How To Trim Golden Retriever Paws

Updated June 5, 2023

Professional dog grooming is costly, so you may benefit from knowing how to trim golden retriever paws at home.

Paw trimming is an integral part of the golden retriever grooming process, but many owners are intimidated to do it.

Remember that grooming is more than keeping your dog pretty. Trimming excess fur from paws is about hygiene and health.

Dog feet, particularly the paws, are extra-sensitive, and owners are often afraid to hurt their dogs. However, the technique is pretty simple, and everyone can learn to do it.

The trickiest part is to get a dog accustomed to grooming. Start trimming your dog’s paws as early as possible and reward it for good behavior to encourage it to be patient.

Is Trimming Golden Retriever Paws Really Necessary?

Many owners wonder – why trim golden retriever paws? Technically, a golden retriever can live fine without fur trimming. However, grooming your dog’s paws has several benefits.

Firstly, it helps keep your dog’s feet clean, preventing them from collecting dust and debris. Consequently, your house will also be cleaner since your dog won’t walk on the carpet or jump on the couch with dirty feet.

Secondly, golden retrievers with hairy paws may slip on tiled and hardwood floors. Imagine running on slippery floors in wool socks – that sounds like a recipe for injury.

Thirdly, trimmed golden retriever paws look neater. Of course, that’s a matter of preference, and some owners like the look of natural golden retrievers’ “Grinch feet,” but judges at dog shows favor neatly trimmed paws.

Lastly, long fur tends to tangle, forming knots and mats. A mat between a dog’s toes is dangerous because it can cause the toes to splay, causing pain and hindering the dog’s gait.

If a dog can’t step on its paw, it may develop joint issues. So, trimming your golden retriever’s paws is not mandatory but helps prevent health issues and keep your home clean.

How Often To Trim Golden Retriever Paws

How often to trim a golden retriever’s paws depends on its lifestyle, living environment, and hair growth speed.

If you have non-slippery floors and your dog spends most of its time running in the backyard, trimming doesn’t have to be frequent.

Trimming your dog’s paws every three to five weeks should be sufficient to prevent mat formation and keep the feet neat.

However, if you have slippery floors or your dog regularly walks on wild terrain and gets dirty, you may need to trim its paws every two weeks.

The climate also plays a role – golden retrievers living in a cold environment need hairy paws for climate control and require less frequent grooming than goldens living in a warm climate.

Choosing The Tools

Dog grooming quality largely depends on the tools used. You will need clippers, a fine-tooth comb, curved scissors, and a soft-bristled brush to do a good grooming job. You can find these tools in local pet stores or online.

You don’t need to get professional, expensive clippers for paw trimming, but if you also plan to trim your golden retriever’s tail and leg feathers, investing in higher-quality tools may be worth it.

Opt for clippers with multiple attachments because golden retrievers have dense fur, and you can adjust your grooming routine to the seasons.

If your dog isn’t particularly patient and refuses to sit still, you may find cordless clippers more convenient.

Generally, experts recommend using long-bladed scissors for golden retrievers, but since paws are a small surface, get a pair of short-bladed curved scissors.

The shortest length is four inches – it’s perfect for trimming fur on paws and ears.

Such scissors will help you make a smoother foot curve. However, straight scissors will do the job if you can’t find curved ones.

Pick The Right Moment

Timing matters in dog grooming. Don’t attempt to trim your golden retriever’s paws when it’s full of energy and wants to play.

Instead, wait until your dog is calm and relaxed but not sleepy because grooming may irritate a dog trying to sleep.

The best time to groom a dog is after a walk or after a meal. Let your dog calm down for a few minutes after coming home from the walk.

Wash your dog’s paws before trimming them to remove stubborn dirt and detangle hair. Don’t trim your golden retriever’s paws when it’s distressed or anxious.

If you recently moved homes, brought a new pet to the house, or had an unpleasant vet visit, wait until your dog’s emotional state gets back to usual.

How To Trim Golden Retriever Paws Step-by-Step

Introduce the grooming tools to your dog before trimming its paws. Show the clippers and scissors to your golden and let it sniff them. Ensure that your dog is comfortable around the tools and doesn’t show any signs of anxiety.

Comb your dog’s paws, getting rid of any tangles and knots. Don’t pull on stubborn knots but use oil to detangle them. If you notice persistent mats that you can’t get rid of, opt for a professional dog groomer’s help.

Don’t ever attempt to remove mats from your dog’s paws yourself because you may accidentally cut your furry friend. And if you hurt your dog during grooming, it may draw negative associations with the process.

Assuming your dog’s paws are combed and neat, take clippers with blade 10 in one hand and your dog’s foot in the other. Turn on the clippers and move them slowly to your dog’s paw, monitoring its reaction.

If your dog sits still and doesn’t make sudden movements, you can start trimming the fur between the toes and paw pads. Trim the hair between your dog’s toe pads with scoping movements.

When no long fur is left between your dog’s paw pads, move on to the foot’s front. Start from the bottom of the foot, right above the claws. Trim the paw round, leaving about a quarter to half-inch of fur.

Move the scissors right to left and vice versa, not up and down. Don’t trim the fur too short to avoid cutting your dog’s skin. Next, shorten the hair on your dog’s paw top, leaving it slightly longer than at the front.

Now, take your dog’s paw into your hand again and comb it to get any remaining long hair between its toes out. Cut the remaining long hair with scissors.

Make a final check and trim any remaining hair on the front and top of the foot. After you’re done with the feet, you may shave the bottom of your dog’s legs with clippers to keep fur off the ground.

Reward Your Dog

Golden retrievers rarely like paw trimming, so you should help your dog create positive associations with the process. Give it a treat after trimming every paw to reward it for patience.

Don’t reward your dog if it doesn’t sit still, whines, or tries to bite you. You want to show your dog that patience is encouraged, but not whining and jittering.

What To Do If a Golden Retriever Resists Paw Trimming

Some dogs genuinely hate grooming, and treats don’t help convince them that grooming is necessary for their own good. If that’s the case with your golden retriever, you may wonder how to groom a dog that won’t let you do it.

If your dog is scared of clippers but not scissors, trim its paws with scissors. It will take more time but won’t make your dog as nervous.

Unfortunately, some dogs are afraid of any grooming tools. Start by getting your dog comfortable with the tools – you may have to spend a few weeks getting your dog accustomed to scissors without actually using them.

First, leave the scissors in easy reach of your dog and let it approach them. Then, move the scissors close to your dog’s paws, but move them away instantly if you notice signs of anxiety.

Take baby steps in getting your dog comfortable with the tools. If your dog shows no progress, you may consult your veterinarian regarding calming medications.

Don’t try to restrain your dog and trim its paws forcefully because it will worsen the situation.

Mistakes To Avoid

Know the things to avoid when trimming a dog’s paws to prevent hurting your furry friend. Don’t trim your dog’s feet if you see stubborn mats or knots because clippers can pluck off chunks of fur, causing severe pain.

Don’t use scissors with overly long blades on the paws. Never trim your golden retriever’s feet when it’s nervous because it can develop severe anxiety towards grooming in general.

Don’t trim your golden retriever’s paws in the winter if you live in an extremely cold climate because your dog may get frostbite. Remember that the primary purpose of fur on a dog’s paws is protection from cold.

Shaving too close to the skin is the most common mistake in golden retriever grooming. You don’t need to shave off all your golden’s fur on the top of the feet and bottom of the legs but only shorten it.

Don’t get too deep between your golden retriever’s toes with the clippers because the blade can cut the gentle skin. Only trim fur that protrudes between the paw pads.

Image credit: Pixabay

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