What dog breeds have black nails?

When it comes to our furry friends, there are many fascinating features that make each breed unique. One such characteristic is the color of their nails. While some dogs have clear or whitish nails, others have black nails. This article will explore why dogs have black nails, delve into breeds known for this feature, and provide some valuable information for pet parents.

Why Do Dogs Have Black Nails?

Unlike cats, who typically have clear or whitish nails, dogs can have a variety of nail colors, including black. The color of a dog’s nails is determined by the level of pigment, or melanin, produced by specialized cells called melanocytes. Dogs with dark fur and skin tend to have black nails, as the level of pigment in the tissue is roughly the same.

Additionally, genetics play a role in nail color. If both parents of a puppy have black nails, it is likely that the offspring will also have black nails. However, some dogs may have a mix of black and white nails due to the variation in pigment levels in their hair.

Breeds with Black Nails

Breeds with Black Nails

While the color of a dog’s nails is not solely determined by breed, certain breeds are more likely to have black nails due to their coat color. Let’s explore some of these breeds and their unique characteristics.

Black Labrador Retriever

The Black Labrador Retriever is a popular breed known for its black coat and, consequently, black nails. Originally bred as gun dogs, Labs are intelligent, energetic, and friendly. They make excellent family pets and are especially great with children.

Labradors have short, straight hair that requires minimal grooming, with occasional baths and regular brushing. These dogs have a natural retrieving instinct, so engaging them in games like fetch can help satisfy their need for exercise.


Pugs are small, muscular dogs with a shiny black coat. While some pugs may have fawn fur with a black face and muzzle, the majority have black coats and black nails. These playful and affectionate dogs weigh an average of 14-18 pounds and stand 10-13 inches tall.

Pugs have a smooth, short coat that doesn’t require extensive maintenance. However, they do shed quite a bit, so regular brushing is necessary. Trimming their black nails is also important to ensure their comfort.


Newfoundlands, often referred to as “gentle giants,” are massive dogs known for their affectionate nature. These dogs can weigh between 100 and 150 pounds. They have a thick double coat that requires regular brushing to prevent matting and excessive shedding.

Originally bred as rescue dogs, Newfoundlands love to swim but are not particularly fond of intense physical exercise. They enjoy spending time with their favorite humans and are content to relax and lounge around.


Dobermans are majestic and athletic dogs with a sleek, muscular body. While the breed comes in various colors, solid black Dobermans have black nails. These medium-large dogs weigh an average of 90 pounds and can reach up to 27-28 inches in height.

With their short coat, Dobermans require minimal grooming. However, they are energetic dogs that need plenty of physical exercise. Obedience training is essential to keep their perceived aggressiveness under control, as they are loyal and devoted to their owners.


The Puli is known as the acrobat of the dog world, thanks to its agility and energy. These dogs have a unique coat consisting of thick cords that require professional grooming. Puli dogs come in various colors, but black is a common one, which includes black nails, black pads, and a black nose.

Pulis are medium-sized dogs, reaching up to 16-17 inches at the shoulder. They are perfect companions for hiking or jogging due to their energy and endurance. Pulis have a strong herding instinct and are protective of their family.

Black Russian Terrier

The Black Russian Terrier (BRT) is a magnificent large breed, typically tipping the scales between 110 and 130 pounds. With a sleek black coat and distinctive black nails, these characteristics are inherited from their impressive lineage, which includes breeds such as the Great Dane, Saint Bernard, and Rottweiler. The BRT’s luxurious double coat consists of a soft undercoat complemented by a coarse, slightly waved outer coat. Maintaining their nails can be crucial for their well-being, and you may find yourself exploring options such as a sedated nail trim cost to ensure the process is as comfortable as possible for your beloved Black Russian Terrier.

While BRTs don’t shed much, their fur requires weekly brushing to prevent matting. These dogs thrive when given a job or provided with plenty of exercise. Lack of exercise can lead to hyperactivity and destructive behavior.



Rottweilers are well-known for their loyalty and protective nature. They have a short, coarse black and tan coat, and their nails should be trimmed regularly. Rottweilers require weekly brushing to keep their coat healthy and minimize shedding.

Training and socialization are crucial for Rottweilers, as they are large dogs that can make excellent bodyguards. With proper care and early training, Rottweilers can be playful and affectionate companions.


Dachshunds, also known as “wiener dogs,” have a distinctive elongated body and short legs. They come in various colors, including black and tan, and may have black nails. The breed has both smooth and wired coat varieties, with the latter requiring additional grooming.

Dachshunds are popular pets due to their adorable appearance and friendly disposition. However, they can be stubborn at times and have a strong hunting instinct, which may result in some digging in the garden.


Chihuahuas are small dogs with a black and tan coat, including black nails. These miniature dogs typically weigh between 4-6 pounds and stand 6-10 inches tall. Despite their small size, Chihuahuas are energetic and alert, making them excellent watchdogs.

Chihuahuas can have smooth or long hair, both of which are relatively easy to care for. These dogs love to play and require regular exercise. However, they are delicate and should be handled with care, especially around small children.


Why does my dog have a black nail?

The black color in a dog’s nail is typically due to the presence of a pigment called melanin. This pigment is found in the cells of the nail bed and is responsible for the nail’s coloration. 

What color should dog nails be?

Dog nails should ideally be clear or a pale color, allowing pet owners to easily see the quick, a sensitive blood vessel within the nail. 

Do dogs nails turn black with age?

Yes, in many cases, a dog’s nails can turn black with age. As dogs grow older, their nails may darken due to a natural process that involves the accumulation of pigments in the nail tissue. 


The color of a dog’s nails is determined by its coat color and genetics. Many breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers, Pugs, Newfoundlands, Dobermans, Pulis, Black Russian Terriers, Rottweilers, Dachshunds, and Chihuahuas, are known to have black nails. Understanding the characteristics of these breeds can help pet parents better care for their furry companions.

Remember, regular grooming and nail trimming are essential for keeping your dog comfortable and healthy. If you notice any changes in your dog’s nail color or suspect a health issue, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian. By understanding and embracing the unique traits of different breeds, you can provide the best care for your beloved canine companion.

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