal infection. The dog will scratch or gnaw the wall or floor with its paws in severe circumstances. Because their saliva includes bacteria-killing and pain-relieving components, dogs lick areas of their bodies to treat a wound. When the illness is systemic, like kidney or heart disease, excessive licking may cause more harm than help. A correctly fitted Elizabethan collar is a surefire technique to keep an infection from spreading through your dog’s paws.

Pus and Smelly Nails

A dog’s toenails might smell and produce pus in extreme cases of illness. Immediately take them to a veterinarian for a checkup. Because negligence can lead to more severe diseases such as pneumonia or bone problems, it is essential to act quickly.

Nail chewing is a sign that your dog has a hookworm infection caused by a nutrient shortage. A cracking nail is another sign of black toenails.


Itchy paws, biting, and licking of the feet are some of the indications of a fungal infection. Other signs and symptoms include brittle nails and discoloration of the nails. A dog’s nail fungus is relatively simple to diagnose. Your veterinarian will scrape the infected area and, if necessary, take a biopsy to examine it under a microscope. If it is discovered that the dog’s nails have a fungus, therapy will be given.


Antifungal treatment will be used. Any brittle nails that are loose must be removed. The treatment can then be administered, which may take several months. To avoid any setbacks, proper hygiene will be required.

You’ll also have to keep trimming your dog’s nails until the test results reflect negatively. Fungal cultures are the name of these tests. It’s a technique for detecting fungi in different parts of the body.

Antifungal creams or sprays may also be used as part of the treatment. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to learn how to perform this procedure correctly. To keep your dog from licking the medicine off his paws, an Elizabethan collar (cone) may be required.


Trimming your dog’s nails regularly is one way to prevent fungal infection-induced nail discoloration. You can also avoid injuries like a nail getting stuck in a carpet or someone stepping on your dog’s paws and breaking a nail. How do you know when your dog’s nails need to be trimmed? They’re too long if you hear them clicking on the floor. You can either take him to a groomer or do it yourself if you know what you do. Don’t forget about the dewclaw. You can avoid more serious health problems like bone, arthritis, and pneumonia by preventing fungal infections.

How do you cut a dog’s black nails?

 Make your dog comfortable.

Get your dog in a comfortable position (keep them busy with lots of treats) and hug him close to your body.

Get your dog’s body position right.

From behind the elbow, slightly extend the leg you’ll be working on (or knee depending on the portion).

Define the cutting edge and trim

It’s critical to cut below the skin’s surface! Begin by clipping one nail below the quick at a time, making tiny cuts, and inspecting the nail after each small trim. Always make your cuts parallel to the ground.

Avoid injuries

Be aware of your dog’s body language to avoid injury. Release them, give a treat, take a break, and praise them if they become too stressed or agitated. First and foremost, safety! Later on, pick up where you left off.


Why does my dog have some black nails and some white?
This is entirely typical, so don’t be concerned! Because of pigmentation in their nails, many dogs have a combination of black and white nails. It’s always good to get Archie checked out by a vet to be sure since there might be a medical explanation for the varied colored nails, such as a fungal infection.
Dog nail turned white? What to do?
Leukonychia is a condition in which your dog’s nails become white, or you see white lines in the nails. Leukonychia is a disorder that affects both dogs and people and is usually caused by a nail bed injury.
Are all puppies born with white nails?
This is very normal, so don’t be concerned! Pigmentation in the nails causes many dogs’ nails to blend black and white colors. Now, there might be a medical explanation for Archie’s discolored nails, like a fungal infection, so it’s always a good idea to get him checked out by a veterinarian to be sure.
What color should dog nails be?
When your nails are clear, they quickly look pink, and the nail that grows beyond it is white. The short is less visible when the nails are dark—a fun fact: if a dog’s paws are white, the nails are usually transparent. Toenails do not have any nerves beyond the quick. Hence they are less sensitive.

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